Director of Education
I recently returned from the WorldSkills Web Design competition in São Paulo, Brazil and started thinking about web design contests in general. WebProfessionals.org has been involved with these events for the past 15+ years. I have personally run the Illinois Web Design contest for 15 years. We just concluded the 14th year of our national web design contest and we have now been involved in the international web design contest since 2013.
One should ask why we have devoted so many hours and resources to these contests. Yes, lots of time away from home and family and a lot of personal money has gone into making these endeavours successful. Are they really that important? The main reason we have devoted so much effort is that we are promoting professionalism in a nascent industry. Sure, the Web has been around for a couple of decades (I wrote my first HTML in 1992 – yes, that was 23 years ago) but it is still experiencing growing pains. From an educational perspective, we are all over the map in terms of what is being taught in schools (elementary, secondary, post-secondary, technical schools and universities). We need to focus on best practices and web standards. That seems obvious, but we have observed this not to be the case. Hence, the reason for our involvement with these contests. Competitors return from their experience with a clearer sense of what is important in the industry. They are provided with client work orders which encourage established best practices. They realize (those who plan to compete more than once) that they need to adopt these practices. This is what they need to demand they be taught. To help put this into perspective, we have literally touched the lives of thousands of competitors, their peers (they do talk about the contest), and their instructors. We have raised roughly $1.7 million in scholarships and prizes.
Having been highly involved for many years (I have just completed helping with my 30th web design competition at In Illinois, national and international levels), I have begun to realize we also need to focus on sustainability. Yes, this is important, but we have been relying on a handful of practicing professionals. It is time others step up and help. Our profession would benefit from your expertise. Overall the web continues to evolve in many facets. We need to focus on core technologies and have others help us align to emerging technologies as they become important.
If you have read this far, ask yourself what you have done to help the cause for the Web Profession in the area of promoting best practices to aspiring professionals. Our web design contests are a great opportunity for you to become involved in the WebProfessionals.org I encourage you to do so now. Let’s help the next generation build on our accomplishments and make the web even better. Consider a renewing your membership as well as providing insights by becoming a volunteer and actual help in the next round of competitions. They start in just a few months.