As an industry still in its infancy, web design still has an air of lawlessness about it. There’s no regulation to speak of, and still no recognised accreditation systems worth talking about. So with this in mind when I recently corresponded with a lady who was interested in an internship with us, I couldn’t help but feel very sorry for her plight. It’s unusual to regard someone who is on an educational path as someone to be pitied and normally it’s certainly a good thing for most areas of study, but when it comes to the area of web design it’s not something one should be shouting from the rooftops. To explain why, I’m reminded of the scene early on from the movie ‘Point Break’ when Keanu Reeves is cut down to size by his superior..
“Ben Harp: You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing. If you knew that you knew nothing, then that would be something, but you don’t. You’re a real blue flame special, aren’t you, son? Young, dumb and full of cum, I know..”
To put it simply, many will leave these courses thinking they’ve attained a solid grounding in web design, possibly knowing they have more work to do sure, but at least knowing they have some sort of useful knowledge acquired. But in my opinion, to spend your valuable time and hard earned cash on learning the WRONG information is going to send you further back down the path from whence you came.
A quick look at what most of these courses offer quickly puts paid to the idea that anyone who rolls out of one of these courses is going to be fit for work on even the most garish geocities travesty. Adherence to table based layouts abound. Dreamweaver still pushed to students like crack to kids in a playground ( for the record I actually use Dreamweaver myself, but nobody has any business going near it until they know HTML and CSS sideways and backwards ). Flash somehow still being considered relevant three years after HTML5 set the standard for website animation. Not to mention a plethora of other ridiculous teachings and standards being ‘taught’ to the aspiring web designers of Ireland under the guise of web design education.
Well people have to start somewhere don’t they?? Well yes they do. And to be fair, there isn’t ever going to be a course created that will enable its participants upon completion to walk into a highly paid design job in a complete with a wide screen iMac. But this mis-education will only serve to delay that day even further, not bring it closer. If you’re walking down a path in the pitch dark not quite knowing where you’re going it can’t be considered progress.
So my message to any aspiring designers out, don’t be fooled, just don’t. These ‘courses’ will only serve to waste your time and lighten your wallet. Lynda.com has all you need, and for those who know where to look, all their stuff is freely available in the murkier corners of the interweb for free.
If you insist on doing a course, then you could do worse than the course ran at the Mad Art studios in Dublin (http://www.madartstudio.com/index.php/learn-effective-webdesign/ ). I’ve not completed the course myself nor know anyone who has, however from reading the course blurb and flicking through the design section on boards.ie (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=23 ) it appears that the course is a relatively solid introduction to web design. Again, it’s not going to get you any further than the basics, but it would appear to be a great place to start. Still, in my opinion one need look no further than Lynda for the basics ( the holy trinity of Photoshop, HTML and CSS to get you started ), then start to build up your design and UX capabilities by looking to what the best designers out there are doing ( www.creattica.com is a great place to start ) then start to build up your portfolio. Best of luck!