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MA Web Design & Content Planning

Our philosophy

Postgraduate study is a major undertaking and a big investment of time and money — so please satisfy yourself that this is the right programme for you. Most web courses come either from graphic design or from computer programming, and a few are business-related. Our aim is to balance these considerations so that graduates understand what goes to make a good website. On graduation, you will have gained a broad understanding of the web industry generally, and a deep understanding of front-end design and development in particular.

Website Architecture

Our approach to web design is more correctly called ‘website architecture’. We define website architecture as ‘the art and science of creating good websites’. This requires:

The Latin words and translations in square brackets are from the oldest surviving European work on design theory: Vitruvius Pollio’s Ten books on architecture. Vitruvius deals with buildings but also with towns, harbours, clocks and other facilities. As a relatively new branch of design, it is right that web design should aspire to the Vitruvian principles. They were known to generations of designers as ‘Commodity, Firmness and Delight’.

Websites should also contribute to ‘the business side of the art’ because websites invariably have a business objective. Designers must also be aware of their cultural context because although there are many general design principles, some are culturally specific.

pedagogical model
A conceptual model of our pedagogy with some topics located for reference.

The overall aim is professional quality. We learn from other design approaches, from design analogies and from design theories. Websites on this programme and designed, built and assessed on the basis of Commodity, Firmness, Delight, Business and Cultural Context.

Informed by industry

It’s all very well having a well-defined pedagogy and a solid theory and approach to web design but ultimately, we are educating students who are moving towards a career in web design. To that end, much of the content we teach is shaped by contemporary industry practice and emerging ideas. In order to do this, we listen to what web design professionals are telling us, we invite our graduates back to tell us how things work in the ‘real world’ because many of our students are now working for top agencies at the cutting edge.

Talk Web Design 2014 Speakers     Back row from left: Kaelig Deloumeau-Prigent (the Guardian), Pui Ling-Lau (Reading Room), Laura Kalbag (freelance) and Ben Foxall (White October).      Front row from left: Peter Gasston (Rehab Studio), Adam Onishi (Architect), Nicklas de León Persson (Rumble Labs) and the Clearleft 2013 interns.
Talk Web Design 2014 Speakers
From left: Rob Hawkes (Mozilla), Andy Budd and Richard Rutter (Clearleft), Andy Hume (the Guardian), Chris Mills (Opera), Paul Lloyd and Jeremy Keith (Clearleft).

Guest speakers

Over the years we have hosted many industry speakers and have organised events such as Talk Web Design, a day of talks from leading industry experts. We have good contacts with many of the leading lights in the web design industry and our students get to hear the very latest ideas from those who propose them.

And of course we have our own conference website.

Talk Web Design 2012 Speakers     Back row from left: Kaelig Deloumeau-Prigent (the Guardian), Pui Ling-Lau (Reading Room), Laura Kalbag (freelance) and Ben Foxall (White October).      Front row from left: Peter Gasston (Rehab Studio), Adam Onishi (Architect), Nicklas de León Persson (Rumble Labs) and the Clearleft 2013 interns.
Talk Web Design 2012 Speakers
Back row from left: Kaelig Deloumeau-Prigent (the Guardian), Pui Ling-Lau (Reading Room), Laura Kalbag (freelance) and Ben Foxall (White October).
Front row from left: Peter Gasston (Rehab Studio), Adam Onishi (Architect), Nicklas de León Persson (Rumble Labs) and the Clearleft 2013 interns.

Full details of all our Talk Web Design speakers can be found on the speaker profile page.