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School of Art + Art History

Graphic Design/Design & Visual Communications

Technology Requirements

Updated June 22, 2020. We suggest you return for updates after July 1, 2020. 

We are delighted you are interested in graphic/communication design. Since its inception as a modern/western discipline, graphic design has been a technology-centric field. As such, in order for you to fully participate and meet course and program learning objectives, students taking graphic design courses are required to have appropriate hardware and software for coursework. This is defined below and updated periodically. Our goal is that what we recommend today will carry you through your final year of study.

Whether in remote or face to face courses, hardware and software access during course meeting times and beyond will support your growth and development as designers. 

Financial Aid for Computers

Because computer access is an institutional requirement, computer costs are designated as allowable costs for students who qualify for Financial Aid. Accordingly, Student Financial Affairs has added costs for access to a computer into budgets. For more information, contact your financial adviser in the Office of Student Financial Affairs directly.  

Required Software
In the design courses, we use the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite. You are required to purchase a subscription for use in your design courses. This is discounted through UF ($140)—the normal academic cost is $19.99/month. Stay tuned for links in the coming weeks. 

Required Hardware

Laptop with specifications listed below. Apple products are dominant in the creative industries with about a 75% market share. The graphic design faculty members continue to strongly recommend Apple Macintosh systems. Although the PC and Mac are quite comparable in both software, hardware, and power, our faculty, staff, and fellow students will not be able to easily assist or support you if you work in the PC environment. In this case, UFIT might be your best resource. 

If you are purchasing a new computer, make sure to get education pricing through the UF Bookstore or Apple. Both offer payment plans. One advantage purchasing direct from Apple is their 14 day return policy so you can try without a commitment. You might want to check out options during the Florida Sales tax holiday period which is usually in August. 

When considering a purchase, keep in mind many computers are not easily modified after purchase so you should get the best computer you can afford for your needs. Below is a configuration that will work today. With care, a quality computer will last you through your college years. 

This recommendation will be updated after July 1, 2020.
Sample Laptop Configuration—15 inch Mac book Pro

Apple Higher Education (HED) store and the UF Bookstore offer education pricing. If you are an AIGA member, this organization also offers an Apple Store discount that is sometimes better than the education pricing for individuals. The configuration specified is the minimum configuration. If you choose a PC, please look for its equivalent. 

2.8GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
512GB SSD storage
Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports / US English Keyboard
+ Apple Care
+ USB-C adapter for peripheral devices if needed

If you choose a 13" monitor with these specifications, plan to purchase an external monitor. Not only will you be able to better see what you are designing, but you will also save yourself considerable time and increase the accuracy of your design. 

A Good Idea

External Monitor
We recommend you purchase a monitor. There are many brands to choose from. We are recently considering the BenQ brand, available at B&H Online and other vendors. We recommend at least a 21" but 27" is better. As stated above, this will save you significant time, increase your accuracy, and alleviate stress. 

Access to at least a 12MP Camera for project work and design research. 

Backing up your Data
It is important to back up your work regularly. Plan to back your computer up to an external hard drive and an Online service. You will find many economical options on the Apple website. Many students opt for drives with capacities starting at 1TB.

  • Western Digital makes a 1TB ultra portable external hard drive.
  • Dropbox and iCloud are excellent for cloud storage options.
  • Carbonite and BackBlaze are Online backup systems that will backup your internal hard drive starting at $50/year per computer. This is not a cloud but a backup service. It is useful in case of loss, damage, or theft. 

Collaboration Apps

We also want to share other apps commonly used by designers, including Slack (used in most design courses), Mural, Figma, and Trello. See the sidebar for links. 

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