We’re a couple of academics with a penchant for tweed. We teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Ulster, teaching interactive design at degree level and design theory at masters level.
On our interactive design course, we’ve been actively promoting a web standards–based curriculum for many years now. We’ve worked hard to develop a lecture program for our students that covers all of the fundamentals: a solid grounding in XHTML coupled with a strong grasp of CSS. We strive to ensure that when our students leave our courses they’re doing web design the right way: creating well-designed web sites built using a web standards approach.
In our spare time – when we can find some – we both maintain our own practice as designers, developers and artists.
A Standardista is someone who knows and cares about their markup and who sees the semantic structuring of content and, equally importantly, the separation of content and presentation as an essential part of the design process.
Signing up is simple: If you’d like to brandish your Web Standardistas’ credentials for the world to see you can become a card-carrying, badge-wearing Standardista by putting one of our stylish badges on your site. (Paddy has one in his sidebar)
In addition to the lecture programme we deliver at the University of Ulster we occasionally take our show on the road and teach community groups, retired silversmiths and bicycle repairmen the basics of web design. The feedback we received from these workshops was overwhelmingly positive and we wanted to put the teaching materials we’d created for them to good use, developing this material further.
Our initial plan was to create an online resource, giving the material away for free, but our first draft caught the eye of friends of ED and, as they say, the rest is history.
It would be unethical to comment on current students who are approaching their end of year assessments, however, there are a number of past graduates of both our BSc (Hons) course and MA course that are well worth watching.
Gareth Dickey graduated last year and is now working as a designer for Belfast based web design firm Design by Front. His final year project – The 11th Hour – was an exceptional piece of motion graphics.
David Henderson is another recent graduate and the winner of our 2008 Design Prize (a prize we sponsor every year through Web Standardistas), in no small part due to his excellent final year project The Best of Belfast, coincidentally another accomplished piece of motion graphics.
Lee Munroe and Kyle Boyd, both recent graduate of the MA Multidisciplinary Design we deliver, are also talented designers and developers worth watching. Both are currently developing businesses since graduating: Lookaly and the Disability Heroes respectively.
- Work hard.
- Be a nice person.
It’s all about karma.
It would focus on the fundamentals of design: typography, grid systems, information architecture, user interface design, usability and user experience. It’s important to cover the fundamentals without losing sight of the fact that in this industry a strong technical understanding is equally important.
We don’t believe that there should be a split between the role of designer and front end developer, at least not whilst still in education. A solid understanding of design, coupled with a firm technical ability makes for a more rounded and more employable graduate.
Mike Rundle covers this very well in his essay Designers Who Are Technical: The More You Know, The Better Your Work
It’s a very exciting time with a great deal of activity and a multitude of new talent emerging. Belfast is rapidly establishing itself as an emerging centre of excellence internationally and attracting the attention of respected designers from all over the world.
We’ve worked hard to develop a very successful International Guest Lecture Programme and we’ve been fortunate to have been supported by an all-star cast of designers, speaking at the university. Most recently we welcomed Nicholas Felton to Belfast for an extremely inspiring presentation on his work. We’ve also, amongst others, enjoyed presentations by Nicholas Roope of Poke and Hulger, Andy Stevens of Graphic Thought Facility and design critic Adrian Shaughnessy. All have commented on the growing vibrancy of the web design scene in Belfast.
Similar advice to someone considering doing the Ironman: Are you really, really sure?
Our publisher, Friends of ED have very kindly given us some free copies to be distributed amongst our Twitter followers.
In a shameless drive to boost our numbers, we’ve created a carefully crafted pseudo-random-number-generator-system™, through which we’re selecting three lucky new Twitter followers who will win a free copy of our book.
If you, or anyone you know, would appreciate a daily dose of carefully selected web design inspiration via Twitter, all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to follow @standardistas.
Given last year’s summer was spent writing our book night and day, this summer we plan to retire to our respective dachas in Donegal and Northern Sweden where we’ve lined up a number of personal projects (which may, or may not, involve iPhone development).
Web Standardistas is firmly aimed at beginners, providing a solid understanding of the benefits of a web standards approach. It’s intended as a starting point, providing a solid foundation on which to build. It’s focus was primarily on markup and our next book is intended to focus on design as applied to the web.
To get an idea of the mix of content we have in mind, stop by the Web Standardistas’ web site, where we’re publishing content daily.
Thanks guys! It was great chatting to the guys who represent web standards and tweed simultaneously. If you’re at all interested in web design, web standards, design in general, the Internet or tweed then following @Standardistas is an easy choice to make!
Follow me on Twitter @paddydonnelly to find out first about future interviews and hear the daily ramblings of an Irishman in Belgium.