Today's students are savvy consumers. They have decided opinions about design and color shaped by their culture as well as their own insights. I try to encourage creativity rather than limit design choices, and often they learn more from each other than I could possibly teach them. Questions of navigation and structure are addressed in class as well as use of graphics and color as rhetorical elements. For example, one student spent time and effort discussing his views on navigation and structure. He and his project partner encouraged the class to spend less time on image manipulation and more effort on designing an easily navigable site. This had a profound influence on the class as evidenced by the number of navigation bars that suddenly appeared on the bottom of project pages.
The third assignment ( Computers and Writing, Cyberpunk) in both courses was a collaborative exercise. I don't like to force my students to master HTML, and in a group project they can help one another. However, before the groups begin web work, they have come up with a topic (to meet the assignment's specifications) and then they have to design the web (or MUD) site on paper before they started authoring.
Frankly, the results have often surprised me. I have been teaching HTML to first year composition students since 1994 and the resulting work has only gotten better (I can't fault earlier classes, since my teaching of HTML has undoubtedly improved as well). In evaluations of the course, students consistently mention mastering the web as a turning point in the class. If I could evaluate my students, I would have to say that I was fortunate to learn from them. To read more about it, please go to the frame-based presentation of design rules that I have learned from my students accompanied by their examples.