What basic principles of the web does a student need to know?

This article was written in 2013. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.

One of the things that strike me when I talk to young professionals who just finished university is that often they lack some pretty basic knowledge. For instance, many young designers know nothing about typography, about grids, about colour theory. Or they know nothing about the fluid nature of the web. I don’t say that these people all have to be experts on all these things, but I do believe that they really have to have a good understanding of some basics and know where to find the details about it.

Why would we want this

There are a few reasons to know what the basics are of your profession. First of all, it’s nice to be able to explain what exactly you do. But that’s not really important. I think it’s more important that having a clear set of principles makes it easier for colleagues from other disciplines to understand what you’re doing. This is handy in a professional environment, it’s also nice in university. If I know that typography is one of the basic principles of graphic design I can easily refer to it in my lessons about CSS. And if a marketing teacher knows that from a UX perspective performance is key, they will be able to use that idea when talking about creating amazing, flashy, marketing campaigns.

What are these principles?

I don’t know what these principles are exactly. But I think I do know how we can define them. I think the basic principles of your profession are those things that will definitely still work in ten years time. So in case of front-end development ActionScript or even JavaScript is not a basic principle, but programming might very well be one. For designers Photoshop is not a principle, but typography is (I think). For people who create stuff for the web, browser specific bugs are not a principle, but understanding that the web is very flexible might be one.

Do you have any?

So now my question to you. If you had to name four or five principles of your profession, what would they be?


  1. Most problems I have had with websites come down to web developers disregarding open standards, accessability, semantics or committing layering violations.