Practical Advice for Teaching Web Design

Web design is the perfect cross section of art and science, design and coding. Students who gain these skills have promising futures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of web developers and digital designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

However, getting started teaching web design can prove to be quite difficult. For our second annual Adobe Certified Professional Academy, we held a special breakout with Florida educator, Jess Campbell to get advice on how she teaches web design in her classroom.

Look for Professional Development

Technology is constantly changing, and to best serve your students, you need to be at the top of your game. That means you need to set aside time to be able to hone your skills. Jess loves utilizing the Adobe Creative Educators program. During her presentation, she said, “When do we ever get to be creative and do the fun things our students do? I love the Adobe Creative Educators program because it’s great professional development and networking with other teachers.”

Education based professional development is incredibly valuable, as are conferences that allow you to connect with industry. Jess recommends Adobe MAX. “For educators who haven’t worked in industry, it’s invaluable to see what employers are looking for in future hires. I can pass that knowledge directly on to my students and help them land the jobs they want. Plus, I get to hear from creatives in industry and learn more about their creative processes, which helps me refine my approach.”

Shake Up Student Projects

As you settle into your design approach, you can further fine tune your curriculum and assignments. Keeping students engaged in a difficult topic like coding is tough. The best way to keep them motivated is to assign fun and unique projects for the students to create. Jess said, “If your course isn’t project based, your students aren’t going to understand the concepts enough to be able to perform successfully on the certification exam.”

To keep students focused and engaged on creation and learning, Jess breaks down her Dreamweaver course into topics, then introduces the topic with a teacher-led tutorial, where students follow along in class, step-by-step. Students then move on to an independent project covering the same topic. Here are her assignment ideas and corresponding topic areas.

HTML and CSS Basics

When students are just starting out, keep it very simple. Cover your basics. In the first project, cover elements like inserting images, paragraphs, lists, and tables. Add introductory CSS elements so they can customize their basic page. For the independent project in Jess’s course, students love to share their opinions, so she’ll have them create a restaurant or movie review blog. Basic formatting, but content the students can engage with.

Advanced HTML and CSS

Once you’ve established a solid foundation with the basics, it’s important to add elements like positioning, floating, creating columns and grids, alignment, and more advanced CSS elements. To make this lesson engaging, Jess asks students to create an instructables or Wiki “how-to” post with their own photos. Students can give a tutorial on whatever engages them, from how to beat the last level of Zelda, to how to adopt a cat.

Responsive Design

Learning to design for multiple devices is crucial for today’s web designers. Students need to understand media queries, breakpoints, and CSS measurement units. To help solidify this concept, Jess has students create their own restaurant online menu. Students invent their own restaurant, design a logo and menu, and then build a page that can be viewed on mobile and desktop.

Introduction to Bootstrap

Bootstrap can be challenging but is only briefly covered on the Adobe Certified Professional certification exam. For their final project, Jess pushes students to stretch themselves by creating their own business website. They need to come up with a product or service and build a Bootstrap site for their company.

Keep it about the Kids

Jess’s last piece of advice, and of course, the most important. “Keep it about the kids. I care about how many students I helped to find a job. That’s what really matters at the end of the day. It’s not about the grades, it’s about helping students succeed in the real world.”

Looking for more advice from Jess? Check out her full breakout session from our Adobe Certified Professional Academy webinar here.