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  1. #1
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    web developer qualifications

    Is there a standard qualification/certification that I can ask for when selecting a web developer. I have noticed that w3schools.com has a html certification. Would it be reasonable to use this a a guide for skill level?

  2. #2
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Check to make sure they are skilled and proficient in (X)HTML, CSS, JavaScript, your server-side programming language and database of choice; cross-browser compatability issues, usability, and accessibility.

    Literally sit them down in front of a computer, give them a text editor (just to make things even worse, give them Notepad) and tell them to belt out a complete, 100% valid, semantic and warning-free Web page.

    For graphics, find out what graphics program they use, then sit them down and have them create the layout for your site.

    Keep in mind this is the "final" stage of the selection process.

    What about before then?

    Well, you have to check their business references, before you even do anything, of course. Also take a look at their portfolio. If the sites they have in their portfolios appear to be visually stunning, but the HTML doesn't even validate, then thank them for their time and show them the door. Same thing if their code is not semantic, or even formatted properly.

    If the HTML does validate, check their CSS for errors and warnings. Again, if any show up, thank them for their time and show them the door.

    Finally, if the (X)HTML and CSS do validate, check their JavaScript. Any errors, well, I'm sure you know the drill by now.

    Yeah, I'm hard. I have to be. These are the standards I set myself to. Theyr'e also the standards I think we ALL should aspire to. The longer we let sloppy code exist on the Web, the harder it's going to be for us to improve our skills, while also showing those who follow in our footsteps that such bad practices are not only acceptable, but the proper way to do things.

  3. #3
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    Moved to Careers and Education!
    Sara

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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz
    Literally sit them down in front of a computer, give them a text editor (just to make things even worse, give them Notepad) and tell them to belt out a complete, 100% valid, semantic and warning-free Web page.
    That would sort the men from the boys!

  5. #5
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    Based on the previous thread. Am I right in assuming that there is no easy way of checking qualifications/skills level?

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    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    The closest you can come to (without using my techniques, which I outlined above) is to ask for (at the very least) all applicants to have an associate's (preferably a bachelor's) degree in Computer Sciences, with a preference towards graphic and Web site design.

    That's the main reason no one in my area will hire me (as in the traditional sense--to become an employee) - I lack both. Why? Not because I'm incapable of doing the job (I think anyone here back me up on this), but because I am self-taught. They demand a degree, the presence (or lack thereof) they use to screen applicants before they even sit down to even read the rest of the resume. And if the resume passes their tests (references, work history, portfolio, etc), then they'll call you in for an interview.

    Just understand that if you go down that route, you'll be potentially missing out on a diamond in the rough who didnt have the money to afford college, but stuck to his/her guns and taught him/herself, and continues to self-improve and learn regardless of how good the person gets.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot milenko1054's Avatar
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    Being 'qualified' to design your web site depends a lot on what your end goals are for that web site.

    If you value a technically sound and forward compatable design, Dan offers good suggestions in checking technical skill with html and web standards compliance.

    If you value visual design skill ('look and feel') over how well the html is written, a design with a photoshop image chopped up and displayed in an html table or a flash-oriented design may be better for you.

    It is possible to get both, but designers that are both technically sound and offer visually stunning work will come at a premium cost.

    If you have the budget, go for both - but otherwise, my advice is to determine what features of a web site design(er) (copywriting, web standards compliance, look and feel, forward compatability, seo optimization, etc.) are most important to your project and make your decision based on that.
    Last edited by milenko1054; Oct 12, 2006 at 09:02. Reason: Typos


  8. #8
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    If I have the budget. How do i find the web designers that are both technically sound and offer visually stunning work?

    The reason I am asking about level of skill or qualification is that I need to build a team of web developers that would be available to make small modifications to users sites. When a site/business joins our membership we need to place an icon of membership on their site. I want to provide a list of designers that understand our aim and rules of using the icon. I am concerned about recommending a designer to do the work without having qualified them. Any suggestions on how I can build a list of designers capable of doing this. I am grateful of any advice.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Zealot milenko1054's Avatar
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    You could visit the sites of some of the designers that post on Sitepoint and whose viewpoints on design you agree with and take a look at their portfolio.

