Backgrounder Backgrounder


The purpose of aka World Organization of Webmasters of Webmasters (WOW) is to support and enhance the role of individuals and organizations who create, manage or market web sites. We support our members by providing continuing education and Web professional certification as well as technical, employment and member advantage services. We enhance our membership by providing a community where discussion and information exchange can operate freely in the context of mutual trust and benefit.

Strategic Initiatives

  • Foster membership prosperity through productivity;
  • Create technical innovation through standards setting;
  • Provide distribution of timely and quality information;
  • Promote diversity in the workplace;
  • Participate in research and development.

Members current membership includes thousands of individual, government and corporate level members. Membership in the is offered both to individuals and organizations who create, manage and market their own web sites, and to public- or private sector employees who play a leading role in shaping their organizations’ on-line strategy.


Web professionals who create, manage and maintain content on the Web are becoming mission-critical employees. The World Organization of Webmasters’ served market is approaching 900,000 individuals today. At the highest level of analysis, Web professionals fall into one of the following groups:

  • Web Designers are masters of the visual arts and creating look and feel that drives a successful website, that capture and keep visitors’ interest and usable designs that meet or exceed the requirements and preferences of their audience.
  • Web Developers who create web tools and special web functionality. They use database tools and custom applications to enable the site to deliver the highest quality experience to the user.
  • Webmasters who are responsible for all aspects of an organization’s web presence, including web content development, technical operations, and business management.
  • Web Administrators are masters at acquiring and configuring the hardware and software infrastructure behind successful sites. These technology professionals possess expertise in servers, routers, security, network management, and systems maintenance.
  • Content Developers who create content and adapt others’ content for presentation on the web.
  • E-Commerce Managers are masters at developing and executing web marketing and e-commerce strategies and operations. They understand customer and organizational needs and define and manage the goals and needs of the site.
  • Web Consultants are professionals in designing, building and overseeing Web sites for medium or large companies or personal businesses as the Web manager or project manager.

Services & Benefits

World Organization of Webmasters members will have access to the online discussion forums and be able to attend national and regional gatherings on the latest in web site design and development, emerging technologies, professional level certification for aspiring and practicing Web professionals, and other topics;

  • An online Members’ Section offers reviews of current technical, design, legal, security and marketing issues facing the electronic commerce industry;
  • An On-Line Technical Forum offers service and technical assistance via e-mail;
  • A Web professional Employment Referral Service, marketed by the World Organization of Webmasters web site and industry trade publications, is planned to bring together Webmasters and companies in need of accredited candidates;
  • A quarterly online Newsletter will provide up-to-date news on cool sites, techno-tips and association news;
  • National Web professional Conferences at which members can learn about new product offerings and educational services from speakers, panels and networking;
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance at competitive rates are offered by WOW corporate partners in the insurance field to protect members and corporate assets in business on the net;
  • A Webmaster Advantage Program is to offer group discounts on airfares, rental cars, hotels, long-distance telephone rates, pagers and more. This program will allow members to utilize their collective purchasing strengths to negotiate discounts on a variety of services.

Laying the Foundation

Back in 1996, recognized that the educational resources that existed for Web professionals lacked the quality of instructional design and was overly expensive. Additionally, companies that employed Web professionals had no way to compare candidates, and no yardstick to lay out promotions and salary increases. On the other side of the desk, the candidates, all self-trained, had no way to demonstrate or even assess their skill levels. understood that a comprehensive education and certification program would be a win for both the Web professional community and for those that hired them. also recognized that an organized effort and would develop the pathway for aspiring and practicing Web professionals and educators who teach them.

Moreover, realizing that a candidate’s membership in such a community could constitute a “standard,” WOW decided that offering certification courses to the community would close the loop for candidates, as well as those who needed to hire them, by creating objective measures for skill-level assessment. was founded with those three goals in mind, and continues to build on all three fronts:

  • Community
  • Education
  • Certification

webmaster-summit-lake-tahoeLeading academic intuitions and industry professionals gather for WOW’s First Annual Web Professional Summit, Lake Tahoe, CA

What should the program include? How should it be taught? What resource materials were required? What should the goals be? To get the industrial-strength help WOW needed, WOW arranged a “Webmaster Summit” in January 1998. Representatives from Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, Oracle, Microsoft, Adobe, and others came to Lake Tahoe to help identify urgent needs and define a high quality response in the form of achievement credentials and competency standards. educational and certification journey was born as a result of that summit.

