Interviewee

Geert Leyseele and Veerle Pieters

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

I think the first thing the student should be taught are the web standards guidelines. They should also learn to validate their pages as most emails we receive from students or others that ask us to check their code for something that doesn’t work are filled with errors. They also should learn that validation isn’t everything as well as the markup still need a real human to make it stick structure wise as well. They should learn about the real value of accessibility and that basic start cost any extra effort when you start out right. The basics about lay-out/grid/whitespace typography/contrast… About technologies: HTML/CSS should be the main focus. I’m not sure about other things like MySQL/PHP, JavaScript…

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

In my mind that should be something you choose for if you want specialize in it. Maybe just the basics but I feel it’s better to teach the HTML/CSS correctly instead of trying to teach them everything. It’s rare that people are good at both.

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?

That’s a hard one because Veerle and I are so long out of the school part and we have no idea what is on offer today. The only thing we know is that are a lot of them are still teaching tables. Web design is also so broad to have everything covered. I think it’s better to have specializations in certain areas like JavaScript/PHP, Ruby…

  • Photoshop/Illustrator
  • Grids and typography
  • CSS/HTML (versions that currently are common)
  • Accessibly - Usability
  • Basics about JavaScript

Like I said I’m not up to date with what is in today’s courses but I bet that Flash is in every design course. I wouldn’t drop Flash because it’s not bad when used right. That should be very clear when you follow Flash classes that it has its purpose on projects that warrant it. I’m not sure but another flaw I believe is trying to teach them too many technologies. I personally do not believe that’s good, it’s better to go very broad on the really important things. The student should have the option to choose what he wants to be really good in. We both personally don’t know anybody that is good in everything.

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

A few example sites that really bring out all the material covered in the classes. Static versions for those who did not opt to be a developer and a site with everything found in today’s community sites for those that opted to walk the developer road. So they get a real world feeling in setting this up. They really should understand how important a quality portfolio really is. It’s amazing with today’s possibilities that there are still students that don’t have one and are amazed it’s hard to find a job.

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

I think by staying on top on what is happening on the Internet. That’s one of the best ways to stay current. The teachers should have the passion that drives us and if they can bring that feeling over to the students it would be an added bonus. I strongly believe that the lack of passion is one of the poisons that ruin today’s web designers. I think there are a lot of people stuck in what they know now and have no interest in updating there skill set if the paycheck is there at the end of the month. The future web designer should be taught passion. Most people are also lazy and don’t use the means that are out there. We see that enough in the daily amount of email. They don’t do research and expect that you solve it.