    If you approve of their design skills, do the test mentioned above for technical skill and approach them with your ideas.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz
    Literally sit them down in front of a computer, give them a text editor (just to make things even worse, give them Notepad) and tell them to belt out a complete, 100% valid, semantic and warning-free Web page.
    Are they allowed to test it, or does it have to be perfect the first time you open it up in a browser? :P
    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what
    it might appear to others that what you were or might
    have been was not otherwise than what you had been
    would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    check their CSS for errors and warnings. Again, if any show up, thank them for their time and show them the door
    That's going to be a busy door. A good approach if you value your time at nothing. Sounds to me like a slow way to find a web designer, or a long way not to find one.

    And I'd also fail the notepad test not having memorised any doctypes off by heart. Doesn't mean I'll neglect to use one when building a site though.

  12. #12
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    It's difficult, maybe even impossible, to quantify especially when you're talking about the graphical side as well. A portfolio says a lot about a person. There so much to cover I don't think sitting someone down and testing them in exhaustive enough.

    Also, I find if you talk to someone in the same industry as you you get an idea as to their capabilites just by the vibe they give off. This has proved itself correct many times at work when we have done interviews. However, this is no good if you're after a web developer but are not one yourself.

    Either way, I'd forget about trying to look for a qualification. Even a related-degree doesn't say a lot about someone.

    The best thing to do is to look at the calibre of clients in their portfolio and if they're any good ask for some references.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Member feros's Avatar
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    Show someone the door because they can't validate their HTML? What are you smoking? When selecting a web developer the least of your concerns should be valid HTML. You can pay a teenager $50 to validate your HTML/CSS (and I have plenty that do so for me) - that part is easy. Sitepoint is always funny with its CSS nazis

    Your main concern when looking for a web developer is the portfolio and references. If you like their work and they have a good track record, then there shouldn't be a problem. Certification in the web development world means very little - I know plenty of "certified" people who barely make anything worth visiting. I have absolutely no certification and am actually a 4th year History major, yet I still get subcontracted work from the local ("certified") firms often.

    The portfolio and references is what you want to be looking at.
    Matt Coddington - Freelance Web Designer

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard mPeror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Szhulz
    Literally sit them down in front of a computer, give them a text editor (just to make things even worse, give them Notepad) and tell them to belt out a complete, 100% valid, semantic and warning-free Web page.
    You're just trying to frustrate them. How about a very simple HTML editor like Pspad for example? at least they will be able to tell markup from text so you get to know the things that matters most faster (not if they can do it in Notepad or not). Also, even professional developers/designers commit some markup errors by mistake, and use the validator to spot and fix them. Now THAT should be the test in that area. If they can fix it, they're good. If they can't, then they aren't. Your test suits robots more than human beings.

    If you really want to test a developer/designer, then give them a computer with an internet access, let them any reference they want and give them a chance to fix their mistakes. Why would i memorize all these CSS properties and JS functions with their parameters (for example) when i can find them quickly on the internet?

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict telos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz
    The closest you can come to (without using my techniques, which I outlined above) is to ask for (at the very least) all applicants to have an associate's (preferably a bachelor's) degree in Computer Sciences, with a preference towards graphic and Web site design.
    I completely disagree with that statement. I have seen many people come out of a "degree" program and know absolutely nothing about the "real world" of thier field.

    Don't get me wrong, there are valuable things you can learn from a degree program. But that should not be the only thing you look for. When I am looking for someone to hire, I could care less what "qualifictions" they have other than what thier work can attest to. If they have 5 pages of degrees and certifications, but can't apply in any of it a way that is productive and effective - what good is it? (Please understand, I am NOT against degrees, nor do I think that everyone who has one fits into this box.)

    So, now what...
    Look at thier past web sites. Does the code validate? Does it work cross-platform? Does it appeal to the right market? Does it work the way it is supposed to? And most importantly, does it accomplish what it was intended to accomplish?

