What are design students learning about web standards? Part II

This question was raised in a group discussion today by Judi Sohn of Mom at Home Design. She said, “I happened to visit my alma mater’s (a college of art and design) website this morning. They just redesigned the site. The site looks attractive but the code! Standards schmandards. It’s nested table on nested table. I counted 3 table tags before the first line of content.”

“I know there are a lot of good reasons to stick with a table-based layout,” Judi continued, “but if you’re selling a service shouldn’t you
advertise it? Art schools are marketing themselves as the future of professional design, shouldn’t they show that they can do what they should be teaching? Layout aside, the CSS was worse. I took a look and saw things like:
body { background-color: #D5CBC0}
body { }
body { }
body { }
I ran it through the validator and I could have sworn the thing laughed at me.”

Judi’s comments really struck a nerve with me, because I too have felt that we are not necessarily teaching the right things in our colleges.

I think part of the blame is that many of the available text books continue to offer up table-based layouts and font tags as if there were no alternatives. I think part of the blame is that instructors have not learned as much as they need to know about CSS. And, at the school where I teach, I know that standards get overlooked because instruction is concentrated on creating art works in PhotoShop or Fireworks and importing it into Dreamweaver without teaching students to care what the code looks like.

I think we can do both: create attractive site design and use standards. I’d like to hear from teachers who think they have found a way to do both in their curriculum.

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