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Recapping the 2024 SkillsUSA Web Design and Development Competition

Recapping the 2024 SkillsUSA Web Design and Development Competition

Last week, Web Professionals Global was proud to once again participate in the 2024 SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference in Atlanta, GA at the Georgia World Congress Center from June 24-28. Web Professionals Global ran the Web Design and Development competition for the 21st year in a row, providing students from a number of states with the opportunity to participate. This follows Web Professionals Global helping to facilitate some state competitions, the winners of which were invited to the national competition. Check out our article from May on how we helped run the state competitions to prepare teams for the national competition.

As Executive Director, I (Mark) would like to thank Dave, Bryce, Dan, Tammy, Na’Im, and Steve for traveling to Atlanta and helping to put on yet another successful competition. The core team (Dave, Bryce, Steve, and Jonathan [who could not be with us this year]) has been helping with this competition for years, and we are so grateful. Dan, Tammy, and Na’Im were new to the team this year. We appreciate the added help. We couldn’t have done it without all of you. 

The competition guidelines were as follows: teams of two completed a series of challenges focusing on creating a website for a client and a specific target audience. Judging focused on meeting the client’s needs, usability and accessibility, and industry-standard best practices. Teams were evaluated on the process they used to meet the challenges and how well they worked as a team. Teams used the internet to access all competition materials (including the coding environment). Additional items such as web accessibility were also evaluated for each site competitors developed.

Our Web Professionals Global Organization SkillsUSA team provided the students with not only a competitive environment to test their technical skills but also real-world training and networking opportunities with professionals.

Week Recap

Monday, June 24

Mark arrived late Sunday and worked with Courtesy Corps to get the tables set up and covered with paper for the competition. He also tested the wireless environment as best he could prior to the stress test of numerous teams on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 25

Competitors took an online exam to verify their knowledge concerning web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, for example). Each team had one hour to complete the exam. We held a mandatory training session where we reviewed the online coding environment and how to use it. Additionally, we hosted a panel discussion with Dan and Tammy (both practicing web professionals) to help competitors better understand the current landscape and job opportunities. AI was discussed at length and competitors developed a better understanding of how this is presently being incorporated into work flows.

Wednesday, June 26

The secondary (high school) competition was held on Wednesday. Competitors were presented with client assets (often oversized images or in the wrong format) along with a back story of the client. Each team was asked to develop their own process and low fidelity wireframes to address the business problems brought by the client. Once the team had completed their wireframes, they were asked to place those aside and they were given more professionally developed low fidelity wireframes for multiple pages. This is what they were asked to implement as a solution in a website (with multiple pages). Each team was also interviewed and was asked separately (by other web professionals) to describe their process and explain how they developed the wireframes they made.

Thursday, June 27

The post-secondary (college) competition was held on Thursday. Competitors were provided with similar materials and a similar approach to creating the websites. After this competition ended, both secondary and post-secondary teams were invited to a debriefing session held in a different room. Competitors were also asked to provide feedback regarding improvements they would like to see in future competitions. Judge comments were also reviewed in general to help competitors better understand what judges saw (and how they might improve on their processes as well as tips for better interviewing in the future). Scores were submitted by 9 p.m.

Friday, June 28

The event wrapped up Friday night with the awards ceremony held in the State Farm Arena. Gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to teams at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. Roughly 17,000 individuals were present in the arena to witness the awarding of medals. There were 115 separate competitions with roughly 6,700 competitors this year. We understand that is the largest number of competitions and competitors in the history of SkillsUSA.

Mark providing guidance to competitors 

Competition Winners

High School

Gold: Rhys J./Steven S., Meridian Technical Charter High School, Meridian, ID

Silver: Leah S./Tyler C., Barren County Area Technology Center, Glasgow, KY

Bronze: Alexander R./Ethan D., Dover Area High School, Dover, PA

College

Gold: Chloe G./Zachery S., Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield, MO

Silver: Sam T./Caeden S., Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN

Bronze: Kenli S./Yan D., Northwest Kansas Technical College, Goodland, KS

Congratulations to all the winners and participants in the competition. We had an outstanding group of students who all have very bright futures in the industry. In the coming days we will be publishing more articles about the competition, so stay tuned.

