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Links of Interest

Published by Chris Coyier

Students: Are you going to be employable?

Andy Rutledge's article The Employable Web Designer is about how schools may not be properly preparing students with actually employable web skills:

These students are worried that they’ll emerge from school without marketable skills, unprepared for what agencies and clients will expect or demand of them. Unfortunately, I think most of them are right to be worried.

I think Andy is dead-on with most of this, but perhaps a bit extreme. He puts forth quite a laundry list of things students should be being taught, and specifically excludes specific tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. I agree that training students in the fundamentals is far more important than specific tools, but you need a tool of some kind in order to practice your fundamentals so why not these.

Most design programs are 4 year BA degrees, less if you are just getting a technical degree. Maybe half of that time is taken up by generic requirements. Now you have 2 years left. At least one of those needs to be purely dedicated to artistic fundamentals. Things Andy mentions like drawing skills and artistic fundamentals. Now we have one year left to start honing those real world design skills. By the time you get people up to speed with the tools needed in real world web design, you are getting shoved out the door with a degree.

The point? There just isn't enough time in school to craft a human being into a fully-employable design employee. Your business sense, communication skills, and technological skills are going to come from your own time, and hope that you have the fundamentals solid enough to carry you through. That is sure as heck what happened for me.


Custom MooTool-Tips

David shows us how to make non-boring tooltips.



I did a couple of interviews recently. One on Berriart where I talk mostly about CSS-Tricks. Another on ScrnShots as a "featured user", where I talk a bit about my career generically and how I user ScrnShots.


jQuery Explained (by 12 year old Dmitri Gaskin)

This kid will probably be one of our bosses in like 3 years.


Live Search

Making search more helpful is going to be big on the web in the coming years. Try using the search on, now those are quality results. Another way to make search more useful is by paring down results in real time. Steve Smith is calling it "Quicksilver Style" and he has an example written up using Prototype. [jQuery port]


  1. 4 years isn’t enough?

    Sounds like someone doesn’t know what they are talking about.

  2. the kid has allot of so ah uhm, so um, so.. i got annoyed after 3 min and turned it off.
    the “mootips” can be used by all tool tip scripts as its just some css not special code required for mootools.

    But nice list =D

  3. Hey, congrats on the interviews man, that’s awesome!

  4. how much is college tuition nowadays in the States?

  5. Pab: tuition isn’t set by the government. It depends on the school. You can spend anywhere from $2,000 a year up to $30 or 40,000 a year. What’s it like in Canada?

  6. About the article “The Employable Web Designer”, I think most people must start seeing Design more as art. Painters and the like don’t just go to school, paint there and go home and sit on their asses (okay, I’m overdoing it, but still) but spend hours and hours a week in their free time painting and exploring their boundaries.

    I’m a self taught freelance webdesigner, I’m not saying I’m great, but I’m doing better and better, designing mock company websites and my own iterations of my blog and my company website. Last week I heard that I was hired as a freelance webdesigner at an agency, doing work as it comes. You can teach yourself a lot, don’t depend on your education: they give you good tools to work with, but your artistic expression has to come from you, and honor those skills, work with it.

    Would also like to point to this article, about a guy with similar experience.

  7. Michael

    “Um, so um, and um” – Less then two um minutes after he um started um talking I um closed the um window.

  8. Daniel K

    As an instructor in the a Web Design & Development department what is going to kill people looking for a job is just taking what is taught in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I love my school there is only so much you can teach in a 15 week period. We build as much as we can on what was taught the semester before, we also have a professionals come to the school once a year and advise us on what is becoming needed in the field. Sometimes it takes a year to put into practice though (designing the class, finding a book that’s usable, getting the funds for software/hardware).

    But back to what I wanted to say. Students take what we teach and don’t try to expand. There’s the exceptional ones that go out and read blogs like this or go to alistapart and sit up all night and pick apart websites to see how they work and get outside the book learning. If students want jobs they need to know what’s out there and keep up. Sure you learn PHP/MySQL in the classroom, knowing how to hook it up to Flex, play with images, and know that “something extra” is what gets and keeps you the job.

    Just my 4¢

  9. Seems like design education is no different from any other education really. You won’t be the best unless you do outside reading and practice in your own time.

    Employers need to be more willing to take on newbies and train them up. Every job needs some level of training because each organisation has their own way of doing things. Every employer seems to want someone with experience, but no one is standing up to offer experience to those who need it.

    Yes, the boy had a lot of ‘um’s and ‘so’s, what do you want from a 12 year old giving a talk to adults?! I was impressed (but also tired and didn’t have the patience for all of it).

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