The program grew out of a broad coalition of industry and academic experts, and the skill-set definitions have since been adopted by the U.S. Department of Labor. Certified Professional Webmaster (CPW) course provides Web professional competency in four areas: technical, design, content management, and business. In the technical area, skill sets include such topics as system configuration, communications protocols, performance criteria, operating systems, proxy servers and web security. Content management includes user-interface design, authoring languages, server-side scripting, multimedia, and graphics. Web business management includes principles of finance, legal issues, project management, and marketing as they apply to Web-related activities. Other WOW certification programs will lead Web professionals to deepen their knowledge and hone their skills in specific subjects. Certificate holders have a broad understanding of the various technical components of a website and, of critical importance, they understand how a website can support the organization’s strategic business objectives.

webmaster-summitLeading industry and academic institutions gather at WOW’s Annual Web Professional Summit in conjunction with the IW3C2 Conference Honolulu, Hawaii

Every year, hosts a summit for educators. In 2002, for example, WOW held a full-day summit event in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii, in collaboration with the International World Wide Web (IW3C2) Conference. Participants included Macromedia, Adobe, The University of Hawaii, DeVry University, and several community colleges and businesses local to the area.

Seventeen months after the initial summit conference in Lake Tahoe, WOW announced its alliance with Prentice Hall Technical Reference, a leading publisher of computer science and engineering materials. PTR agreed to publish four titles as part of “The Foundations of Web Site Architecture” Series and three titles as part of “The Advanced Web Site Architecture” Series. Written by working professionals and academics currently teaching the material, these WOW-endorsed Study Guides have been reviewed by professors at major universities and vetted by the WOW Review Board, which consists of Web-industry professionals. Each Study Guide is integrated with a supporting Companion Web site, and Prentice Hall PTR publishes WOW-certified interactive, multimedia CD-ROMs as part of its award-winning Complete Training Course Series.


Through Prentice Hall’s Custom Publishing Program, the WOW-certified Study Guides are offered to universities, community colleges, technical schools, and high schools in a manner that allows schools to pick and choose just those parts of the Study Guides they need for their courses.

Mayor Susan Golding of San Diego and Bill Cullifer, WOW Executive Director welcome students to WOW’s national programmentoring-san-diego

In 1997, WOW and The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship launched a national model for mentoring aspiring Web professionals students The goal of the program is to bring young “at risk” students into a hands-on environment with computers and mentors. These mentors include technologists, teachers, companies that employ web professionals, and web experts and will help students develop a high-level understanding of a web professional’s responsibilities, what opportunities currently exist and what the future holds.

In 2000, and its partners received a $1.7 million federal grant from the Department of Education. Others in the educational alliance are the University of Washington, Prentice Hall Publishers, the Public Broadcasting System, Coastline Community College and hundreds of education alliance partners from colleges, universities and training companies worldwide.

The grant was used by and its partners to create four certificate programs, each with its own online study guide, dealing with the development, management, and use of the Internet and Intranets. Each program is a series of linked three-course sequences. In addition, the Distance Learning Design unit, comprised of a dozen expert instructional designers, is formatted standardized curricula into an asynchronous online distance-learning format that can be delivered anywhere, anytime. The Public Broadcasting System (PBS), the world’s premier distributor of video and Web-based educational materials for higher education, agreed to market and license the certificate programs and the accompanying PTR course materials to schools on PBS stations nationally and internationally. PBS also worked with the partnership to develop and market videos.