Final awards ceremony in State Farm Arena 

Get in Touch 

We are honored to be recognized as a partner with SkillsUSA for another year. Reach out to us today for information on our collaboration with SkillsUSA, certification program offerings and the work we are doing to further our community of web professionals.

 

What Does it Look Like to Run a SkillsUSA State Web Design and Development Competition?

What Does it Look Like to Run a SkillsUSA State Web Design and Development Competition?

About a month ago we published an article highlighting our work with states to run their web design and development competitions in anticipation of the national competition in Atlanta, GA this June. Today, we are looking at how we helped facilitate the state competition that Illinois ran on April 25th. 

Since we started working directly with states in 2022, we have seen the level of competition improve significantly at both the state level and national level. Students are better prepared than ever to hit the ground running on day one and contribute to team success. Each year, more and more states sign up for the package we offer that includes the following:

  • Online web design exam similar to what the competitors might see at nationals 
  • Competition project with client assets and judging rubric 
  • Handouts for competitors with overview and links to resources
  • Online development environment “IDE” for each competitive team
  • Support for judges and competition chairs 

State SkillsUSA programs enjoy working with Web Professionals Global because we enable them to facilitate the competition rather than have the burden of creating the competition from scratch. Competitors and judges can participate either in person or remotely using our support tools. This enables states to utilize a wider range of judges, as many enjoy participating but cannot take the time from other obligations to join in person for a full day or more. In addition to helping run the Illinois competition, we helped the following states in the spring of 2024: Washington, South Carolina, Arizona, Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas, Nevada, Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon and Oklahoma. 

Running the Competition

Let’s look at how the IL competition ran to see how our package makes life easier for the teams, volunteers and judges that make each state competition happen. What happened in Illinois is similar to what happens in each state choosing the Web Professionals Global package for their competition.

First, the Illinois SkillsUSA team contacted Web Professionals Global to schedule the state competition and receive the competition kit. In the following days, the Illinois SkillsUSA team met with the Web Professionals Global team to get trained on what to expect on the day of the competition and how to ensure it went smoothly. 

On the day of the competition, teams showed up to the venue and received handouts outlining how the competition would run. This included an introductory video outlining the online development environments, also known as IDE (although most teams don’t need to review much as many are already with online coding environments *such as VSCode). The team members also logged into their IDE to make sure they were ready to go when the competition began. The IDE also contained the client assets along with a readme file explaining what each team needs to focus on if they want to win the competition (for example, make certain to preview your work to verify images are linked properly).

Students were then introduced to their client for the competition and began to analyze the client’s needs, target audience and images and logos they would be using. After this introduction, students began the competition in their teams and started building their websites. Teams are not allowed to use frameworks of any sort (or help from AI), and doing so results in disqualification. We want competitors to use their knowledge and skills to demonstrate their understanding of responsive design, web accessibility and much more. Relying on a framework can hamper this demonstration as frameworks can be relied upon as a crutch.

Upon completion of the competition, the judges used the online judging system provided by Web Professionals Global. This included a fair and easy-to-use rubric for judging the work of each team. Judges are able to review all teams’ work from a single view and can examine the end result or the code directly in the browser. This system ensures a transparent judging process that is consistent with the process that winning teams experience at the national competition. The winners of the Illinois competition were then submitted to the national competition and invited to participate in June. 

We are proud to be a part of this growing network of state competitions. Feel free to get in touch with us if you are interested in learning more and having your state take advantage of our solution next year. 

What is the Job Outlook for Careers in Web Design and Development?

What is the Job Outlook for Careers in Web Design and Development?

In tough economic times, some industries rise while others fall. Industries that make money or help others make money seem to always fare better than others. We have heard how the tech industry has been laying off large numbers of employees and contractors. You can argue much of this is COVID-19 fallout, with companies still fearing a potential recession.

The headcount at Twitter has been reduced by 70% in the past year.  Facebook laid off about 13% of employees in 2022, and will probably lay off another 12% in 2023. Other tech companies that have recently reduced workforce numbers include LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Microsoft, Yahoo, Zoom, Salesforce and more. 

