Most students who undertake the MA Web Design & Content Planning programme do so either because they have been working in web design (often self-taught) and feel they need some formal qualification or have never been involved with web design and see it as a career-change opportunity. If you fall into either of these categories, you'll be in good company. Set out below are brief profiles (in their own words) of just a few of our students.
Graduated October 2013
Before the MA I was working as a project manager for an arts education charity. As is often the case in small organisations everything had to be done with the resources available. Despite my lack of knowledge and experience I was put in charge of running the website. At first I had no idea what I was doing but really enjoyed doing it. The rest of job became monotonous, it was the website work that I looked forward to; there was always something new and inspiring to do. I wanted to find a way to make this my full-time job.
The course at Greenwich University sounded too good to be true. It covered all the key areas and I didn't have to have any previous knowledge—perfect. I found the first term in particular very demanding but also incredibly rewarding. Suddenly I could make a website. Granted a fairly basic one, but I'd created something—from scratch—that worked! The teaching was first class; industry professionals with a huge passion for the web, it's possibilities and it's rules. Their enthusiasm was completely infectious and we all graduated as evangelists of web standards and best practice, as well as being full of creative ideas.
My thesis project was Message Map. A website for small campaign groups to share ideas, organise and promote themselves. The aim was to help community groups fight for what was important to them locally by linking up with similar groups in other parts of the country. I found the process of researching, creating and building the website incredibly challenging. It was a steep but very satisfying learning curve. My hope is that my thesis was just the first iteration in a project that I will be working on for many years to come.
Once I'd had a few months to recover from completing the masters I built my portfolio site and applied to a web design agency to be a project manager. At time of writing I've been there six months and I'm really enjoying it. I'm getting to work on a wide range of interesting projects. Covering history, psychoanalysis and education. I get to be creative everyday; and thanks to the skills, knowledge and confidence the course gave me, I'm good at it. I meet up every fortnight with three other women from the course and we work on side projects together. The plan is to eventually start our own agency. Who knows if we'll actually manage it but at the moment it feels like a whole world of possibilities have been opened up to us.
Graduated October 2013
Before I applied for the MA I was working as a Technical Draughtsman for a fencing company. I had dabbled with the web during my time there and looked at several different short courses for web design but none really appealed to me. Also, none of the short courses offered any real qualification or recognition for attending. Then I found the MA programme at the University of Greenwich and it jumped out at me immediately, I had found a real opportunity to enter the web design field and achieve an official qualification.
The next day I handed in my notice at the fencing company and enrolled to study for the MA full-time. I managed to secure another job as Creative Manager for a company selling products in the UK architectural marketplace. This enabled me to work and learn at the same time which I would highly recommend as it helps give you an insight into a career whilst learning new ways in which you can assist that company.
The MA helps you get geared up towards working as a freelance designer, within a web design team or working for an agency. I would have to say that the course is very hard work, but then it is so rewarding you just forget the work you’re putting in. There were definitely a lot of late nights, but if you do the work and get to grips with the general principles then you will be fine. Another excellent point about the course is the links it has to the web industry; the lecturers have extremely good professional and personal links with a lot of the well-respected professionals within the industry. The course also holds the yearly Talk Web Design conference where professionals from the web industry come in and talk about their work. This is completely free if you are studying on the course and is another bonus of the MA.
My thesis project, Student Bridge is geared around giving impartial careers advice to new students looking to enter a career and professionals already in their careers. Having conducted a huge amount of research, a lot of the careers advice websites where either partial to certain careers or had extremely poor web design and user experience. So I aimed to improve on both those aspects. The website is now live and attracts around 500 users per month. The aim is to extend the website to include other career sectors in the future.
I am now Business Development Manager for a different company selling products in the architectural marketplace worldwide. Having a background in engineering and also marketing, and now web design has really given me a head start in my career. I am able to see solutions to problems a lot quicker and often able to action the solutions myself rather than outsourcing the work.
Graduated October 2012
I studied for the MA part-time and before and during the programme I worked for an academic publishing company. Part of my job was building HTML landing pages for marketing campaigns and small websites for academic societies and over time, this became a larger part of my job. I enjoyed it, and wanted to become better, so I spent a lot of time teaching myself by reading blogs, trying things out, and working on personal projects in my spare time. Although I did improve, after a while I reached a stage where I felt I'd hit a wall, particularly when it came to graphic design. I applied for Greenwich because I thought I would benefit from being taught, rather than just teaching myself.