Current Certifications

The following exams are available at the apprentice level:

  • Certified Web Designer Apprentice
  • Certified Apprentice Webmaster
  • Certified Web Developer Apprentice
  • Certified Web Administrator Apprentice

Associate Level Exams:

  • Certified Web Designer Associate
  • Certified Associate Webmaster
  • Certified Web Developer Associate
  • Certified Web Administrator Associate

Professional Level WOW Exams:

  • Certified Professional Webmaster
  • Certified Professional Web Designer
  • Certified Professional Web Developer
  • Certified Professional Web Administrator

Additional WOW Exams:

  • Certified E-Commerce Manager
  • Certified Web Consultant

Education Alliance

In November 2000, the organization partnered with two of the leading community college conferences, the League of Innovation and the Community College Foundation. Together, the League’s Conference on Information Technology and the Community College Foundation Tech Ed event attracts thousands of the “who-who” within the community college including, faculty, staff, and key administration decision makers that are in the market for IT solutions and partners.
In addition to promoting WOW’s Education Alliance with thousands of community colleges worldwide, host a series of teacher training workshops and courses included Web Design Certification and Content Development, which covers information, site and structure, and page design; HTML tags; and accessibility and usability, Web Servers, E-Commerce, Web Security and Marketing and covers technical and business issues related to Website design and development.

In December 2000, announced a partnership with the Government Technology Conference, (GTC) one of the largest inter-governmental events in the country. Held annually in Sacramento (CA), Albany (NY), Austin (TX), and Raleigh (NC), GTC draws more than 35,000 attendees from state and local governments nationwide. has been enormously successful at creating alliances with industry and education partners. Each partner brings new expertise and new opportunities to expand and disseminate WOW curricula and accelerate the deployment of standards for Web professionals and their employers.

wow-iron-chefTop programmers from Collaxa, Microsoft, Oracle, Universal Data Interface Corporation and webMethods joinw WOW live on the show floor at Comdex Las Vegas to compete for top prizes. Microsoft edged out rival teams to claim the grand prize. webMethods finished with a close second and Collaxa rounded out the top three in the overall competition. webMethods walked away with first place in the individual category of System Performance. participates in dozens of national and international trade shows and conferences each year. In addition to exhibiting and participating in community building events, WOW developed series of “WOW Iron Chef” Competitions modeled after its namesake a popular television show on the cooking channel where top Web Designers, Web Developers, Webmasters and Web Design Firms Compete to Conceive and Create a Working Web site for a non-profit agency or a Web service in one day on the show floor.

comdex-sweedenWOW announces that team Gimlisoft (Partner of Oracle AB), wins the WOW Iron Chef of Web Services Challenge in Gothenburg at the COMDEX Sweden 2004 conference. Iron Chef competitions are live, exciting events where participants compete for excellence in a given specialty area of the Web profession. The competitions take place on the exhibit floors of some of the industry’s most important gatherings: Comdex, Seybold, and Network+InterOp and MacWorld. Tapping into the talents of partners, members, conference attendees, and the community at large, WOW’s Iron Chef Competitions combine spicy entertainment with timely and satisfying education. Participating corporations have include Oracle, Microsoft and some of the most notable corporations and Web design and Development forms from around the globe.

Every other year, designs and distributes an electronic survey to its own members and of those surveyed, Eighty percent of the respondents noted that professional certification added value and 91% reported interest in upgrading skills to achieve certification.

Academic Alliance

web-design-curriculumWOW and its partners continue to create affordable, high-quality, affordable and licensable content for programs associated with the development and management of the Internet and Intranets. WOW’s certified programs are now available through numerous educational institutions and international training companies. WOW continues to work closely with its partners to ensure WOW curricula not only meet the needs of web professionals, but that test bank items are reliable for assessing skills for certification. In fact, the WOW Certified Web Professional Program is the only Web professional program recognized by Cisco Systems and other notable industry partners, education, and government as the standard for educating web professionals in a global marketplace. Cisco Academies currently provide training to 1,000 centers throughout the U.S. mapping to WOW’s certification programs.

In January 2003, introduced its first security-oriented course: “Cyber Security Fundamentals: Underground Hacker Secrets Exposed,” focusing members and students on one of the most important topics in our tech-savvy, post 9/11 world. Students gain understanding of basic protection of information against unauthorized disclosures, transfer, modification, or destruction; how publicly available free tools are used by today’s most notorious hackers; and strategies for defending IT systems against them.

webdesign-conest-wowLater in 2003, and the Cisco Networking Academy Program announced the first national skills-based web design contest. WOW has offered several contests and design challenges since, including “iron chef” events in which teams compete against each other, as well as the clock, and will stage others in the future. In his announcement of the winners, Cullifer pointed out that such contests serve to highlight not only the technical skills necessary to win, but also business and collaborative team building skills, “the qualities companies look for when hiring today’s web designers.”

