Interviewee

Jon Hicks

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

With technologies moving fast, I would be hesitant to prescript learning certain languages (such as Ruby on Rails), but I would definitely start with learning good old semantic HTML. The course would then need to build on that with the presentation and behaviour layers, as well as backend development. Plain HTML should always be the core though - it’s surprising how many designers and developers don’t know how to mark up content.

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

Tough one! I would call for teaching 80% of one, and 20% of the other. For designers I feel it’s essential to have an ‘understanding’ of development (and vice versa), but not for that to be equal weight/a thorough knowledge. It’s essential to have that understanding as it informs decisions in either field.

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?

Apart from the skills mentioned in the answer to #1, I would add in photography, copywriting and illustration if possible. My college courses were on Natural History Illustration, but also covered design, copywriting and photography/video. This gave me a ‘holistic’ understanding of at least the role of those elements, but in some cases (like the design) enough to change career! I think the understanding of these helps enormously when commissioning them and knowing what to ask for.

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

Any project that demonstrates a student’s understanding of typography and spacial awareness. Ideally if this was demonstrated across a range of mediums, such as Posters, Magazines & Websites. This would show an understanding of design beyond simply ‘web’.

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

Talking with the industry, inviting active designers and developers in for discussions and presentations, or by being active members themselves (I know that’s a tall order!).