An updated version is available.

The Web Design & Development I curriculum was updated in 2012, and continues to be updated with new content and features in 2013. Please see version 2.0 for the updated version.

You are currently reading the home page of the previous version of the curriculum, which was last updated in August 2009. You are encouraged to switch to the new version whenever feasible. We are no longer updating or supporting this earlier version, and it will be discontinued in July 2014.

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The Web Design & Development I course curriculum is a project-based introduction to web design developed for use in secondary schools, grades 9-12. The curriculum emphasizes standards-based and accessible design, is cross-platform and vendor-neutral, and is freely available for teachers to use in their own classrooms. The curriculum was designed by a team of high school web design teachers in Bellingham, Washington, working in collaboration with the National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education (AccessIT), with input from web design teachers nationwide, as well as from professionals working in careers related to the design and development of web content.

Course Description

The Web Design & Development I curriculum is an introduction to the design, creation, and maintenance of web pages and websites. Students learn how to critically evaluate website quality, learn how to create and maintain quality web pages, learn about web design standards and why they're important, and learn to create and manipulate images. The course progresses from introductory work on web design to a culminating project in which students design and develop websites for local community organizations.

Course Objectives

Guiding Principles

Guiding principles for Web Design & Development I are that the curriculum

  1. emphasizes standards-based and accessible design;
  2. begins by building a foundation of design theory principles, and all web design techniques are taught with these principles in mind;
  3. is project-based;
  4. is cross-platform, and not linked to any specific software manufacturer;
  5. includes soft skill elements (i.e., organizational skills and the ability to communicate effectively with team members and clients);
  6. provides students with an opportunity for "real world" experience designing and developing websites for local community organizations.

Course Structure

The curriculum begins by establishing a foundation of design theory principles that are revisited regularly throughout the course. Students apply these principles in building a rubric by which all of their web design projects are measured. Once this foundation is established, the curriculum teaches the basics of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), emphasizing document structure and content. Only after a document's structure and content are in place do students manipulate the appearance of the content using Cascading Styles Sheets (CSS) and images. Unit 4 provides a variety of basic skills in graphic design, and subsequent units explore site management, server-side and scripting technologies, and effective use of web authoring tools. The final unit outlines a culminating project in which students are partnered with local community organizations to design and develop websites on their behalf.

On Standards

The present curriculum teaches standards-compliant web design and is itself grounded in national industry skills standards and national education standards. Each of these is described below.

National Skill Standards

This course curriculum is grounded in the Skill Standards for Information Technology, developed by the National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies (NWCET). NWCET first identified IT skill standards in 1996, and have worked extensively to validate and build upon these standards. The NWCET skill standards identify those skills that United States industry has agreed upon as being critical for success in particular areas of IT known as career clusters. The standards are used widely in education as a basis for curriculum development and in industry as a basis for job descriptions and career pathways. In developing this curriculum, the authors utilized the 2003 Edition of the Skills Standards, and focused particularly on the Web Development and Administration career cluster. A list of skills standards, and how this curriculum addresses each, is provided on our Information Technology Skills Standards page. The curriculum was further shaped by hands-on experience in the workplace and via discussions with web developers, web and IT managers and administrators, and IT policy makers at local, state, and federal levels.

National Education Standards

The leading organization in facilitating development of standards related to technology in education is the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). ISTE has led the development of the widely adopted National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), standards which guide educational leaders in recognizing and addressing the essential conditions for effective use of technology to support Pre K-12 education. Included within the NETs are Technology Foundation Standards for Students, which describe what students should know about technology and be able to do with technology. More information about these standards, and how the current curriculum supports them, is available on our Curriculum and Content Area Standards page.

Web Design Standards

Web standards play an increasingly integral role in the web's realizing its full potential as a global interactive medium. Web users are becoming increasingly diverse, and their diversity is manifested in the technologies they use to access the web. For example, a growing number of people use non-traditional devices such as wireless phones and handheld computers. Also, many individuals with disabilities use interfaces that differ, sometimes significantly, from the traditional combination of monitor, keyboard, and mouse. In order for web designers to deliver web content that is perceivable, operable, and usable by all users, they must design in accordance with web standards, particularly those developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Prior to the present curriculum, very little web design taught in secondary schools has stressed standards compliance. Instead, secondary students have been learning web design techniques that result in web pages that are accessible only to a narrow audience. By learning to design and develop accessible, standards-based websites, students not only learn highly marketable technical skills but also learn to consider the role of technology in society and to appreciate human diversity.

Using This Curriculum

The Student Edition includes all lesson material, plus links to short videos that introduce each of the first six units. The Teacher Edition includes supplemental information and tips for delivering each lesson. Both the student and Instructor Editions can be accessed online, or can be downloaded for use on local computers. Links to all versions of both editions appear in the sidebar on this page.

The curriculum includes many hyperlinks and is best accessed from a web browser. However, if you prefer printing lessons or other materials, a custom style sheet has been developed that supports print media so if printed, the logo and navigational buttons will not appear at the top of the page.

Teachers are encouraged to supplement these materials with additional activities, including guest speakers from the local web design community and visits to relevant local businesses. These connections with the real world of web design help to introduce students to the IT workplace and related employment opportunities.

The curriculum design process has included multiple test runs in the authors' classrooms, and the authors' personalized tips are provided for delivering each lesson.

Credits and Copyright

This course curriculum was designed for use in secondary classrooms, and can be freely copied, downloaded, and/or used for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged.

This course is an update of curriculum developed in 2000-2001 as part of the Whatcom Tech Prep Consortium's (WTPC) Industry Skills Standards/IT Career Pathway project, a project funded by Washington State's School-to-Work Transition grant through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The original curriculum was developed by Joe McAuliffe, Don Helling, and Karll Rusch, all web design instructors in the Bellingham School District, Bellingham, Washington. The updated curriculum was developed by original author Joe McAuliffe, with assistance from original author Don Helling, plus Terry Thompson and Jason Myers of AccessIT at the University of Washington. Funding was provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education (grant #H133D010306). The curriculum is currently maintained by the AccessComputing project with support from the National Science Foundation as part of the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program of the Directorate for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) (grant #CNS-0540615,CNS-0837508, and CNS-1042260). The contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the U.S. federal government, and you should not assume their endorsement.