Web design series sets out to inspire

by Onize Ohikere

ohikereon@mnstate.edu

As nine MSUM students gathered for the first of what they call a trilogy, humor had a set place.

A slideshow featuring a blue unicorn in a yellow shirt, squirting out rainbows from its horn, had the crowd laughing.

“These are the types of students we want to talk to,” said Shannon Wiedman, a web designer and developer.

MSUM’s web design and development club, along with the graphic communication department, kicked off the first of three sessions in a web design speaker series on Sept. 22. The session featured MSUM alumnae Wiedman and Megan Beck of local web design startup Todaymade. The two also started Fargo’s branch of Girl Develop It, a national nonprofit providing lessons for women to learn coding.

The speaker series began after one professor saw a need for it.

“We cover so much of the technology in class and I wanted an event to supplement what we teach,” professor Alex Fogarty said.

One student agreed that there were benefits.

“I would consider this very informative and engaging,” said graphic communications major Cody Gordon. “Normally you wouldn’t have this level of interaction with these people.”

Wiedman and Beck spoke to the students about their day-to-day activities at work and how projects play out from start to finish.  The duo talked about their initial experience working as web designers with no experience in web development.

“Things would come out not the way I expected,” Beck said.

This mutual frustration led to them encouraging students to learn skills not only in designing, but also in coding.

It was also this frustration that inspired the rise of GDI in Fargo after they noticed there was no nearby option for them and others interested in learning to code.  The first lesson took place last October. Since then, they’ve had more than eight classes with each session selling out.

“It started a new wave of inspiring things,” Wiedman said.

This wave includes advocating for more women in coding.

“I hope we can get rid of the male stigma,” Beck said.

For some students, the session was more than informative as they also learned of possible job opportunities. MSUM professor Fogarty had this is mind while planning, as she said she hopes students understand they don’t have to move to a big city to get jobs in the field.

The next speaker will talk about brand development on Oct. 20, followed by a panel on Nov. 17, which will focus on content management systems.

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