Today concluded our week with Karen Moyer and typographic hierarchy. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but we will have a new instructor who will explore a different aspect of design each week. Next week has to do with 3D objects, I believe.

After class we were treated to lunch with Dan Boyarski, head of the School of Design. During this lunch, while Dan was chatting with others, one of my peers asked me about my thoughts on taking a web design class to learn to build web sites. She wasn’t sure if she needed to learn HTML or what. And I started telling her about my distrust of web design courses, for these reasons:

  • Web design (and by design I also mean development) moves very quickly, so instructors need to be actively engaged in web design, which I don’t think is the case.
  • If you can be assured of finding information about anything on the web, you will undoubtedly find tutorials, articles, and examples about web design, so you don’t need a course.
  • Most non-University web design workshops (Event Apart and the like excluded) are business driven and more concerned about getting your dollars than what you take away.

But before I completely dissuaded her from taking a web design course, I turned to Dan and asked him what the courses were like at CMU. What he said encouraged me. And I appreciated that he seemed to agree that designers need to understand the code behind the design, even if they don’t do the coding itself.

Then Dan asked me how I would teach a web design course. I said I would take a holistic approach that started with a focus on the strategy and goals of a site along with an understanding of the audience, and show how that drives everything else: information architecture, design, technology.

Only later did I think about how I could have given an answer that was completely focused on markup and standards, leaving the sum of web design for a broader class. Regardless, Dan seemed to like my answer. And it got me thinking that I could very well teach a broader web design class.

I’m not sure if that would be a possibility or if that’s what Dan was fishing for, but I find the idea very appealing. Presented with the opportunity, I would accept.