Interviewee

Glenda Sims

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

Web Design Process (using Kelly Goto’s book)

  1. Project Management
  2. Information Architecture
  3. Site Mapping
  4. WireFrames

The Basics Skills

  1. Semantic XHTML
  2. CSS
  3. Web Standards / Validation
  4. Accessibility
  5. Usability & Designing for Personas
  6. Quality Assurance Testing

Graphics/Visual Design

  1. Visual Design Principles (like balance, thythm, proportion, dominence…)
  2. Visual Design Elements (like point, line, shape, color typography…)
  3. Branding
  4. Digital Media Tools (like Photoshop, Flash)

Web Programming (beginner)

  1. Javascript
  2. PHP

Web Programming (selected topics)

  1. Java
  2. Perl
  3. Python
  4. Ruby (on Rails)
  5. etc

While this is a lengthy list, all of these skills are necessary to develop robust solutions for clients. You may not need to know all of the web programming languages, but if you only know one, then that is like having just a hammer and all of your problems look like nails.

For professional web developers, I think the best overall view comes from Kelly Goto book, Web Redesign 2.0. That is the big picture of what it really takes to professionally design a web site.

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

I personally think that design and development predominately use different sides of the brain. Most individuals will excel in one or the other. So, it really is up to the student. If they are strong in both left and right brain processes, then sure, educate them in both. But if an individual is primarily right brained, let them flourish on the design side (and vice versa). Concentrate on the student’s strengths. I do think it is important for everyone to understand the big picture and how their work contributes the big picture. But we don’t all have to learn the nitty gritty details (of, let’s say, Photoshop or Java programming).

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?

My dream curriculum would look like this: why? Because this would teach them to walk, and then to fly and give them a real world experience of working on a deliverable that uses people’s strengths and is based on user focused design.

Start with:

  1. The Basics Skills
  2. Semantic XHTML
  3. CSS
  4. Web Standards / Validation
  5. Accessibility (may be a 3rd specialty of User Focused Design)
  6. Usability & Designing for Personas (may be a 3rd specialty of User Focused Design)
  7. Quality Assurance Testing (may be a 3rd specialty of User Focused Design)

The branch the class based on ability/interest - Design or Development

A) Graphics/Visual Design

  1. Visual Design Principles (like balance, thythm, proportion, dominence…)
  2. Visual Design Elements (like point, line, shape, color typography…)
  3. Branding
  4. Digital Media Tools (like Photoshop, Flash)

B) Web Programming (beginner)

  1. Javascript
  2. PHP

Web Programming (selected topics)

  1. Java
  2. Perl
  3. Python
  4. Ruby (on Rails) etc

Then bring them back together at the end with the whole picture and have them work as a team to produce a capstone project using Kelly Goto’s Web Design Process (using Kelly Goto’s book)

  1. Project Management
  2. Site Structure
  3. Information Architecture
  4. Site Mapping
  5. WireFrames
  6. Visual Design
  7. Site Development
  8. Testing/ Quality Assurance
  9. Launch/Maintenance

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

I love to see real work that involves clients and customers, not just personal work. I'm really happy whenever I see work that has contributed to K12, higher ed or non-profits.

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

Isn’t that a great question. I think this is a huge challenge. I think the faculty need to be involved in the day-to-day real world of the web, and not just stuck in their ivory tower teaching out of 5 year old text books. Perhaps the answer is, to have leaders in the fields of web design and development be guest lecturers, just as we see in major business schools.