Interviewee

Khoi Vinh

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

A Web design program, in my view, should be equal parts graphic design education, human-computer interaction, and technical development and programming. These are basically the three major branches of the practice, and how I’ve seen most professional Web design organizations organize themselves. All three are important.

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

As I said above, I absolutely think that students should learn both design and development. One informs the other in this field, and the end product is so much better if a student is fluent in 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?

It would be very much as I described: organized along those three tracks. There would be a strong emphasis on traditional design history and skills like typography and composition. There would be an in-depth education in HCI principles, usability, and testing/validation. And there would be front-end coding like CSS, XHTML, Flash, JavaScript etc. as well as database programming, server maintenance, etc.

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

It’s quite depressing, actually. Usually I see the same sort of projects that have been coming out of analog design programs for decades—corporate identities, brochures, marketing campaigns—executed online. Lots of Flash—too much Flash. Very little interface work.

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

That I’m not sure I know the answer to, as I’ve never taught. I think it would require understanding what makes colleges and universities stagnant in this area, to begin with. But if I had to guess, I would say a programs like this need strong integration with the working world. In fact, an ideal program would partner with a small number of studios to tightly integrate an internship with coursework. I’m not sure exactly how it would be done, but it would be the right general idea, I think.