First, a time change
Despite whatever time is listed in the catalog, we will meet on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. and usually wrap up by 9-10 p.m. Some days I might get here between 5 and 6 p.m. just to get a head start on checking in with everyone.
What is this class all about?
In this class you can choose one of two paths: web coding or web design. Both are important skills in today’s job market and I would recommend that you master both disciplines. However, it’s rare to find someone who can actually do both. I also want it to be clear, in case anyone wants to bail out now, we are not here to make pretty pictures. Don’t get me wrong, aesthetics are very important, but design is a very technical field with a lot of science behind it. And this class will be no different. Even though I’ve taken the coding skills out of the web design path, it will still be very technical.
Web design will focus on transitioning from print design to designing user interfaces and the caveats that come with it. We will talk about responsive design and be working with some new software specifically for developing user interface prototypes. This path requires an individual to have a solid foundation of typography and layout, an understanding of CSS capabilities (but not necessarily the code), the willingness to view your design from a business perspective, and an aptitude with learning new software.
So with this class, you are allowed to take it twice for credit, and that gives you some options. If you know you hate coding and can’t do it, you can take 1-2 semesters of web design. If you feel you are savvy enough for code, then take 1-2 semesters of coding. Or if you want exposure to both disciplines, take a semester of web coding, and a semester of web design. I might be open to flip-flopping in the middle of the semester, so whatever path you choose, don’t feel like it’s a permanent decision. As long as you are learning, I’m happy.
No tests, no quizzes, and tentative deadlines. This is all about practice. Learning how to code and/or design websites is like playing a musical instrument – if you want to get good, you need to practice every chance you get, and take it with you everywhere you go.
You can also expect to do a lot of self teaching in this class because that is the nature of any design field. Especially for those looking to go into design as a career. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions or have a “get it done, on to the next thing attitude,” then you’re in the wrong industry. To succeed, you need to have a strong desire to figure out how things work, high standards for your work, and a willingness to explore, experiment, and research topics on your own. I want everyone to understand that I’m teaching to you to fend for yourselves. Interns and junior designers who are resourceful are more desirable than those who need their hand held. However, on the flip side, being too independent can work against you if you spend hours doing something incorrectly. So my advice is to give yourself a time limit, such as 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, etc. (depending on your schedule). And if you can’t figure out the problem during your time limit, ask for help. Hopefully that will help balance the amount of questions you ask your supervisors or other professors. But always ask and get clarity if something is not clear. Lately, I’ve had too many students not asking for help and they should.
I will lecture at random times depending on the issues that this particular class encounters. Otherwise, every class is a work class and I try to give everyone one-on-one advisement. While offering one-on-one time seems to be very helpful, it does take time to get around to everyone, so please be patient and bring things to work on while you wait for me. Let me know if you need to leave early so I can prioritize.
Projects will be assigned depending on what path you choose and I’d like to see progress every week. Some of my projects may seem vague or open-ended, but this is intentional; it’s easier on me and better practice for you. Clients can be just as vague with their own projects and most of you need practice in asking questions to gain clarity.
How to Handle Your Files
Use Dropbox. Google Drive is a good choice too. I highly recommend that you take advantage of cloud storage. Flash drives will break or get lost. Every semester I have a student lose their work because it was on a flash drive and they didn’t have a backup. Using cloud storage forces you to keep a backup, and their servers are infinitely more secure than your flash drive. You’ve been warned!
I will include good resources on the project pages when applicable. And Smashing Magazine is a always a great resource for both web design and coding.
In my perfect world, classes would simply be pass or fail. I really don’t care what your grade is, and neither will your employer. It’s just a formality of the institution. So we’ll meet on the last day of class to review your work, progress, and to discuss your grade. Grades have become “almighty” and I can’t stand it because students just focus on the grade, or completing a “checklist” to obtain the desired grade. That’s not going to help anyone. For all my classes, just focus on learning and understanding concepts. Walk away with knowledge, not grades.
The important note here is that not showing up to class could result in your financial aid being revoked. Otherwise, the choice is yours. However, if it was me, I would come to every class. I don’t enforce an attendance policy because it feels like kindergarten. Come to class if you want to learn and need feedback. If you have personal issues that prevent you from coming then don’t worry about missing a class, just contact me to work something out.
When the going gets tough …
Feel free to let me know what’s going on in your lives. There is more to life than work and school, so if you need to chat, are about to have a nervous breakdown, or need some sort of grace, just talk to me, and we will figure something out.