The Internet has changed the way we buy and sell goods, find directions for stores and businesses, and interact with each other. It's also changed the way we learn, offering everything from virtual seminars on countless topics to online college courses to earn college degrees. So it's no surprise that people look to the Web to learn more about the field of graphics and online design courses.
Fortunately, finding online college courses is easy; there are a multitude of options online. But what makes a good graphic designer isn't just a mix of strong visual acuity and a smart sense of using the Web to gain academic credits. It's more about the skills that go into making creative students.
Attributes like personal style, a sense of typography and imagery, print design and layouts are good starting points for students. Most importantly, learned capabilities like good networking, communication skills and a solid grasp of social media marketing, and a student can be on his or her way to gaining a solid online graphics design degree.
Self-Help for Graphic Designers
A good place to start is Educationinsider.com, which offers a list of top online graphic design courses. Prospective students can learn about available courses, what topics they cover and which courses can be taken that lead to college credit. (Most free courses don't lead to college credit; but those listed at Education Insider have that option.) To earn the academic credit, users watch free video lessons and then pass an examination.
Education Insider offers other courses as well, such as 2-D Design Notes, About.com, Absolute Cross, Adobe, Design Mentor Training, Quark and W3schools.com. These courses cover topics such as designing a graphic design business card, advertising design and learning HTML. Users can earn credit by passing an examination and transferring credit to a college.
The online graphic design magazine Designertoday.com, for example, offers product reviews and tutorials on topics such as pattern fills, creative lettering, abstract art, 3-D text effect, button making, background tile and transparent images.
Planetphotoshop.com includes tutorials, news and tips that instruct users on designing smooth slideshow transitions in Photoshop, mastering a zoom effect for images and properly using the pen tool.
Webdesign.com goes over the designing of Web pages, and has resources students can use to learn more. The course also includes instructions on the use of Web buttons and a section on what makes an effective website while teaching visitors the difference between graphic design and Web design.
Find Art & Design Schools | IADT-Online
Another online source for free graphics and online design is the International Academy of Design & Technology. Its Web design and development programs focus on helping students learn skills in many areas, including website design and other interactive media projects, programming and using content management systems. Courses such as Graphic Design, Game Design & Production and Digital Media Production are all part of the IADT experience.
Students can learn about essential subjects such as search engine optimization, human-computer interaction and client-side scripting development. Users study with instructors, many of whom are experienced Web professionals. IADT stresses choosing the right school is important; by researching and asking the right questions about what they want from their education, students can find a good fit for their Web design education.
Among the considerations that online students need to understand include course timing and flexibility, or how classes will fit with a student's existing schedule. Students may need to lean on admissions support and financial aid, just as with regular brick-and-mortar schools.
Hands-on learning depends on a student's individual learning methods, IADT says. The best Web design & development schools point out to incorporate a variety of media to provide a multifaceted learning experience. To cater to each student's particular needs, IADT-Online has designed “My Unique Learning Experience,” a student-focused course system that allows users to engage with content using multiple methods to support multiple learning styles. Live chat is also an option. Anyone seeking more info can chat with an IADT representative for help with questions about admissions or specific programs.
The Web design field evolves quickly, as design and visual practices on the Web move forward. Online web design programs are updated to meet the ever-changing languages and other technologies to avoid becoming obsolete.
Other Online Web Design Schools & Course Catalogs
Students interested in Web design for fine arts, which involves Flash animation design, Internet marketing design and general Web design, can be attractive to today's Web-centric students. Among the options available to students include American InterContinental University, Full Sail University and Kaplan University.
Full Sail University is an accredited online university that offers a science degree in Web design and development. Students pursuing a degree in information technology from Kaplan University, an accredited online university, can focus on multimedia and animation. Also available from Kaplan or The Art Institute of Pittsburgh— Online Division is a degree in interactive media design, which gives students skills in website design, scripting, Web content, multimedia design and project management.
Prospective students in online graphic design courses should check out the Partners in Education & Tuition Assistance Program. It notes someone with a degree in graphic design, which can be obtained easily and conveniently online, can pursue careers as craft artists, multimedia artists, art directors, fine artists, printmakers, visual communicators, digital designers and animators.
Regardless of which field the student has an interest with, make sure the graphic design school they choose is accredited. PETAP says the National Association of Schools of Art and Design evaluates study programs to ensure they meet the necessary standards for an accredited degree in graphic design.