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Web Design:
A Complete Introduction

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Teaching Notes Overview

We cannot hope to give advice to everyone who might be teaching courses based on Web Design. We know that the book will be used in many countries around the world, and that the educational systems and teaching styles differ greatly, not only in different countries but within a single country. We expect that in some places, instructors will want to be able to follow the book closely, whereas in others, they will make up their own lectures, and just refer students to the book for background reading. Nevertheless, we have thought it worthwhile providing some general guidelines on how the book might be used, in the hope that they may be of some use, especially to people who are just starting out on a teaching career.

For each chapter, we give an indication of which students we expect to have trouble, and indicate where it may be appropriate to omit or simplify some material.

Using the Teaching Materials

For the benefit of instructors who wish to create their own forums, discussion boards or wikis based around the end-of-chapter exercises in the book, we have prepared plain text files for each set of questions in the book, so that the questions can be simply copied and pasted into your own application. The appropriate files (zipped) are available for download on the page providing Teaching Notes for each chapter. If the questions do not appear to display correctly, especially where there is embedded code, make sure that whatever program you use opens them using UTF-8 encoding.

The lecture slides that we have provided are summary in nature. They can provide the backbone of a set of lectures, but will require extra material from the book in order to form a complete course. You will, of course, have your own preferences for delivering your lectures, whether it's PowerPoint, OHP or blackboard and chalk. If you want to add to our lecture notes, you can either use the PowerPoint-compatible versions, and edit the presentation in PowerPoint or Impress, or edit the PDF files, using Acrobat or a utility such as PDFLab. For the chapters with a lot of code, we will shortly provide working copies for you to download. Presenting programs in a lecture is always difficult, and we do not have an ideal way of doing it, so we leave you to make use of the raw code however it suits you. Working examples which can be demonstrated live will also soon be available on this site.

Technical vs Design Courses

Our research indicates that, very broadly speaking, there are three types of courses being given with the title Web Design or Web Development. First, there are the primarily technical courses, often given in Computer Science departments, which tend to concentrate on Web technology and programming. Their students usually have a solid technical background and programming experience, but often know little about graphic design and aesthetics, and tend not to have been trained in visual communication. The courses of the second type, on the contrary, are primarily design courses, aimed at teaching graphic designers how to apply their skills to the Web. These students will have a well-developed visual sense, and should be aware of cultural and aesthetic issues, but may be technically unskilled and are not likely to have much, if any, programming experience. (There are, of course, exceptions in both groups, who do already combine both sets of skills.) The final type of course consists of the emerging inter-disciplinary courses, which combine the technical and design aspects, as we do in our book. These courses will attract students from diverse backgrounds, so instructors can expect that different students within a group may find different parts of the course difficult.

Good Web designers need both technical and visual skills, which is why we think that a single book can cater for all three types of course. However, the different backgrounds and expectations that will be typical of students on the three types of course mean that the book must be used differently. Some chapters that design students will tend to find hard going will appear easy to computing students; these students in turn may have trouble appreciating the concerns of visual design.

Our Approach

A we stated in the book's preface, Web Design is not a collection of hints and tips, nor the presentation of a method to follow step-by-step, nor a tutorial introduction to any Web site creation program. If you just want to teach students how to make a simple site in Dreamweaver, this is not the book you should be using. We intended that by the end of the book students should understand how the Web works, so that they can apply their skill and vision to creating sites, with a full understanding of what they are creating.

The following quote from Steve Jobs also expresses our own understanding of design, which underlies the approach we have taken to Web design in this book. 'Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, "Make it look good!" That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.'

We would be interested to hear from anyone using the book as a course text about their experiences teaching with it.