Teaching development through design
Over the past few months, my colleagues Chris Courtney of The Chicago Tribune and Yuri Victor of The Washington Post have traveled around the U.S. and Canada teaching designers to code.
It’s been a whirlwind tour and we’re only halfway there.
The SND Tablet Quick Courses have yielded fantastic turn outs with designers who are eager to extend their skills into the digital frontier and beyond. The task each class was given was simple. Build a responsive portfolio site with a focus on tablet design and touch. Well, maybe not that simple. But everyone completed the task.
The next two Quick Courses will take place in San Francisco (Sept. 14-15) and Chicago (Oct. 18-19). Get more information and register here.
SND.org editor Katie Myrick caught up with us to see how the project was going.
Going into this project, what were you hoping to achieve? In the end, what are you hoping people will walk away with?
I hope people will walk away with a feeling of excitement and accomplishment. We wanted everyone to have a functioning portfolio site when they were done. I think we’ve accomplished that with every class. But mainly I hope we’ve sparked people’s curiosity and they will want to keep learning about tablet design and how to build for all platforms.
How did you choose which skills to focus on? And how did you figure out how to boil those skills into two days?
It’s really tough to get to everything in two days so we definitely had to make some cuts along the way. I think each class got the core of what we were trying to teach, though. We wanted to break down the barrier to learning front end development, give people confidence and give people tools. All while learning the key elements of tablet design. Design is ultimately about functionality so we wanted people to see that the whole time.
What sort of students have you seen at these sessions?
It’s been quite a mix. We’ve had a few really experienced developers but mainly print designers and journalism students. About a third of each class at least had some introduction to HTML or CSS even if that meant just seeing it and knowing what it does. Age range has been all over the place, which is awesome as well.
The prospect of coding can be a very intimidating thought to some, especially for those who don’t have much digital experience. Have you found these courses to be a good outlet for designers, regardless of their skill level?
Absolutely. It’s amazing how we’ve seen people’s confidence grow throughout the class. We’ve had a lot of people simply say they are pumped to get back to work so they can talk to developers and build something cool. That alone is a win because even if they don’t program it they know how it should work. Knowing what interactions are possible and what interactions are expected is at the center of tablet and really all design. Building helps teach that more than just showing examples with a bunch of bullet points and best practices.
You still have a few courses to go. What would you say to someone who is on the fence about attending?
Knock that fence down and get awesome. We’ll be announcing more dates soon so stay tuned!
Here are a list of resources and links that we talked about and used in each one of the classes:
(Joey Marburger is Director of Digital Products and Design at the Washington Post.)