A guide to studying Web Design & User Experience at university - including what to expect, application tips and future career opportunities. Featuring Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Why consider studying Web Design and User Experience at university?

Web design and user experience is increasingly important as we spend an increasing amount of online. One of the founding principles of the web is content and services we provide digitally should be accessible and usable for everyone.

A Web Design and User Experience course will appeal to people who like to be continually challenged. Web design and user experience professionals need to be able to adapt to constant change: there are always new devices emerging to access the web, and the technologies we use to construct digital products are always improving.
You will need to be curious, interested in new technology and think ‘outside of yourself’, to design websites that not only look good, but also take into account how well they will work for others, including users with technological challenges or disabilities.

You will learn to collaborate with others and work in teams which could include User Experience Researchers, Web Designers, front- and back-end coders, creating apps and websites that meet both business and user’s goals.

What can you expect on a Web Design and User Experience course?

A Web Design and User Experience Course will teach you how to communicate with others – both visually, including learning how to use computer software to create user interfaces, but also how to write effectively and communicate well verbally.

Good communication is vital with the people who will be commissioning websites and people who will be using the websites, to find out what it is they want from the website or app that you will be creating; you will take part in presentations and work with others to develop these skills.

You will also be taught good research skills to understand what your audience is thinking. These will include surveys and interviews to tease out important themes that will help you to design a website or app, and how to interpret web-based analytical data to determine and analyse how people are using – or not using – the services and features you have created for them.

You will also gain an understanding of how digital products are built and the code that makes up the digital product, e.g. HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You won’t necessarily need to become an expert in these technologies, but an understanding of them will help you to know what is possible, and increase your ability to communicate with the builders of the app or website. Not everyone making a website needs to be an expert coder, but everyone needs to be able to communicate with others effectively to ensure the final product works well.

What careers does studying Web Design and User Experience lead to?

Most digital products commence with research and progresses through to design, build, test and launch. Once the product is launched data is collected and feeds back into the research phase and the process starts again; websites and apps are being built and rebuilt continuously.

Within the web design and user experience world, no single person builds a website from start to finish: there are increasingly specific roles involved in the process. The roles include web design – ensuring the site looks good; web development – ensuring it does not break and user experience – ensuring it works well. Examples of jobs that are related to this process are project managers, user experience researchers, user experience designers, web designers, front-end developers, JavaScript developers, back-end coders and testers.

Application tips for Web Design and User Experience courses

The most important aspect to portray in your application for Web Design and User Experience at university is your enthusiasm for the subject area. You should show your curiosity and interest around the web and user experience and design.

It will be beneficial to show ways in which you have started to investigate the subject and reflect on your own experience of apps and websites that you have used, alongside any experience you may have in designing your own sites.

You should discuss how you think about the digital world and the difference it makes, the good things it provides and any not so good aspects. You need to show what you are interested in and discuss what sort of products you would like to create.

Not everyone making a website needs to be an expert coder. Check potential course information carefully: websites and apps use many different coding languages, so make sure the course provides teaching in the technologies and processes that interest you.

Event speaker on the video

Derren Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Web Design and Front End Development at Manchester Metropolitan University

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