What we were taught on the MA, and the way we were taught it, was fantastic. Despite (or because of) the diverse range of talents and experience amongst the staff and students there was never a sense of covering old ground, even though everyone started from the ground up. I really feel that I gained a huge amount from the graphic design aspect of the course. I was always confident that I had it in me to become a decent coder, but I never thought I had it in me to become a good designer; now I consider myself to be a designer first and foremost. I had very high expectations of the MA, but I still got far more out of it than I had expected. This is the first time that I've finished a course of study with the feeling that I've come close to fulfilling my potential.
For my thesis project I came up with the idea of Faculty, an open source content management system for publishing Open Access journals. It was a great project to work on, because as well as the technical challenge of designing a CMS, I was also able to research and write about open source software, the GNU manifesto, and the Open Access and Creative Commons movements. I have a real passion for the ethos and philosophies which drive these communities, and it was incredibly satisfying to explore these issues and write about what they meant to me.
Since graduating I've continued to work at the same company as before but I'm now a web development manager, which means I work on web design full time and manage a small team of designers. I was given this promotion as a direct result of what I learned at Greenwich. I take on freelance projects in my spare time, and although I took a bit of time off to recharge my batteries after writing my dissertation (read: sat around playing video games), I've recently started to make progress with Faculty again. I've also—finally!—designed and built my own website, http://thomasjeatt.com.
Graduated October 2012
I did an undergrad in multimedia at DCU in Ireland. This is where I got my first taste of HTML coding, although I only learned the very basics. After uni I built a few small websites, but then I took a TEFL course, and went travelling and lived for a while in Tokyo teaching english to preschoolers.
When I came back I decided that I really wanted to pursue a career in front end development. After researching a lot of different courses in the UK and Ireland, I thought this MA looked like the best option.
I really enjoyed my time on the course. I thought it was very well rounded, and I came out of it with a lot of knowledge on all the various aspects that go into building a website, from inception to completion, and also for maintaining/growing a successful website once it's live. Although I already had some previous coding experience, I really feel like I learned so much going back to the basics, and learning all about the importance of clean, semantic front-end code.
For my thesis project, I designed and built a website for a small business, Spilled Ink tattoo studio in Dublin. I used Wordpress as a CMS, and although the learning curve was quite steep, and I found it all very challenging, we had great support from the tutors and I was very pleased with the end product.
Although I have taken a role that is purely front end development, the things I learned about UX, graphic design, SEO and content management on this course have been so beneficial in my job. Pursuing a career in tech has been the best decision I've ever made, and this course was an indispensable part of my success.
Graduated October 2012
Prior to the MA I had been working as a self-employed programmer (not web) primarily within the social housing sector. The kind of work I was involved in included software development, maintenance and system admin within a Unix environment. Having done that kind of work for 15 years I was keen to move on to new and more interesting challenges and felt that web design was the way to go. I saw the programme as an opportunity to move into the web design field and provide me with a valuable addition to my CV.
The programme is definitely geared towards the practical; there are some projects with more of an academic bias but it generally gets the balance right with the focus being towards practical projects that provide valuable real life web experience and help to fill out an initial web portfolio. The course is hard work but very rewarding—the figures quoted on the course site suggesting between 25-50 study hours per week are not exaggerations, so be prepared for some late nights; but from a personal perspective the effort is well worth it, and most definitely a case of ‘you get out what you put in’.
My thesis project was geared around developing a website to promote my business; Cybernet Computer Systems—its initial aim was to provide an inexpensive means of advertising my business as well as highlighting the fact that I also did web development work. However, things don't always go as initially planned and what it ended up being was a web portfolio and a means of learning Drupal which is now my (future) career path…
My thesis site was based around the Drupal CMS, and was a fantastic (although hard and often frustrating) introduction to Drupal. Having completed that site, I then undertook several Drupal-related private projects before moving on to work for Axis12, a Drupal web agency (in order to get more exposure to corporate Drupal development). I have recently changed jobs and now work as a Drupal developer for Encore Tickets, a large West End ticketing agent operating multiple Drupal based sites.
Graduated October 2011
Before the MA, I was doing a four year degree in Law and graduated from it with a decent result and a year's worth of work experience under my belt. However, during my final year I came to realise that I was following a path rather than a passion and so I had to re-evaluate my future. I realised that in the moments when I wasn't thinking about law, I was designing websites for friends or designing images on my computer. I realised I wanted to go into web design, but I had no design experience and absolutely no coding experience.
