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 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 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.