Serif in Education

Website design as part of the Computing curriculum

Computers have become part of everyday life, and for most of us an essential addition to our home and work balance.  From a simple search online, it is possible to find a whole host of information from websites around the world.

This rise in digital technologies and systems, smart phones and tablets, has led to career choices for students that have evolved over time.  These include subjects such as 3D design, graphic design, computer engineer, software development, and web design.

From September 2014, the emphasis on computing was cemented by the introduction of the new computing curriculum, developed to equip young people with the foundational skills, knowledge and understanding of computing they will need moving forward into the world of work and beyond.

Through the new program of study, children as young as four years old learn how computers and computer systems work, design and build programs, develop their ideas using technology and create a range of content.

A career as a web developer or web designer is varied, however it is often wrongly assumed when referring to website design this means one discipline.  But for those who understand the dynamics of website design, we know that a website designer is quite a broad description of the job role.

Website design and development itself actually encompasses a host of different elements and skills, ranging from web graphic design; interface design; authoring, standardized code and proprietary software; user experience; and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In addition, production and development of a website, and ongoing maintenance of a website, are two very different things. Web designers plan, create and code web pages, using skills to produce websites that fit the customer’s requirements.

As part of the National Curriculum in Computing (Key Stage 2), pupils are required to understand computer networks including the internet; how they can provide multiple services, such as the world wide web; and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration.  They are also tasked with understanding how to use search technologies effectively, appreciating how results are selected and ranked, and be discerning in evaluating digital content.

Students must understand the basics of building a website and consider relevant factors that contribute to its successfulness:

- Suitability: It is important that websites are designed with the intended target audience in mind.  The language used, the feel of the graphics and the use of multimedia should all reflect the needs of the audience.

- Usability: The navigation of websites is paramount to their success.  Visitors need to be able to find what they want quickly and easily without losing their attention. It needs to be clear to users what icons mean (with text tags) as it can frustrate users if they have to go mouse over things for example.

- Readability:  Language or vocabulary, layout, font, background colour can all be contributing factors to how easy a website is to read and see.  It is important that users of the website can see things clearly and comfortably.

- Accessibility:  Websites should be visible to any visitor, whatever their situation.  Things like text size, colour schemes, and navigation by keyboards can make this possible, but there should be an awareness of this factor when designing a website.

In addition, the recent growth in touchscreen phones and tablet devices has dictated a new way of designing websites, and the need to make sites responsive for different types of device a viewer is using. Therefore the need to test websites at different stages of design on a variety of different devices has become an important aspect of the job.

There are various Serif programmes from the Serif Design Suite that are available for students to use when designing and building a website:

- Serif WebPlus for designing the web pages

- Serif DrawPlus for preparing graphics for the website

- Serif PhotoPlus for preparing photographs for the website

To assist students in learning more about websites and design of websites, we have created an educational resource for students which may help with your lesson plans.  This guides them on creating their own website and the considerations they must think about.

See the full document here:

We would love to see the creations your students build – feel free to share them with us on our Twitter page:  @serifeducation.