    A site could validate with flying colors, could have the latest technology, sport the coolest design youve ever seen and be a complete failure, all at the same time.

    You need a developer who can take your idea and turn it into a functional, efficient and powerful tool to accomplish an objective.

    Contact the owner of previously developed sites and ask them a few questions.

    In short, there is no "Certified Web Developer Program" (and if there were, you have to get recertified every few months, it seems, since technology changes so rapidly).

    Just my 2.62 cents.

    [Edit: A degree in some fields are completely manditory. For example, who would go to a doctor without a PhD? Web Design and Development is NOT one of those fields.]

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard mPeror's Avatar
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    I didn't notice the degree part. I completley agree with telos. I have an associate degree in Computer Science, and i know it didn't benefit me much in web development. Universities world wide still teach retarded courses when it comes to web development. Usability and accessability for example aren't even mentioned.

  17. #17
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    Personally, i think your wasting your time asking for "Qualifications"

    Just because someone can perform in the classroom, doesnt mean they will do any good in a real life situation. I've hired MANY developers / designers who have just left university, Turns out they would have been better suited to flipping burgers in McDonalds.

    You should base your selection on a strong portfolio. People will argue .. "How am i meant to get a portfolio together when i cant get the jobs in the first place " ... You dont need "Client" work to prepare a portfolio. Ask them to prepare a website for personal use.

    If its good looking, and the code Validates, its fair to say that you may have just found your next website developer

    Dan

  18. #18
    Guru in training bronze trophy SoulScratch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by feros
    Show someone the door because they can't validate their HTML? What are you smoking? When selecting a web developer the least of your concerns should be valid HTML. You can pay a teenager $50 to validate your HTML/CSS (and I have plenty that do so for me) - that part is easy. Sitepoint is always funny with its CSS nazis

    Your main concern when looking for a web developer is the portfolio and references. If you like their work and they have a good track record, then there shouldn't be a problem. Certification in the web development world means very little - I know plenty of "certified" people who barely make anything worth visiting. I have absolutely no certification and am actually a 4th year History major, yet I still get subcontracted work from the local ("certified") firms often.

    The portfolio and references is what you want to be looking at.
    I agree.


    @ not hiring someone because they have errors on validation. That is completely retarded.
    Cross browser css bugs

    Dan Schulz you will be missed

  19. #19
    Web developer Carl's Avatar
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    Too much extremism here I think. You want to hire someone that can accomplish the task s that you need done. So make up a list and see if they can do the things on the list. If you yourself cannot make up a list (know the technology involved) then you have no hope of being able to qualify someone.

    Work ethics. Even if they are certified it does not mean they have good daily work habits and document things. Can they follow an outline of a project? Certification does not cover this.

    Are they fanatical? Why do I say this? Because valid code is not the whole world. What if you have 80% IE users and what you want to do requires hacks that would never pass validation? But the developer, a fanatic, decides that Firefox and validation is more important than your visitors?

    Go by word of mouth and reference work. Preferably getting references from a live person as well. And remember always, validation is seriously over-rated when it comes to business.

  20. #20
    <code></code><WoW></WoW> nukeemusn's Avatar
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    There is no magic solution to this problem. It is one that has plauged web developers and business owners for a long time. The advice on here directing towards word of mouth references and portfolios is the best solution I can see, and even that is not fool proof. Valid code IS important, to be sure, but it is not EVERYTHING (And I'm saying this as a developer who validates EVERYTHING he can!)

    Strive for perfect, valid, code. But if that doesn't get the needed results, what are you going to do? Fire the developer and hire another? Chances are, the same thing will happen. It's just that some solutions can't be implemented using valid code. It's that simple.

    For instance, I developed a website and ran it through the W3C validator via uploading the html file. It passed perfectly. It was beautiful, and I was proud of it. Once it got up to the hosting server, it didn't. Why? It was being hosted on Yahoo. Yahoo was putting a few lines of horribly written scripting at the end of the page for tracking purposes. This cause my site to not validate. It wasn't my fault, I had no control. So I switched to 1&1 hosting. The problem went away.

