It can seem like design college students today have it made—they’ll graduate with technology skills more experienced designers would kill to have. But one student feels like her cohorts are at a disadvantage because design schools still aren’t teaching enough about design business. Janna Hagan, a web designer from Alberta, Canada, started A Student’s Guide to Web Design to help up-and-coming web designers prepare for a fruitful working life after college.
What was lacking in your education that led you to create A Student’s Guide to Web Design?
As a design student, I was very connected into Twitter and other social media. I began to realize that there was disconnect between what I was learning in the classroom and what was being practiced in the industry. Although college was a great way to gain a solid foundation of fundamental technical skills, the practical and business aspects of design were being forgotten about. I felt like there simply wasn’t enough being provided for me in the form of real-life skills when I graduated.
What do students need to learn about web design that they aren’t getting in school?
Many design students see freelancing right after college as an enticing option. Being a freelancer is very much like running your own business. Many design students are blindsided when they learn they have to also handle all the business responsibilities, while maintaining a solid stream of clients—something that is difficult for students.
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My design education left many holes in this area. For example, we never learned about handling clients, getting your first clients, marketing yourself as a young designer, what it’s like to work at an agency, etc.—skills that are critical to becoming successful as a designer.
Although our website is mainly for web designers, all types of designers can benefit from the information we provide. Our site focuses on the practical aspect of design, rather than technical skills.
What kind of work do you do now? What’s your dream gig?
I am a web designer and developer currently doing freelance. I am also in my final year of college, majoring in marketing. After college, my plans are a little uncertain. I would definitely love to get more agency experience. My dream gig would be working for myself. I love being able to make my own hours and work with clients of my choosing. If I’m able to do that as soon as possible, I’d consider that a great accomplishment.