Most design schools still don’t get it!

We are in the second decade of the interactive design revolution and all the truly effective, motivated and relevant professionals are still basically self-taught. The multimedia programs at those expensive design schools don’t seem to be at the forefront of innovation or quality enhancement.

When I ask a recently graduated Interactive designer about his/her web design curriculum, I always get the same response. They’ve taken a course in HTML and one in FLASH where they built a “project” and designed a “website”. Try and ask them about their thought-process on information architecture or usability or a simple question like as “How did you come up with the navigation?” It often leaves them fumbling for some sort of response.

Don’t get me wrong. These students are usually very talented. I would just stay away from evaluating their potential based on this school project.

At these schools, besides HTML and Flash course, the rest of their time is usually spent on making a spinning 3D robot because that’s one of the media in “multimedia.”

To any design school instructors or administrators reading this: please realize that an Interactive design program should be similar to an Architecture program where the guiding principle is “form follows function.”

Students need to spend their time learning about information design, usability, visualization, iterative design, prototyping, wireframing, behavioral profiling, heuristics, ergonomics and knowledge management. Good web design is not just about Dreamweaver and FLASH skills.

Also, enough with the “multimedia”. The industry doesn’t need a 3D game developer, video editor and web designer packaged into one career. That time is gone. Give us analytical, creative thinkers who know the real meaning of user-centered design.

We need fresh talent that’s savvier than today’s school kids. This is the one area that I don’t feel we are ready for the mobile revolution. As if there is no user-centered design, there is no mobile revolution.