Web Design

As the Internet continues to transform most industries, there are few more important and demanded jobs than web designers. Our major is designed to teach students precisely the skills they need to succeed as a web designer or product manager, while also including learnings in user experience, visual design, marketing and programming that apply to a variety of different fields.

Key Academic Contributors

Primary Contributor: Dr. Charles Severance

“Dr. Chuck” is a Clinical Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. He is the former Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and one of the world’s leading online CS educators. 

Additional Contributor: Dr. Colleen Van Lent

Dr. Van Lent is a Lecturer in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. Her honors include being chosen as a National Physical Sciences Consortium Fellow and a NASA Faculty Fellow. She has written three books about web design.

Key Professional Contributors

Mala Chandra

Mala Chandra is a lecturer at the University of Washington, where she has developed courses in social media, gamification, and other subjects. She developed multiple core Java technologies, including J2EE, J2ME and Java Beans. In 2004, she was named one of the 50 most influential women in the development of the internet. She is the Founder & CEO of MyMobiLife, where she advises early-stage startups in technology and marketing. And she was formerly a General Manager at Microsoft.

Ryan Seashore

Ryan is the founder of CodeNow, a nonprofit coding school that teaches programming skills to students from underserved communities. He possesses significant expertise in teaching key programming concepts to students who lack prior knowledge, or a strong basis in Mathematics.

Alexey Malashkevich

Alexey is the former CEO of Agile Code – a software development firm – and has 20 years of experience bringing software products to market, especially cloud-based financial technology systems.

About the Major

Web design has three key components: intent, design, and execution. 

  • Intent refers to the ideas and goals of a particular website – or of a page within a website. What do you want the visitor to do? Why do you want the visitor to do that? 

  • Design is the process of executing on that intent. Design is about more than just aesthetics though – successful design drives visitors towards taking desired action(s), mimizes confusion, remains consistent with the rest of an organization’s visual brand, industry, and goals, and yes, looks aesthetically pleasing.
  • Execution is the process of building a website – understanding how to use HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript, and bringing a website from goals and images to finished product.

We conducted interviews with over 20 Fortune 500 employers, numerous technology professionals, and several academics to identify key problems in Web Design Education. Those problems can be summarized by one central idea: Traditional Web Design majors often overlook the fact that this is a synthetic discipline, combining elements of programming, graphic design, and marketing. These programs often produce graduates with skills that are either half-baked, or overly narrow. The Rize Web Design major was built to produce graduates who have all of the skills necessary to be effective Web Designers, and have demonstrated that skill through a heavy emphasis on project-based learning. Specifically, this offering seeks to produce students with the following skills and knowledge:

  • An understanding of key marketing concepts, and the importance of intent in web design
  • Programming skills necessary to build robust, database-backed websites
  • Robust skills in visual design and aesthetics
  • A comprehensive background in User Experience design, and a working understanding of how the best websites drive visitors to take desired actions
  • Strong project management skills
  • An understanding of the product development cycle

These skills were defined as vital to either the process of web design itself or to working in technology in general by our committee of advisors, as well as the Rize curriculum development team. 

In addition, the Rize Web Design major uses the Rize CS Core to provide students with a firm grounding in the technical skills they need to be successful in web design. The Rize CS Core is designed by Dr. Charles Severance of the University of Michigan and is based on his “Python for Everyone” online courses, which have been taken by over one million students. Dr. Severance has partnered with Rize to fulfill his dream of “Computer Science for Liberal Arts Students.” 

This curriculum core provides students with the Computer Science knowledge they need to build robust websites without becoming exclusionary to students whose strengths tend to be more non-technical, and thus allows a greater variety of students to successfully matriculate and go on to successful careers in technology.

Why It MattersMajor

700,000 open jobs

There are 700k open jobs in tech, most of which require a technical skillset

Whether you want to become a software developer, product manager, or just gain a basic fluency for an increasingly technological world, these courses form a foundation for immediate entry into major employers desperate for web design talent

But colleges are failing

Computer Science programs have the highest rate of attrition among all undergraduate programs

Our major fixes that: with an incredibly gradual on-ramp, it is designed to take any student, regardless of their previous experience, and prepare them for the modern workplace

High-quality, low-cost major

Many colleges across the country do not even teach web design, let alone offer an increasingly essential major

All colleges can now provide an effective, low-cost web design major, minor, or specific class through the LCMC and rest assured their students will have a marked advantage in the job market upon graduation

5 Courses. 15 credit hours.

In combination with our Computer Science core requirements, or a college’s own CS degree, these classes are enough for any college to start a full-fledged web design major.

Product Development I

Product and Project Management

User Experience I

Understanding User Experience

Capstone Project

Goal-Oriented Web Design

Product Development II

Advanced Project Management

User Experience II

Building Compelling User Experiences

Build a Portfolio

Every student graduating from this curriculum will have a robust portfolio to show to employers in order to land their first job