    There are a lot of variables that go into this problem, and as I stated, there's no magic solution. So go with your gut. Find a developer with good references, that you can work with. That's the best you can hope for at this stage of Internet growth.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz
    Literally sit them down in front of a computer, give them a text editor (just to make things even worse, give them Notepad) and tell them to belt out a complete, 100% valid, semantic and warning-free Web page.

    For graphics, find out what graphics program they use, then sit them down and have them create the layout for your site.
    I don't know how you guys operate, but I'd never tolerate this from a client. I write super-neat code without any sort of GUI and it validates, but to be treated like a schoolboy with exams and tests? Well it never came up, but I'm certain I'd balk at such requests. Same goes for them breathing down my neck while I work, the only contact I have with my clients is at meetings where we might discuss technical matters, but I'll never actually do any work with them around.

    The only time something similar came up is when an IT manager of one of my clients started telling me how much time should it take me to do each function of their application, like this should take you three hours, this should take you five hours. I simply told my client that I'm not to be treated like their employee and he apologized, gave his IT manager a look and I got the job.

    Anyway, my portfolio and references should be enough to convince them I'm the man for the job.

    Come to think of it, I'm a bit vague as to who actually does the job. I have a company and my business card says Director and since I don't get into highly technical matters with my clients, most of them might think I have employees or something.

  22. #22
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    This is the main problem with the 'Real World' setting when it comes to university students. They get taught in such a way that they have to conform to what they've been taught or fail, even if they won't ever use that methodology again. For one of my website assignments I was assigned to create a quick web page for a bar. I knocked one out, wrote a storyboard, made a case study, requirements spec, technical spec, competitive analysis, and loads of other documents, then got told that even though it got a distinction (A+ grade) there wasn't enough documentation. I'm pretty sure that in a real life setting a lot of people wouldn't write as much documentation for a site as small as that.

    Other than that, I still feel a degree is a good route to go down to look for a good Web Developer. However, I would demand a good portfolio of at least a few sites. If the guy/girl has just come out of university though give them a 2 week period to create 3 websites to show off. They'll be used to getting the coursework so apply it to the methods of work and I don't see them getting any problems.

  23. #23
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Ok folks. My previous posts were biased towards traditional employment, not independant contract work. I'll post a more accurate list (one for employer/employee relationships and one for client/contractor relationships) soon.

    And for those who took my previous statements out of context, you might want to re-read the posts in their entirety. You'll notice I actually agree with you on most points, specifically on the one about the degree.

    And keep in mind that was written from the POV that there is a presumed employer/employee relationship to be developed, IE, a job applicant being screened for a job, not a client weeding through proposals submitted by independant contractors. Whole different ballgame there, folks.

  24. #24
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    It is a tricky situation. As far as I see it web has changed a lot over the past few years, and it continues to change. University shows us this easily, as lecturers are still teaching how to design in tables and have never heard of validation, but have picked up basic CSS to make their lives easier.

    As far as I can see, a Web Developer who is serious about their work will be up to date with these changes, and will obviously write up-to-date code and design with usability and accessibility in mind. However, the work place is changing a lot as well. I've noticed a lot over the past few years that employees aren't given seperate jobs to do like they were anymore. There are no single Web Designers or Web Developers. Employees work in smaller teams where teamwork and sharing work is the biggest skill used.

    In all honesty, if their code is terrible they don't deserve the job. Validation is something that can be picked up on though. If an employee needs to know more than "how to write xhtml and cs properly" then I wouldn't make such a big deal out of it. In a job that requires knowing the changes in Web Development though, employees will need to be trained on new developments in the web world. Perhaps giving them a few weeks to pick up on the newest skills is needed? I managed to get some students in my classes using valid CSS and HTML within 2 weeks of barely knowing tables so I can't see how mature employees can't.

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    I think, just dedication and hardwork are the main qualifications.

    Thanks


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