Because the intriguing multimedia components of websites unquestionably help to capture and maintain the attention of site visitors, some aspiring information technology (IT) professionals believe that a graphic design degree will adequately prepare them for a career in web development. However, the websites that nearly everyone loads on a daily basis represent a sophisticated blend of programming, engineering, art, brand marketing and a little psychology. Most degree programs in graphic design focus on artistic impressions and just do not incorporate into their curricula all of the elements needed for successful web development. For example, academic programs in graphic design teach students to convey a message to their audience visually, but web development degree programs expect students to design communication rich visitor experiences through art, design and technical expertise. Here are some common degree options for future web developers as well as a scenario when a degree in graphic design is appropriate.
Bachelor of Science in IT Specializing in Multimedia and Web Development
A bachelor of science in information technology (IT) with a specialization in multimedia and web development is a comprehensive program that typically includes elements of engineering, software development, business and web design. For example, some common course topics are programming, image editing, business writing, website architecture and page layout. Besides thoroughly covering technical theory in the classroom, instructors also give students advanced opportunities to learn and gain work experience through competitive internships and special projects. Students are encouraged to build portfolios of their work that showcase their knowledge and practical application of both technical programming and multimedia design skills.
Bachelor of Science in Web Information Systems
An undergraduate degree in web information systems offers courses that focus more on the technical aspects of web development but includes optional elective classes to help students sharpen their creative talents. Instructors for this degree program teach students classic programming languages like HTML, .NET and Java as well as ones like CSS, AJAX and PHP that are commonly used on the most popular websites. The developers of the curricula for Web Information Systems degree programs recognize that most web users access sites from mobile devices so they make sure that students know how to create mobile applications and websites that enhance the mobile user experience.
Master of Science in Interactive Design and Media
There is at least one special case where a graphic design degree in appropriate for an aspiring web developer. An IT professional who already possesses the technical knowledge needed to develop websites may want to focus on honing their creative abilities with a degree in graphic design. These people usually have an undergraduate degree in computer science or web information systems when they decide to enroll in a two year advanced degree program in multimedia, graphic design or interactive design. This type of graphic design program falls under the sciences instead of the usual fine arts category because it leads students to specifically focus on identifying and effectively using a rich mix of digital tools to enhance online communication.
Although degrees in graphic design are becoming more sophisticated, most still do not offer students the comprehensive instruction on the fundamentals of web development required to hit the ground running in a technically demanding, entry level web development position. Conducting thorough planning and research of IT degree programs including graphic design degree options is one of the keys to successfully launching a career in web development.