Earth to Creatives: Where are Your Websites?

Web education for students isn't happening.

Student website are missing in action.

This  became painfully apparent over the past month as reviewed more than a dozen portfolios from senior art directors and entry-level. The process was exhilarating, discouraging and, at times, enraging.

Of the 21 portfolios I reviewed, only one showed any digital work of consequence. And now that person works for us.

Maybe we give the younger people a pass on creating for the web, because they’re the victims of their school’s curriculum. But why? Hasn’t the younger generation grown up with all things web and mobile? Why don’t they have the curiosity to explore digital even if it isn’t in the course description?

Working in a web of denial.

One probable explanation: The old fogies are designing the curriculum, and they themselves have not adapted to the new secret ways of the web. Like many students they’ve convinced themselves that digital design is just an extension of print, and thus not worthy of much attention.

Of course that’s not true. And poor slobs like me will spend countless hours explaining why a web page can’t weigh-in at 20mb, how web visitors scan pages, that our pages foldup responsively for mobile devices, and that meaning and accessibility trumps artifice. Even if they can’t execute the basics, they should understand them.

The old salt art directors are another story. They don’t exactly act like the Internet is a fad, but neither do they embrace it. What I saw their work were hobbyist websites that looked OK, but t wouldn’t pass a basic usability or technical test. Their M.O. is to design a pretty interface and hand it off too a developer to make their mess work.

I can’t understand why any creative person wouldn’t dive into digital, poke around, learn, and bring new ideas to the party. We can’t kid ourselves any longer. Knowing the basics of print design and the joys of type ligatures prepares you better for a job in food service than web design.

Hip teachers and students are already embracing digital. If you’re not seriously into web, mobile, app, games and responsive design, get there. Maybe you’ll get a job at a cool, progressive shop instead of serving happy meals.

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