However, these figures are just one side of the equation. Looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for May, we can see that U.S. tech occupations across the economy increased, and the unemployment rate decreased slightly from 2.1% to 2.0%. The current national average unemployment rate across all occupations is 3.7%. This means that even with big cuts in the large tech companies, we are seeing great resilience in the tech job market as a whole. Specifically, web design and development jobs are as strong as ever.

What Do the Numbers Say?

With all the economic turmoil in the tech sector, is entering a career in web design and development a good idea? Let’s look at the numbers. Overall, employment of web developers and digital designers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is a much faster rate than the average for all occupations. It is estimated that there will be 21,800 openings for web developers and digital designers annually over the next decade. A large portion of these openings will be to replace retiring designers and developers. 

So, why is web design and other tech careers growing even in the times of layoffs? Web design and development is key to how companies make money. Every company needs to get its product story to market, which is where the web designers and developers come in. Web design is key to how a company makes money. 

Think about it: who are the creative people managing the search engine optimization (SEO) that drives connections with the customers? Who creates the engaging content, graphics and sites that deliver the product story that gets people to buy? The answer is web developers and designers who help to execute marketing in a way that makes a company successful. 

What Can I Do With Web Design and Development Skills?

Although many people think of the tech world when it comes to web designers and developers, they are in high demand in virtually all industries including healthcare, energy, manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services, and retail. Put simply, any company or organization that needs to reach a target audience and maintain an online presence must have designers and developers. Those with web design and development skills can work in many different areas including programming, cybersecurity, database management, AI and robotics, graphic design, information security, user experience (UX) and others.

The good news is that a career in web design and development does not require a traditional four-year degree. You can earn certifications, like the ones we offer here at Web Professionals Global, that will demonstrate your skills and set you apart when it comes to proving yourself in the professional working world. If you have a certification (or multiple certifications) and a portfolio of projects you have created, hiring managers will be eager to talk with you because they know you would be starting with them ready to hit the ground running on day one. Plus, many designers and developers work on their own with a variety of different clients and act as their own bosses.

Why is it Important to Be Part of a Community of Professionals?

If you are considering becoming a web design or development professional, take advantage of becoming part of the largest community of web professionals in Web Professionals Global. Our mission is “Community, Education and Certifications,” and we help promote the advancement of all professionals in internet-based careers. We have special programming and certifications for web educators and teachers, and we work with teachers who want help or direction from a local or regional professional as well as independent and remote designers and developers who need advice running their own business. Web Professionals Global really is the one-stop shop for those in internet-based careers at any level. 

Start Your Career Today

Whether you are a teacher looking for web design and development certifications for your students, or you are an adult seeking to transition into a new career, we can help. Reach out to us today to learn how Web Professionals Global can assist you in advancing your career.

 

Celebrating Our Latest Web Design Certification Recipient

Celebrating Our Latest Web Design Certification Recipient

We love to take moments to brag. Today we are boasting about a web design program at Massac County High School in Metropolis, IL. Penny Allen is one of our newest teachers, and already she is knocking it out of the park. Penny has a number of students who will be receiving their industry credentials this year. The first course completer is Nick Proctor, who is a newly minted Certified Web Designer Apprentice (CWDSA-apprentice). He is the first high school student in the state of Illinois to do so with the new Learn and Earn program. We are proud to welcome Nick as one of the newest members of Web Professionals Global.

As if that isn’t already enough, Nick has already designed the website for a local bakery, Miranda’s Delight. The Web Design certification process helped teach him the skills to build the site and he is now taking the website to the next level by consulting with search engine optimization (SEO) experts to learn how to get more people to see his site while searching online. Students like Nick are “future-proofing” themselves with international industry-recognized certifications from Web Professionals Global that they can take with them into their future educational and professional endeavors. With the changing world of work, having certifications to set yourself apart is more important than ever before.

Nick is a great example of the Learn and Earn model, in which industry professionals have underwritten certification costs for students around the country. Instead of teaching to a test, the Web Professionals Global approach is to teach learners by enabling them to gain real-world experience and build a portfolio they can take with them. Nick is developing a professional portfolio and already having an impact in his local community.

