Writing and Designing for the Web at Metropolitan State University as Taught by John Simmer 2005-2014
I began teaching Writing and Designing for the Web at Metropolitan State University in the fall of 2005. Since then I’ve been teaching continually through 2014. During that time I’ve had almost complete freedom to create courses that focus on combining current trends in theory and best practices with practical application (creating websites for organizations, businesses, and individuals).
The results include numerous community based service learning projects, portfolio websites, and business websites developed by students. The popularity of these courses has grown substantially to the point where these courses are now degree requirements.
Most students come in with little or no web design experience so it’s impressive to see what they are able to do by the end of a semester.
My teaching curriculum includes Writ 373, Writ 573, and Writ 676 (for graduate students).
Course Objectives (modifications occurred starting in 2013): Writ 573 is a continuation of Writ 373. The focus is threefold. First is developing a sound understanding of web-based communication and how to apply what you learn to any website through effective writing and design. Second is learning how to build your own website from the ground up using best practices. You will also learn how to analyze, critique, and improve any website. The culmination will be service learning projects where students will redevelop existing websites for non-profit organizations in the community. These will serve as real-world portfolio pieces for students and a community service for the respective organizations.
Core Knowledge Areas
- Web Usability: Learn about concepts that allow users to effortlessly utilize key functions, access information, and identify goals for any website
- User Centered Design: Learn how to methodically develop a web presence centered on the user experience.
- Effective Writing for the Web: Learn common approaches for effective written communication in the context of the web
- Aesthetics: How important are aesthetics in terms of design considerations and how does it relate to user centered design
- Internet Fundamentals: Understand internet basics including the relation between servers and individual web browsers (client); how to create a local development environment; how to transfer files to a server (FTP), and when to process functions on the server or in the web browser (client-side)
- HTML CSS Coding: Learn the fundamentals of marking up content (HTML) and style (CSS) using a Web Standards approach
- Image Editing and Creation: Learn how to create new graphics and edit images for use on the web
- Navigation and Web Page Creation: Create web pages in multi-column layouts and navigation systems using Web Standards authoring
- Authoring Tools: Use Dreamweaver to manage websites with templates and Adobe Contribute, plus open source non-Adobe alternatives.
Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to:
- Create Websites using the latest Web Standards authoring techniques.
- Analyze Websites in terms of writing, design, and structure and know what works and what doesn’t work.
- Effectively Communicate the above using language and concepts common to the web professional discourse community.
- Propose Effective Web Solutions for new sites, as well as re-designs and modifications of existing sites.
- Understand and Conduct a Web Usability Test.
- Understand and Create Effective Writing for the Web.
- Either do the work yourself, or understand projects so you can effectively communicate or delegate specifics to other team members.