A journey to the 'right' side.


2012 had me like most print designers feeling the need to up-skill into the world of online and web design. ‘Print is dead’ was and is becoming the mantra of many, but it’s one that I don’t personally believe as I think companies will always need a mixture of design for both worlds. Apart from this I like learning and being flexible in what I know, and the more you know the better able you are to make informed decisions for clients.


My current employer RR Donnelley offered to support me in this and so I did the research and found a course - a Certificate in Web Technologies - that suited my busy schedule which included a full time job, a one year old baby and planning for my wedding. The course didn’t clash with the wedding... it started 2 days afterwards, so I went on honeymoon to the National College of Ireland (NCI), 3 nights a week for 4 hours and every 2nd Saturday for 4 months.


NCI is a well regarded, well established college, and while there are many courses in Dublin on web design and development, they don’t all come with a HETAC recognised qualification and are a 5 minute walk from my apartment!


I wanted to learn how to design and build the front end of websites from scratch, be able to understand the technical terminology, and have the knowledge to be able to give informed advice on the best way to go with an online project. I also wanted to be able to go into someone else’s code and have some level of understanding of how it was working and to make amends if needed.


The course covered three key areas: Client Side Technologies (HTML, CSS and Javascript), Server Side Technologies (Ruby on Rails and software engineering), and Introduction to Computing and Web Technologies (Web 2.0 technologies, MySQL and concepts of computing). I went in as a complete beginner to these subjects apart from basic knowledge of HTML.


As well as class time we had 2 website projects to complete in our own time. One was to be an e-commerce website and had to be built in Ruby on Rails and the other was a website of our choosing and had to be built in HTML and CSS. There were also 4 written exams at the end of the course in January 2013.


It was a real struggle, a huge learning curve and for someone who works mainly with the left side of her brain (Creativity & Arts)and lets the right side sleep (Maths & Science) it was never going to be easy. The level of class time and contact hours were both a help and a hindrance, with major project work to be done in your own time it was hard to find any time to catch up on what you did during a class.


I would say I learnt most about Client Side Technologies. This is probably because it was what I had most interest in and what I found the easiest to grasp. The website I built for Client Side Technologies (www.dolcettones.com) was also close to my heart as it was for my sister’s band. I enjoyed the learning challenge of the design and the build and seeing it come together slowly. I can now build websites in HTML and CSS comfortably and have a good understanding of how it works. I also feel better able to confidently discuss online projects and understand the most efficient way to make them work.


I graduated with honours in November 2013 so I suppose I must have kick-started that right side of the brain .... for a few months anyway.