One of the great aspects of web design is that it is a growing and stable career field, and many designers work on their own. According to the job site Zippia, there are over 21,000 freelance web designers in the U.S. The growth rate of web design between 2021 and 2031 is expected to be 23%, far above the average rate of 5% for other professions.

We caught up with Nick and Penny to hear about their experiences with the Web Design course and certification. 

Hear from Nick

What attracted you to wanting to be a web designer?

Well, really I think it was this class. I had never really considered web design until I started taking this class this year. It was always something that I was sort of interested in because I’m also really interested in graphic design and like video production. And I feel like those three kind of fall under the same category of creating things online. And this is probably the easiest form for me, because I’m not the most creative mind, I guess I’m a lot better at taking instruction and then putting it out on a piece of paper. And that’s kind of what this is, with graphic design. I really enjoy it and have fun with it. Although I don’t necessarily have an artistic mind, for some reason web design just comes naturally to me. 

How do you feel about the idea that you’re actually earning industry credentials right now in high school?

It’s honestly kind of surreal, because I never assumed that I could, I guess achieve something like this while I’m still in high school. It seems like something that is out of reach for a high schooler, and then to have that opportunity and be going through it right now is really strange but cool.

How exciting is it that this certification has helped you realize some of your goals?

I think it’s really exciting. I’ve been trying to do this for years but never had success until now. So being able to work with a client, build the website and get a site host and then have a complete site is really cool. Having the certification is great because I can carry it with me in my future.

What was it like hearing from industry professionals?

Oh yeah, in the lessons the professionals really clarified a lot of the things that I was really confused about. And I think hearing advice from people who do this in their daily lives is really great. Obviously teachers help a lot, but sometimes you want to hear from people who actually work in that field. And hearing from multiple people gave me different perspectives on different concepts as well.

We hear that you’ve already started your web design business. Is that true?

Yeah, I’ve actually just finished my first client. I’ve published that website, actually, and it’s up right now. I am struggling with the SEO right now. I’m not exactly sure how search engine optimization works at the moment. But I’ve been researching that a lot today and yesterday, and I’ve got it published, I just need to get it out there really, for people to search it.

What do your parents think about the fact that you’re getting a certification while in high school?

They’re actually really impressed with it, because I guess I hadn’t properly explained to them that I was getting certifications until a couple months ago. I just kind of walked in the house with the certification. And my mom was like, where did you get this from? And I was, Oh, it’s my web design class that I’ve been taking for a couple months now. And I think she’s just really proud of it because I guess she didn’t know that my school offered something like that either. As far as I know, we don’t have other certifications offered at the school.

Hear from Penny

What does it mean to you to get your students “future-ready” (certifications, more than just tech skills, etc.)?

This certification gives students a way to make money now and not have to wait until they graduate. Most college students have to work in lower wage jobs while going to college and work long hours during the evening or late nights. This certification will give them the freedom to work when they want, making much more money while going to school. 

What do you think of the Learn and Earn Model?

When I introduced the idea of the Learn and Earn model to my students, we talked about how industry professionals were going to underwrite the cost of the students receiving their certifications if they worked hard. I asked my students what they thought about the idea of doing the work and projects in lieu of an exam, and they agreed and said it was a better idea. With an exam they could just memorize a bunch of ‘stuff,” pass the test, and then immediately forget it all. However, this model means they actually have to learn it and use it! This encourages them to remember the material. We are all thankful to the partnership between Web Professionals Global and CTeLearning for this opportunity.

Become our Newest Member

Whether you are a teacher looking for industry certification opportunities for your students, a student in high school looking to advance your career prospects or a working professional seeking to develop new professional skills for a career change, we can help. Our international industry-recognized certifications prepare learners for in-demand 21st-century careers. Contact us today to chat about how we can help. 

From Certification to Job Offer: Catching Up With a Member

From Certification to Job Offer: Catching Up With a Member

We recently received a message from Amy F., one of our Web Professionals Global members who used her Certified Web Designer Associate (CWDSA) certification to land a job with the leading company in North America that supplies sustainable steel products to construction and green energy fields. Let’s hear from Amy:

“Hi all, I am doing well! I used my Web Design certification to get hired at Nucor. I’m learning BIM (building information modeling) and steel detailing. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to earn my Web Design certification. I know getting my certification helped me tremendously to get my job and thrive in my new role!” 