I found the MA by chance and it has been absolutely fantastic. The course assumes no prior knowledge before the start date. It gives you the great opportunity of starting afresh, provided you bring the right enthusiasm and determination! Although it assumes no knowledge from the start, the year is not an easy one and requires a lot of time and dedication. However, it is safe to say that the course is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. In one year, I have gained so much knowledge, an even brighter passion to work in the web industry and a job that I absolutely love.
My journey there involved my thesis project, Chinese Recipes for All. Another of my passions is cooking, and I found that there was a niche for a specialised recipe site primarily dedicated to Chinese food, which targeted a Western audience. I am Chinese and my parents are both chefs, thus Chinese Recipes for All was born. Researching, designing, building and managing my thesis site was a wonderful opportunity to gain skills in every area of “website architecture” (not just designing and coding) and the site has set me up for working in the industry as a proper web professional.
Shortly after the MA, I freelanced very briefly and then found a job as a front-end developer with Treat Digital. My day consists of coding sites after approval of the design stage. I am also involved heavily in the implementation of the CMS too (Expression Engine). To complete the circularity of my journey, many of my company's clients are top law firms. Instead of becoming a lawyer myself I am now building their websites, and that is absolutely fine with me!
Graduated October 2011
I was working in the City in an IT systems support position, which included intranet and web-application support, before I enrolled on the MA. I had wanted to get more grounding in the area of web content planning and publishing, including web design concepts. The MA course ticked all of the boxes for those areas I wanted to build knowledge in for future personal and career advancement.
My first degree was in Publishing from the London College of Communications, and I've an interest in that area, though I'd found myself veering away from that path occasionally career-wise into more technical IT positions. The solid grounding I received in the practical and theoretical aspects of web design and content planning made me realise that this area is far more diverse than one might first imagine, and it was really interesting to cover such a wide-range of topics.
Having had my eyes opened to the world of digital publishing and content planning I am far more appreciative of the vast scope of specialities that fall under the umbrella of web design. Work upon my book review site Spooky Reads as part of the MA's Web Thesis Project underlined the crucial aspects of content creation, planning and adaptation, and the important world of search engine optimisation, social media implementation and fundamentals of site traffic analytics.
Since finishing the MA I've been working freelance — something I've been able to do with much more ease having completed the course — and have recently started looking for a permanent position in the area of web content editing and planning. That's when I am able to pull myself away from my copy of The Art of SEO, however!
Graduated October 2011
Before the MA, I had completed a qualifying degree in Law and was planning on becoming a solicitor. After several months of work experience and a few unhappy weeks at the College of Law, I realised that it was not the career for me. During my undergraduate degree, I spent many hours designing and building basic websites for friends, family and some local businesses. Web design really captured my interest, so I was eager to learn more.
I found the MA online and I have never looked back since. I was so pleased to be studying something I actually enjoyed, and relished the opportunity to develop my skills from the ground up. I found that an enthusiastic and hard working approach was essential in order to keep up with deadlines (and with the rest of the class), but every hour spent researching or wrestling with code was definitely worth it in the end.
My thesis project involved re-designing and developing a site for Volo Sport Horses, a sport horse sales business based in Norway. I found that most sport horse websites were basic and/or outdated and saw an opportunity to create an exciting, modern website that would show off Volo's horses to their full potential. Since the new site's launch, the number of monthly visits has increased by over 600% and Volo have received many promising enquiries about their horses. Researching, designing and hand coding the website from start to finish really gave me an invaluable insight into all the work involved in a web project.
After the MA, I freelanced for a couple of months then found myself a job as a web designer & front-end developer for Capra. My day-to-day work is as varied as it is challenging. I spend my time planning, researching, designing websites and iPhone apps and coding up pre-approved designs. What a joy it is to look forward to work each morning, and all thanks to the MA!
Graduated October 2011
Before starting the MA, I was a part-time freelance web designer working from home and struggling to get paid work. I went to night school to learn CSS and HTML and also did both a Dreamweaver and a Photoshop master-class before deciding to join the MA programme. I have worked in IT most of my life and had a network engineering background. My last role was with Microsoft and I was very much business focussed selling high end consultancy to blue chip clients.
