Select Page
2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Contest Recap

2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Contest Recap

Our organization was proud to help facilitate the web design contest at the national SkillsUSA competition in Atlanta, GA from June 19-24, 2022.  Our team arrived on Sunday, set up Monday and Tuesday, and ran the high school competition on Wednesday and post-secondary competition on Thursday. We also organized a Thursday evening debrief and meet and greet with industry professionals and participated in the overall awards ceremony on Friday evening. We would like to thank all our team members for using their vacation time to support SkillsUSA and the web design contest. 

This year, the web design contest teams were greeted with messages in Spanish, German, Chinese, French and Arabic from our international members. One of the benefits of our organization is that our community is made up of members from all over the world, and our international experience and membership helps to craft the real-world challenges that our competition delivers. We are about helping to create and support whole professionals ready to work both domestically and internationally—especially in this age of remote work. 

The Contest

The competition was held at the Georgia World Congress Center, and the competitors were teams of two from different states in the country. The teams were tasked with creating websites for clients, all while completing specific tasks in the process to demonstrate web design proficiency. 

We were able to utilize the online technologies we developed in 2020 and 2021 when we ran the contest fully online due to COVID-19. This design allowed all competitors on-site to participate—whether they had a laptop, PC, Mac, or Chromebook. All tools were available online and were the same for each of the teams. This meant the teams could focus on listening to and meeting the client’s needs, fundamentals and creativity to win the day. Our new system allowed us to judge all the competitors’ work online, which improved the efficiency of judging the final products that the teams designed. 

It should be pointed out that this competition is far more than just a competitive challenge. We at Web Professionals Global, which started the competition in 2004, brought our mission of “Community, Education and Certification” to the competition. Our community of professionals developed the competition challenges and judged the work of each team. We also provided training before the event to help give the competitors the chance to learn about trends in the industry and more about what it takes to be competitive in this in-demand and high-paying career pathway.  

Just like in the real-world, each team met with the client whom they were building the website for. This provided the competitors with a real-world environment to get a taste of what it is like to work as a web design professional. After the event, we held a Q&A event with the web design professionals who had been part of the judging team. This was an opportunity for the teams to hear from professional web designers about personal experiences, how to get started, the ups and downs of the career pathway, day-to-day experiences on the job, and how to set themselves apart and on the path of success. 

To learn more about Web Professionals Global or the SkillsUSA competition, contact us today. We would love to chat with you.

Jonathan, the client, holding a meeting with all of the competitors Wednesday morning at the beginning of the event. 

David Jackson and Bryce Hickson, web designers and lead judges, speaking to the high school and post-secondary competitors in the competition debrief on Thursday.

The competitors chatting with David and Bryce after the debrief.

Mark DuBois, Executive Director, Web Professionals Global, handing out awards at the ceremony on Friday night.

 

 

Q&A With Web Professionals Certification Recipient in Albania

Q&A With Web Professionals Certification Recipient in Albania

The Web Professionals Organization would like to congratulate Edra T., the first person in Albania to earn a certification from Web Professionals. Edra earned her Web Developer Associate certification to further her career in web development. Edra’s success shows that you can take advantage of remote learning and working to develop your career, no matter where in the world you live.

We talked to Edra to find out more about how she earned her certification, the importance of certifications in her home country, and the world of global remote work.  

What did you like about your experience earning the certification?

The thought of having my skills and knowledge certified is really appealing, but the part that I enjoyed the most was the entire process of studying for the exam. Despite having some prior knowledge, I consulted the materials mentioned in the WebProfessionals self-study section and read the referenced books. That helped me understand that no matter how well I thought I understood things worked, there was always something I didn’t know and something new to learn.

What attracted you to web development?

Growing up in a post-communist country came with its own set of constraints and obstacles. I initially chose computer science as my major because I’ve always wanted to develop systems and programs that make life easier. I also wanted to fight the perception that the field is masculine, as it has long been a male-dominated field. I eventually became an intern at the company where I now work as a .NET developer. My company assisted and contributed to the certification of my skills, and I’m grateful and pleased to see their involvement in employee professional development. 

How are industry certifications viewed in Albania? Do employers value them?

Although the Albanian technology market has yet to expand, the demand for web developers and software engineers has been steadily increasing and will most likely continue to do so in the coming years. While certification isn’t required throughout the hiring process, it is seen as a major plus by most employers. The number of employers interested in hiring certified workers is rapidly increasing.