In January 2004 and SkillsUSA, (formerly VICA) a national organization serving one-quarter-million high school and college students, announced their collaboration on a national Web design contest for students in high school and college-level institutions.

The goals of the contest included: inspiring and furthering student participation in Web professional careers; developing a better understanding of the profession among educators, students and parents; collaborating between industry and education; and recognizing outstanding students for excellence and professionalism in the field of Web design and Webmastering.

In the fourth quarter, 2004, WOW participated in two important events: The Second Annual Education Web Professional Summit, November 7-10, at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, FL, and the Web Content Management and Web Services Conference, November 12, 13, 14, in Las Vegas.

In 2004, continues to advance the cause for Web professionals with WOW’s Advisory Board reviewing existing certification standards and creating an avenue to make these standards available to today’s web instructors to help map their curriculum and provide a pathway for students as they progress through high school, college and graduate school.

Since its inception in 1998, WOW has formed hundreds of partnerships with corporations and educational institutions and attracted thousands of members worldwide. In his announcement of the most recent partnership (in October, 2004), Cullifer said: “The partnership is about providing aspiring web professionals the appropriate depth and breadth of skills to compete in a very competitive job market.” WOW now offers an extensive array of resources online, for self study and for traditional classroom use. is a non-profit organization, and the staff understands its mission and objectives very well. Ask any one of them about their own role in the organization, though, and the answer will sound like WOW is a mission-critical resource for both corporations and web workers: “WOW connects buyers and sellers. Companies need us to help them assess and deploy webmasters, and webmasters need us to sharpen their skills and be able to demonstrate their competence. WOW is simply the world’s best conduit to connections and resources related to the web. We are essential for doing business in the new economy.”

In 2005, was invited to present a workshop at the Fourteenth International World Wide Web Conference ( this month in Chiba, Japan. I attended the conference along with accomplished Web developer Molly Holzschlag, who presented WOW’s Current Best Practices in Web Development and Design workshop.

In 2006 announces “Web Professionals Day” celebrating a day in the life of Webmasters in collaboration with GoDaddy.

In 2007 participated in the www2007 international event in Banff, Canada. In addition to conducting a full day workshop WOW delivered WOW exams to Web professionals attending the event from around the globe. The following video provides insights regarding WOW’s efforts.

wow-technology-minute-itunes-lgIn 2008 WOW introduced the Web Professional Minute (later changed to the Web Professional Minute) for the purpose of providing WOW members with daily podcast, web pro news and interviews of leading Web professionals in industry education and government.

Also in 2008 WOW in colaboration with the Adobe Corporation announce the Web Pro Challenge to benefit internationally recognized non profit organizations by offering a complete Web redesign.

In 2009 WOW celebrated its 5th annual National Web Design Contest in Kansas City, MO with thirty U.S. states participating.

web-buyer-guide-logo-300-60In summer of 2009, WOW introduced the Web Buyer Guide for the purpose of connecting Web buyers and sellers and to report on Web products and services of interest to the Web professional community.

In 2010, WOW introduced its formalized Advocacy plan:


The organization is supported by a consortia of industry professionals, publishers, educators, government agencies and groups coming together for the benefit promoting awareness and jobs within the Web profession.

The organizations and initiatives for example aims to support and advocate on behalf of the Web profession and Web centric occupations within Information Technology (IT) by:

• convening stakeholders to establish collaboration between business, the Web and IT profession, education and government to develop a clear, concise and consistent communication strategy regarding why innovation and information technology is good for business, commerce, competitiveness and jobs.

• developing an effective advocacy plan and implementation strategies that support Web and IT innovation and Information Technology adoption and best practices.

• promoting general awareness of Career Technical Education (CTE) and information technology (IT) through websites, workshops, conferences and award ceremonies.

• fostering relationships and linkages between business and industry, education, career technical student organizations and government agencies to insure a continual pipeline of IT professionals with skills that aligns to industry demand.

• promoting IT literacy into general education curriculum to equip all graduates with these basic skills.

