I took Introduction to Web twice. The first time, I allowed myself to fall behind on the assigned reading, which is where I believe the problems began. I also didn’t ask questions. I was also just plain lost with what I had read. It was such a new way of thinking and it was a bit overwhelming. The second attempt at the class was far better. First off, I religiously stayed on top of the reading. I also read other materials in addition to what had been assigned. I asked questions as soon as I didn’t understand something during a lecture. I took better notes too, which became very helpful on the exercises. I also made a point to study for the exercises so I didn’t waste my time during it looking through my notes unless I absolutely had to. I also cannot deny that hearing everything for a second time was extremely helpful. I’m not sure if it was simply because I was preparing myself better outside of class or if it was because I was having everything explained to me all over again from the very beginning. Either way however, things really clicked the second time. My final grade was four letter grades higher than what I left with the first time.
The Advanced Web class was where I wish I knew some things. In the intro class, we learned all about the technical side of making a website work. So much so in fact that I almost completely disregarded the design aspect. I was focused 95% on the technical, and then I found out that wasn’t the real concern at hand. I should have been primarily focused on the design and a little less on the technical. I should have thought about how the class is called web design. I was told to remember that my goal is to become a designer, not someone in an IT department or something. Had I thought of this my approach for the first project would have been entirely different and I would have gotten more out of it than just responsive web design. After the project was handed in I felt so behind, and I wasn’t seeing a difference between the first and second projects, other than that the second one was bigger. Technically speaking it worked relatively well but in terms of design it lacked so much and failed miserably. Thankfully I had my second project to do better on, which I feel was more successful even though it too had massive room for improvement. I also stayed on top of the reading again, and I did a lot more independent research. The one quiz we had all semester I failed. I realized that at least part of my problem was that I am so reliant on the color-changing mark-up in Dreamweaver. I got to the point of where I didn’t really know everything I should, I just proceeded based on whether the text was the right color or not. So I think in hindsight I may have at some point turned off that setting in Dreamweaver.
For the next group of students coming in to the web classes, I would tell them to be open-minded and to forget any and all preconceived ideas about web design and how the web works. I also recommend doing the reading, and I mean all of it by the due date. Putting it off in the slightest way is a guarantee that you won’t do it at all. The year of web classes is an intense one but it’s very rewarding. I liked learning different techniques that I admired for so long on professional websites out there. I would also tell them to remember that the design and usability is most important. The technical aspect comes faster to some than others, but ultimately it all comes together over time with practice and challenging yourself to try something new. In addition, I am not a very social person, so I don’t usually have any friends in my classes. Looking back through not only the web classes but my time in the program as a whole, I wish I had at least tried to make friends with at least one person. Getting another student’s feedback is priceless really. Not only is it just a good support system but it’s also another way of learning more. Sometimes I don’t realize how much I might know about something until I sit down with someone else and help them with their project. I also find that it’s a great source of inspiration and brain storming. However, in terms of inspiration, I just about always use the magazine Communication Arts.
My boss at my design job gets the subscription and has a library of years worth of these magazines, and gives me full access to all of it. It’s truly never failed me. Otherwise I consider everything as a possible source of inspiration. For the technical side of web design, I frequently bother my co-workers to look at my projects. They literally drop everything to help me. So, I encourage the new web students to get to know each other, work together, and know what works for them and what inspires them. Oh, and do the reading.