How has earning the certification changed your view of global connectivity and people being able to learn and work remotely from any country?

Remote work is the biggest trend in development right now. It is not only adaptable but also incredibly efficient for employees. The idea of being in Albania and taking a certification exam that is acknowledged in many prominent institutions and other countries was very appealing to me. Earning the certification made me realize that web development allows people like me to work remotely freely and efficiently, which is especially important now that the globe is gripped by a global pandemic and traveling to work or study is more difficult.

How has earning the certification empowered you to take the next step in your career?

Most significantly, the certification helped me gain confidence in my skills. This was something I lacked as a young web developer and struggled with, as other young developers do. I believe that confidence is a big bonus when looking for a job, and being able to confirm your skills and knowledge helps a lot in gaining that confidence.

How was your experience working with the Web Professionals Organization?

I’ve had a great time working with the Web Professionals Organization so far. Everyone on the Web Professionals team has been very helpful and attentive. They have expressed interest in my journey frequently and worked hard to make the experience easy and enjoyable. I’m very thankful and would like to keep working with the Web Professionals Organization in the future.

Be the Next Certification Recipient

The Web Professionals Organization is proud of Edra and all of its certification recipients around the globe. If you are interested in furthering your career in web technologies, contact us today. No matter what country you live in, we would love to work with you.

 

Is it Ever Too Late to Become a Web Developer or Designer?

Is it Ever Too Late to Become a Web Developer or Designer?

People often think that web development and web design is an industry that is only for young people. Many start-ups and tech companies are run by people in their 20s and 30s, so this is a common belief. However, there will always be a need for web developers and designers by companies across a wide variety of industries. If you have the skills and determination, companies will give you a serious look—no matter how old you are. Companies often don’t care about what you have done in the past, so you can learn web development and show companies that you can help them meet their goals—even if you are switching from a completely different industry. If you are in your 40s, 50s or older and thinking about taking the plunge in learning web development or design, here are some tips to keep in mind during the process:

Identify Your “Why”

If you can identify why you want to learn web development or design skills, and have a goal in mind, you will be much more likely to be successful. Perhaps you are a lifelong learner and want to dive into a completely new field. Maybe you feel like learning web development or design will help you perform your current job better. Maybe your company has open positions for web developers and designers, and you feel like you would be a good fit if you had the skills. Or maybe you would like to begin freelancing for companies for side income and have realized that these are an in-demand skill companies are always seeking.

Get Started

A web developer works on the structure of websites and is responsible for coding more of the back-end (server side) of the site. A web designer works more on the front-end (client side), creating the look and feel of the site and taking the client’s product or service to the web. Web developers are engineers and mechanics, while web designers are architects and storytellers. 

Find a program that teaches the programming languages you are interested in. If you are new to coding, then starting with the front-end of web development like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript is the perfect way to ease yourself into the industry. Both web developers and designers need to know these languages first and foremost. This makes front-end development the best place to start, as you can see on the screen in real-time how your coding is performing. After mastering the front-end, you can explore the back-end of development too. 

There are a ton of resources available online for those interested in learning web development skills. Some online coding classes allow you to learn at your own pace, while others allow you to learn with an instructor alongside other students in a “bootcamp” model. If you learn better in an in-person setting, your local community college may offer courses either as part of a credit degree program or through their continuing education departments. 

Some programs of study may encourage you to quit your current job to be able to attend the program. If this is the case, you may elect to take an online program that will give you more flexibility to learn at your own pace, anytime and anywhere.

When selecting a program, make sure you will earn an industry-recognized certification at the end of it. A simple course certificate doesn’t hold much weight, but a certification that is backed by industry professionals will be much more credible to companies seeking to hire developers and designers. And be careful of expensive bootcamps—some are worth it, while others are not. Put simply, you need to want to put in the work to become a developer or designer. If you just go through the motions of learning, you will not come across as skilled and confident when interviewing with companies. Accomplished developers and designers have a passion for coding and continuing to learn and hone their skills over their careers.

Find Help When Needed 

If you enroll in a web development or design bootcamp or local community college class, you will have built-in support with a teacher and your colleagues. However, learning web development individually at your own pace can be difficult. Try to find people around you or online whom you can bounce questions off of and seek guidance from. This could be a family member or friend who is a software engineer, or it could be someone else who has completed the course you are enrolled in. Having a mentor can make the learning process much easier and spur you to continue on for the times when you are feeling defeated. 