• Identifying and aligning resources that will assist students, teachers, career changers and the incumbent workers to prepare for the IT profession and employment.

• focusing on promoting diversity and under-represented groups, difficult to reach populations and non-traditional learning organizations including women and minorities.

• providing relevant, workable, accessible instructional design strategies for learners in traditional and online methods in partnership with K-12 schools, community colleges, universities and Regional Occupational Programs

What people are saying about WOW?

Continued collaboration between SJCC and professional organizations such as WOW enable us to serve our students better by providing current information about job skills and employment opportunities.” — Lucy Dodge, San Jose City College

I feel honored to be a part of this vital collaborative community! Together we are creating the standards for professionalism that will guide what happens in our classrooms today and lead to success on the web tomorrow. The challenges ahead of us loom large, but the camaraderie, wisdom and collective knowledge base of this group arms us well. This is the most important professional development initiative with which I have been involved.— Penny Haun, Hillsborough Community College

As a participant in a previous Web Design contest developed and conducted by WOW, I can say firsthand that the Web Design contest is a great opportunity for the students to learn real-life experience outside the classroom environment,” “Students learn the importance of creating a Web site to meet the needs of the customer, not just to the designer’s personal taste. Students also learn from the real-life experience of working collaboratively and how to deal with creative differences of team members.— Gabriel Ruiz, Instructor at Border Institute of Technology in El Paso, Texas.

With the “get rich” schemes and broken promises to deliver qualified Webmasters after 30 days of training out of the way, it’s time to focus on delivering programs that provide students the right depth and breadth of skills required in today’s competitive job market. I’m proud to be a part of this national initiative to create mapable, stackable, portable certification and degree level programs that will provide students with the skills they deserve and that employers demand“. — Mark DuBois, Associate Professor, Illinois Central College WOW Certified Professional Web Designer Instructor.

What people are saying about WOW Certifications?

“Any industry that wants to be taken seriously needs to have set of coherent standards and thanks to WOW we are working towards that. The WOW exam was extremely difficult but thorough. I feel I’ve found the right organization to hook up with.”Steve Zachar, Senior Web Producer, Electronic Commerce Department, Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC and WOW Certified Professional Web Developer

“I have taken the other certifications exams and I know after taking WOW’s exams the chances of a 15 year old opening a book and talking practice test to pass the exam is non existent. I have the confidence that a WOW certified professional is someone who has the skills and can do the job.”Kathy Johnson, Assistant Professor of DeVry University and WOW Certified Web Administrator Associate.

“The WOW Web Developer certification course was the best of show. Molly Holzschlag was fantastic! The WOW exam covered the right breadth and depth of knowledge that a professional Web Developer should posses. Very well done.”Inigo Figuracion, Webmaster and WOW Certified Professional Web Developer, Zoological Society of San Diego.

What people are saying about WOW Conferences and Workshops?

“At CMS and Web Services Conference we learned the great benefits of Content Management Systems and Web Services. We also learned the importance of developing meaningful standards, following sound project management practices, and utilizing the systems approach in a disciplined fashion. It is time for us to stop repeating the mistakes of the past. This time we must get it right by learning from history. If we can implement what we discussed at this conference, we are well on the road to success.”Leon Adkison, Ph.D., Professor of Systems Director of Systems Program, Ronald McDaniel Chair of the Computing and System Sciences Department, Taylor University

“Too often the issues of Content Management and Web Services are discussed separately but WOW’s conference provided me with the information that I needed to keep my students abreast of these current trends as used in business and industry today.” Marie Taylor Harper, CPW, CPWDS Instructor, BUS/CS Division De Anza College

“The WOW Education Web professional Summit is just the beginning of an exciting conference for attendees. For those web professionals who might think the League’s Conference on Information Technology is just for teachers, they are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to find out what other college’s are doing with their web services, and to broaden their perspectives on how their web presence can better serve students, faculty, staff and community. The forums are a great chance to hear others’ experiences with portals, student systems, online courses, and a myriad of student service issues from many different points of view. The Exhibition Hall offers access to dozens of new technologies and Hands On Alley offers mini-instruction on various software. I come back from CIT with renewed enthusiasm every year.” Vicki Westergard, Web Coordinator St. Petersburg College

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