We are so proud to have helped Amy land a job that is utilizing her Certified Web Designer skills. Amy also earned our Remote Working Professional Certification, so she is ready to work either remotely or in a hybrid model. Amy is an example of how Web Professionals Global certifications prepare web professionals for exciting career pathways. Our membership includes students who are planning for their professional futures, working professionals who are developing new skills, and those who are making career changes. Again, congratulations to Amy. We look forward to following her career and welcoming others like her into our organization.

To learn more, below is the original Q&A blog article we did with Amy back when she first earned her Certified Web Designer Associate and Remote Working Professional certifications.

Today we are highlighting Amy F., one of our most recent Web Professionals Organization certification recipients. She earned her Certified Web Designer (CWDSA) and Certified Remote Working Professional (CRWP) certifications as well as an Ethics in the Workplace microcredential, all from the comfort of her own home. She can use these credentials and her robust portfolio of web design projects in future interviews with potential employers or as a base to launch her own business as a freelancer. 

MyCAA—also referred to as the My Career Advancement Account— is a program that provides tuition assistance for courses and certifications to military spouses. Amy was able to utilize the MyCAA program, and we are proud to be associated with this program that helps military spouses succeed. We have worked with countless military members and spouses over the years to help them earn certifications, and they are always among our most driven and hard-working students. As a military spouse, Amy is a great example of why we offer online certification programs. 

We caught up with Amy to ask about her experience taking courses and earning certifications as a working professional. 

What initially attracted you to web design?

Coding reminds me of math in a way! The beauty of math is that it’s either right or wrong. I love that! As I learned about coding, I realized it has operations of its own, a set of rules that need to be followed. I find that relaxing.

As a military spouse, what did you enjoy about being able to complete the courses and certifications fully online? 

I really appreciate that this class was fully online! I also liked the schedule flexibility as well as the ability to work on the certifications at my own pace and from wherever my husband and I were stationed at the time. We underwent a permanent change of station (PCS) move while I was in the middle of the courses, and I was able to continue working seamlessly. 

How has taking the Remote Working Professional course and earning the certification empowered you as a working professional?

I’m fortunate that this course also offered a Remote Working Professional (RWP) Certification. I’m excited about the future and the jobs I will be able to get now that I have a RWP certification. I plan on working remotely so that I don’t have to look for work each time my husband and I change locations.

How has the Remote Working Professional course and certification changed your view of global connectivity and people being able to learn and work remotely from anywhere?

I love the fact that I can work for a company based anywhere in the world. 

What skills did you learn in the Remote Working Professional course that you would share with a hiring manager in a job interview?

I learned a number of skills. To name just a few:

  • Communication: well-mannered verbal and non-verbal communication as well as sending post-meeting recaps to avoid miscommunication are important.
  • Organization: using a planner and setting a timeline.
  • Ethics: adhering to commitments, showing empathy, and being respectful, honest, transparent, and accountable. 
  • Initiative: doing the job right and on time. 
  • Preparation: being ready for technology failures. 
  • Cultural sensitivity: understanding different cultural norms by researching before engaging.
  • Cybersecurity: how to maintain safety and privacy. 

How has your experience earning these certifications improved your confidence in being able to work from anywhere as a military spouse?

My mom and dad always tell me they’re proud of me…but that’s their job. I took the courses and earned the certifications so I could be proud of myself.

What advice would you give to others who are considering earning certifications to future-proof their careers?

The same advice my mom gave me: “The time is going to go by anyway!” 

The internet, business, and marketing are all closely intertwined together—how do you think the courses and your new certifications will fit into your future plans as you go on to finish your business degree?

I will be graduating with my BBA this summer (woo-hoo)! Through my education I have earned experience, skills and qualifications that show I am capable of learning. After this summer, I plan to use my degree and certifications to land a nice job! 

Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the Web Professionals Organization, said, “Amy is another great example of a MyCAA success story. I am proud of our military leadership for thinking about the whole military experience—not just for the service person, but for their spouses and families as well. I think it is a brilliant idea that we, as a country, invest in educational opportunities for military spouses. Our servicemen and servicewomen and their families sacrifice to maintain the security of our nation. Helping spouses gain marketable web technology skills so that they can move as duty requires helps make the family unit stronger and more resilient. MyCAA is money well spent. Everyone who has been a part of this program who has gone through the education and received certifications from us has been exactly the type of person employers want to hire. Congratulations again to Amy. We thank Amy and her husband for all they are doing to contribute to the safety and security of our country.” If you would like to earn certifications and learn skills that can make you a more marketable professional, check out our certifications list and contact us today. We would love to chat with you.

 

Announcing our 2023 web competitions

Announcing our 2023 web competitions

We are proud to announce our new and streamlined for states to use for their SkillsUSA web design and development competitions in 2023. This model is based on over 20 years of running web design and development competitions (including 2 decades running the SkillsUSA national web design and development competition – which started as a demonstration competition in 2004). With the COVID-19 pandemic, we gained significant insights in running this competition 100% virtually. We have employed this knowledge as we enhanced our model for 2023. We are also proud to announce that we have been recognized as an official partner of SkillsUSA for 2023.

Alignment

We have been working with SkillsUSA for over two decades because of how much we are aligned in our vision of workplace needs. The SkillsUSA framework focuses on technical skills in addition to personal skills and workplace skills. This is the exact mix we strive for in our competitions. It is important to know the technical aspects of your trade, and it is equally important to work well in a team environment and follow ethical standards. This is also why we ask readers of our articles to sign our code of ethics (for members and non-members).

Our Internet based competition

This refreshed competition model is the most accessible it has ever been, enabling students to focus on creating innovative projects and equipping facilitators to run the competition seamlessly. Students only need a PC, Mac or Chromebook and an internet connection to participate in the competitions—giving those in rural, urban and suburban areas equal access.

Competitions can be run entirely online, which levels the playing field for students across the country and can give you flexibility should you need n the age of COVID-19 . This new competition model is future-proof and will be able to be implemented for years to come, no matter what the pandemic looks like in coming years.

Our (Web Professionals Global) competition support is free to state SkillsUSA competitions, and the new model makes the judging process more standardized and easier than ever before. States can run competitions whenever they want in 2023 in anticipation of our national competition in June in Atlanta. Please give us time to get your state setup with our online IDE (Integrated Development Environment), online exam, and online competition materials. Obviously each state will need Internet access during the day of competition for all competitors.

Not only does our new approach make it easier for any state to run their own web design and development competition, but it also ensures that every state is conducting their own competition that models the expectations their competitors will need to meet at our national competition. This gives every state — from small to large — the same turnkey resources to ensure a successful competition. This model is intended to only be used for the current cycle of SkillsUSA competitions.

Highlights

This new model includes:

  • Competition project with all graphic and textual assets that are similar in scope and style to what the competitors will experience at the national competition.
  • Easy-to-apply rubrics help both new and veteran judges quickly evaluate team projects for creativity, design and best practices.
  • Web-based coding editor and folder system allows judges to easily review any state competitor submissions. Judges can review work with just an internet connection, allowing states to have judges join virtually from anywhere.
  • Web-based editor and site storage means your events committee does not have to worry that any competitor’s work can be lost or misplaced—all of it remains safe on the web.
  • Judging preparation materials and training videos are included to make it easy for new judges to quickly get up to speed and be able to deliver consistent judging.
  • Optional competition kickoff and welcome video delivers a consistent message to all competitors as well as some helpful hints about the competition project.
  • Technical back up and support provided by our Web Professionals Global  Organization.
  • Fast and easy sign-up for state SkillsUSA leadership teams to reserve their free competition kit and web-based tools suite.

Contact us now

Because of these new systems Web Professionals Global is implementing for this year, any state can run a turnkey competition and give students an opportunity to build meaningful projects in an engaging online environment. All of this is provided free of charge to any state wishing to have an organized and impactful state-level web design and development competition to prepare their students well for the national competition.

Let us know as soon as you can. As you can imagine, there will be many states taking advantage of all this support, and we need time to be able to deliver all that you need.