The programme was very intensive and focussed. The best part was getting some structure into my web design process and taking time out to look at the big picture. There is so much change going on in the industry that you need time to read and educate yourself on a daily basis. This is what I learned and it has been very important. The MA programme also allows your work to be critiqued in a positive environment which allows you to see your work from a different perspective and question your approach. You learn more from your mistakes than your successes with this approach. It is a course only for committed individuals because the pace is such if you do not hit deadlines you cannot catch up.
I did an e-learning Web Thesis Project and managed to put ten years worth of classroom-led training into a learning management system to sell online medical terminology training. Talk Medical is a commercial venture now and we will be launching an updated learning environment to our beta testers for final check in the next month or so. The project focussed strongly on SEO at the earliest stages to ensure the target audience could find us and try us. We used freemium principals (free module on YouTube) and a few free courses for practise managers to get interest. We have successfully tapped into a solid customer base to get started selling our courses in bulk in GP Practises.
Right now I am doing web design – currently working on a new web site for a pro photographer. I am designing another site for a managed services company and providing some IT remote support for their business. I am also a SEO consultant and I work with small business owners to improve their online searchability. I earn £30+ an hour. I have not looked back.
Graduated December 2010
Before the MA programme I worked full time as a Personal Assistant for a consultancy firm. I started tinkering around with blogs as a hobby and found myself becoming more and more interested in the workings of the web. I initially looked for classes in various web techniques but found the Master's course and thought it offered an all round programme.
I found the MA very rewarding. To be able to look back on your first piece of work and see how far you've come is a great feeling and you can really appreciate how you make the course your own. The deadlines were fair and demanding and the whole programme is based on learning the foundations of web design, not just sitting in front of the computer learning code.
Because I understood that the thesis project takes months of hard labour and research, I decided the only route it could take was ‘fun’. My idea started as a makeup review website, but the more we discussed the potential of the internet, the more I realised it deserved something unique. Being lucky enough to have very funny and creative friends I turned to them to write stories from our random musings in the pub. From how PAs are actually a superior race who run the universe, to how some people simply cannot get ready for an event in time as they are caught in the scientific phenomenon known as a ‘faff hole’. Those musings are compiled at gettinglippy.co.uk.
Graduated December 2010
Before the MA I was a Senior PR consultant working in the area of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. I'd undertaken a small course in HTML and was interested in progressing further so I decided to do the MA in Web Design at the University of Greenwich.
The MA program was fantastic and teaches even the most green of web designers/coders how to design and develop visually effective, compliant and search engine visible websites. It's also good to see that even on the other side of the world (in Australia where I now live) this qualification is highly regarded by employers and I've had some great feedback about the quality and accuracy of my work.
My thesis project was an online/offline professional networking club called Martini-meets - www.martini-meets.co.uk. The club was aimed at marketing, PR and media professionals who were looking to broaden their professional networks and meet like-minded people. Events were held at London cocktail clubs and were a massive success.
Unfortunately, Martini-meets hasn't continued since I left the UK but it was such an amazing experience creating such a popular professional network.
Until recently, I was working as a freelance web designer here in Australia but have now taken up a position as a Front End Web Developer with a well-known global advertising and digital agency in Sydney. It's great fun and amazing experience.
Graduated December 2009
I had been working as a self taught web designer/manager for several years and felt that I needed to both solidify my knowledge and underpin it with some academic foundation. I also wanted to build my thesis project site and knew that this would be the ideal support framework within which to do it.
The teaching is very well executed and covers a wide breadth of subject matter. Now that I am in my final phase I am really able to appreciate how well structured the course is to provide me not only with general learning but also with the skills I need during this thesis project.
My project, urbanfoodie.net, a London foodie hub, had been in my mind for a while. I am a passionate foodie who believes in real food - even when you live a busy London life. The website, which has recipes (including a baby food section), a small producer shop, a foodie social network and more, is one that I felt a great deal of passion for - I wanted to build it as much for myself to use as anyone else.
I am continuing to work as Web and Design Manager and also working hard on getting Urban Foodie up and running as a profitable web business.
Graduated December 2009
I had been working as a publishing designer for a media company in London since 2003. Before joining the MA Web Design and Content Planning programme I did a course on Magazine and Publishing Design from the London College of Communication, University of Arts. A major part of my design project work was in print media. Alongside printing I was keeping an eye on web design and its evolution. I was designing websites using WYSIWYG editors but was keen to gain more confidence by pursuing a professional education.
