Interviewee

Cindy Li

What skills and technologies should colleges and universities teach students who want to be web designers and/or developers? Why?

How to code html pages, CSS. To create accessible pages. It is the right thing to do. Unfortunately lawsuits are starting to happen because websites aren’t accessible. Example Target.com got sued because their site wasn’t accessible, even large companies can get into trouble. Another example, Australia’s winter Olympic’s website, a few years ago got into some trouble because their site wasn’t accessible. If designers/developers got their act together in the first place we could save a lot of litigation and just work on evolving the web into something everyone can use.

The difference between print and web. I’ve encountered people who are web designers that don’t know the specs to interact with print files. Just knowing how to change files from 300dpi to 72 dpi isn’t enough. You need to know why we use formats such as eps, tif, jpg or pngs.

Optimizing graphics and the code/technology from websites. One thing that people forget about high speed access is that not everyone has it and if they do they may not be on a device that is pulling in images/code that quickly.

Ethics on the proper usage of images & code. Images belong to the person/company that create them. You should ask permission from the person that owns it for usage, even if it is for educational purposes. (Sidenote: Matt’s in the educational sector and he’s told me about situations where the teachers use the “its for educational purposes” so we don’t have to pay but it has ended up in some promotional capacity and should have been paid.)

You can cite the Virgin Mobile (I think) in Australia example where they took Daniel Morrison’s photo off flickr of Molly Holzschlag, Martin Ringlein, and Alex Giron and created a campaign without permission. It wasn’t the only photo they used for the campaign. I believe it ended up in a lawsuit because the advertisement company used an underage girl’s photo and were suggesting she was doing something inappropriate. There are plenty of low cost options and free stock photos options that there is no excuse for stealing.

A company called Surfshot magazine in San Diego stole Veerle’s blog CSS. One of Veerle’s readers sent this to her, actually many more after the first one came up. It is possible that the company hired/outsourced the design and had no knowledge of it. Veerle sent a few emails and threatened to email the host to take it down. If you were the designer/design firm do you want your reputation to be tarnished by this or are you out to make a quick buck?

Should students be educated in both web design and development or just one? Why?

Yes, so that they can communicate no matter which they decide to concentrate on. Communication for each “side” is invaluable. The person that can speak both design and development will be the one that succeeds because they can translate for the ones that cannot. No one ever says it is a waste to know extra languages. Expanding capabilities and your skills set will also make you more agile in your career.

If you could create your dream curriculum for web design and development, what courses and information would you include? Why? What courses and information now in such programs would you eliminate? Why?

Show on different platforms websites. Show different setups like one for color blind (there is a photoshop action that you can use to mockup what a color blind user would see). My mom is legally blind, she’s got macular degeneration, is near sighted and far sighted. She uses a PC with a setting that magnifies her desktop so she can read websites.

I think especially in the USA we’re so focused on the perfect youth we forget about the people who have disabilities but still want to experience the web.

Create a project that the students had to test it and watch how people used their website. Because what they think is intuitive isn’t necessarily true for people outside of their profile. Take them into a UI study to see the different setups/techonology that companies use to find out if their website is working or not.

Create a project where they have to create a youtube, viddler or some sort of online video so they can learn about video.

Create a podcast to learn what goes into creating one and putting it on itunes. It could be as simple as interviewing 10 people to see what their favorite website today is.

What type of projects do you want to see in a recent graduate’s web design and/or development portfolio?

A portfolio that showcases their personal style for the portfolio website but integrating projects that they did during the course of their degree.

Typography, color palette, speed and usability of the website. I want a short description so I can see what sets them apart from the rest of the world, what makes them special.

How can colleges and universities keep web design and/or development curriculum current and relevant?

Maybe one idea is to recruit business professionals for an advisory panel like they do on corporations.