Interviewee

Gareth Rushgrove

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

So many of the potential skills could be seen as specialist areas, which they are, but the increasing consensus is that generalists are more important (and specialists in my opinion come from real world experience anyway). So, I’d have to say:

  • An understanding of the basic principles of the web; universality, HTTP, markup, client/server model, browsers, etc.
  • Key principles of usable browser experiences - lots of HCI and usability stuff basically.
  • User centred design and Information Architecture tools.
  • Reading, writing and research skills.

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

All depends on where you define the divide to be. Their is no consensus on what design and development mean in the context of the web to my knowledge. Their are so many different disciplines along the spectrum. I don’t think anyone should be taught how to use particular software products (photoshop, dreamweaver, etc.) and they probably won’t be taught the hardcore end of database design or systems architecture and patterns but everything inbetween might be available as an option.

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?

Too much time is spent teaching tools (html, photoshop) over theory (hypertext, interface design). I’d rather see people taught how to learn, taught the theory and then given help to turn that theory into practical results. Too many causes just teach people how to use specific software programmes or tools which is impossible in the current fast moving climate. I’d also like to see more students taught about good examples of team organisation and process.

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

Time served in a real company building real websites in a team environment. Too many students think only in terms of what they can do - rather than thinking about websites that are build by large teams over a long period of time. I’d also like to see more application design examples rather than just simple information websites.

Also general projects - rather than ‘the accessible one’ and ‘the flash one’. Also anything presented not in the browser will make them look silly.

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

Involve individuals (stress individuals rather than companies) from the local community. This might be guest lectures, trips to medium agencies, open days, reading materials or syllabus review.