The programme was a perfect choice for me in terms of the time I invested and the skills and knowledge I gained in return. I was looking for a web design programme that would be unlike other programmes on offer. Most of the programmes available elsewhere seem to focus on development aspects of the web. As a designer I wanted to learn more about aesthetics, usability and marketing aspects of web sites and a workable understanding about various web-development technologies. The MA Web Design and Content Planning programme is a nice balance of design and development for the web. Class size was small and at times informal and I was lucky to have teachers who are experts in the field too. Whenever I needed any help or advice from the tutors I would always get it almost instantly. They are just an email away!
My web thesis project was dhakatown.net on Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Dhaka is a mega city of 12 million people. I noticed there was no full-fledged website like londontown.net or visitlondon.com in Dhaka. I wanted my thesis project to be on a service that can generate money too. Since its formal launch in October 2009, users are increasing each month. New contents are being added every day. Shortly, I will have an office for the site in Dhaka, and want to employ a few people too.
I am working as a publishing designer for a media company at present. My future plan is to have my own design companies both in the UK and in Bangladesh.
Graduated December 2008
I decided to take the MA because it was something I have been interested in for a very long time, I love all things digital, and the ability to create and develop websites was something I was starting to develop a passion for. At the time I had just completed my BA in Business Management, been travelling to South America, and when I came back I decided it would be best in the long run that I tried to make my working life something I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life - footballer was out of the question, so Web Design was something I was extremely keen to learn.
The programme/teaching was excellent. I didn't know anything about how to design/build websites when I started, and after two years I am working at Bluhalo, a digital agency as one of two HTML/CSS developers with huge responsibility for sites such as Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspurs FC. It's incredible really, because without opting to do an MA at Greenwich University, and without the excellent teaching methods of David & Tom, I wouldn't be able to work where I am now- which I absolutely love. I think the teaching style is great because you are taught the fundamentals and a very clean and organized method of designing, developing and also thinking - which are vital in real life web design.
The idea behind my thesis project was down to my dad owning a small courier company (mckcouriers.com), which didn't have a website and no real online resource. Therefore, an ideal opportunity to help my dad's business enter a new era and complete my thesis with a very real project.
I now work for Bluhalo, digital agency; I've recently finished the new Liverpool FC website which was built from scratch from designers PSDs (Photoshop images) and am close to completing a re-design of an existing Bluhalo site for Tottenham Hotspurs FC. Both sites are due to launch before this seasons Premier League campaign. You can view those sites in the coming weeks and also some other projects I have been involved in post my MA at dysfunctionaldesign.co.uk. Next on the agenda, Bluhalo are re-designing their own website which I will be building towards the end of the year.
Graduated December 2008
I was working in a language school designing marketing materials when I decided I wanted to broaden my design and online marketing knowledge by doing an MA.
I think this course is unique in its approach and has the right balance of design and technical know-how. No previous web design knowledge is required as a good foundation is built in class and the fact that the tutors are very competent and always there to help make this a very enjoyable course.
For my thesis project I decided to do a redesign of my previous company's website (www.mayfairschool.co.uk) as the old site design looked dated and wasn’t very user-friendly which resulted in too many phone queries. Besides I wanted to increase their online revenue as well as their site traffic by adding new and relevant features and therefore make it a useful resource for both new and existing clients.
I have since changed jobs and I'm now working as a Marketing Executive looking after my company's website and their email/online marketing as well as being part of their e-learning strategy team. I have also recently started to do some freelance web design work.
Graduated December 2005
I was managing the intranet for a large insurance company, and wanted to learn more about web design and internet marketing to apply to my job, and also some personal websites.
The MA was a perfect mix of design, content management and internet marketing. The tutors were approachable experts. Importantly, you get out what you put in - study and commitment must continue outside the lecture room to achieve truly great results.
At work I often needed to source good quality images yet did not have any budget. There were internet sites that offered high quality images for a price, or low quality images for free. There was a gap in the market for high quality free images. My theory was that offering such a service would generate high traffic which would bring in decent advertising revenue. My project site, freedigitalphotos.net has become a great success.
The MA meant I now had ‘commercial quality’ web design/marketing skills, and as a direct result I set up my own web development business about a year after graduation. That went well, and I subsequently joined a design agency as Technical Director, in charge of all web projects.