Ways to Stand Out

When you start as a web designer (and later think about web development), it is important to remember there are many who are also aspiring. How do you stand out in the field? One approach is to learn more about web accessibility (making web pages accessible for those who use assistive devices). Another area you could consider is learning how to make web pages more easily found and indexed by search engines. Perhaps you want to check out schools and curricula which focus on these topics?

You may also be asked to show a portfolio of your work. Obviously, you will have examples from the classes you take. However, you may also want to offer your help to not-for-profit organizations. While you may not be paid for your help, you will gain significant experience in working with actual clients. Also, you can always ask the organization for a letter of reference (once you have successfully completed your project). We encourage you to think about ways to differentiate yourself from others. What can you do better than most? Leverage that as you learn web design and development.

Have Fun

The world of web development and design is an exciting one. Developers and designers work to make the apps, websites and games we rely on every day function as they should. They often get to work on cool projects that are at the cutting-edge of how we work and play on the internet, and you can be a part of that. 

There’s a reason web developers and designers get paid well—it isn’t always easy to learn and do well. However, with a willingness to learn, determination and support system, it’s never too late to dive in. Whatever path you take, developer or designer, our Web Professionals organization looks forward to welcoming you to our community. 

 

The Biggest Web Development Trends of 2021

The Biggest Web Development Trends of 2021

Three months into 2021, there are several web development trends that have clearly emerged. The digital market is competitive, and it’s important for developers to stay abreast of the latest trends impacting the industry. Let’s take a look at the trends that all web professionals should be aware of in order to stay ahead of the competition through the rest of 2021. 

Artificial Intelligence and Bots

AI and bots continue to be used more than ever before by developers. Their ability to collect data, learn about users, and solve issues with human intervention make them highly attractive for companies seeking to streamline operations and customer service. Today’s consumers expect 24/7 service, and AI can deliver just that for companies seeking to maintain their engagement with customers while saving money. AI and bots can be incorporated into sites and mobile apps for a wide variety of devices. Staying on top of the latest in AI and bots can give your company a leg up on the competition. 

Voice Search Optimization 

Today, many internet users access web services without typing or even looking at the screen of a device. People can control garage doors, lights, security systems, thermostats and much more just by talking to a smart device in their home. It’s clear that voice recognition will continue to be an important aspect of web development for years to come, and it is estimated that as many as 50% of households with internet access will utilize a voice assistant by the end of 2022. Companies are in need of developers who can create web services that are accessed by voice command. 

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

The primary idea behind this technology is to speed up page performance to keep the user engaged with the mobile site and reduce the chance that the user leaves before the site page loads. Essentially, AMPs are optimized pages with a simplified and scaled-down design. This allows the pages to load quickly while only displaying basic features. They have easy-to-read content and are formatted to work seamlessly with smartphones and tablets. AMPs level the playing field for users, as even people with slower internet speeds can access and enjoy AMP features. 

Automation Testing

This helps developers test their products more effectively than the traditional manual testing. Put simply, web development is judged by how fast and efficient it is for the use. Automation testing promotes better testing coverage, makes the development process cheaper and reduces the time of the test cycle, allowing smaller web development companies to compete with those with more resources. This form of testing also creates a better user experience and allows developers to more quickly and efficiently identify issues.

App Accessibility 

This trend is about making web applications more accessible for consumers, organizations and businesses. Single-Page Applications (SPAs) are on the rise, as they don’t require users to reload the page while using it. An example of a platform that uses SPAs is Facebook. As users scroll down, new content appears automatically. Another growing trend is the use of Progressive Web Applications (PWAs), which offer stripped-down versions of native applications with the benefit of not requiring the user to download a new app. PWAs are cost-effective and can deliver users an easy experience.

These are a handful of the trends that will drive web development through the rest of 2021 and beyond. As a web professional, stay on top of what is going on in the industry so you can stay a step ahead of the competition. 

WordPress Vulnerability Updates

WordPress Vulnerability Updates

March 2021 has seen 10 vulnerable plugins and themes for WordPress sites, which has affected about 400,000 total websites. Running WordPress sites requires keeping up to date on the latest security vulnerabilities and fixes like the ones below. 

Although these vulnerabilities have received a virtual patch to the WebARX firewall, to be safe you should update or delete the plugins immediately from your site.

WooCommerce Upload Files Premium

Enables users to upload files, preview images, add additional fees, and more. Vulnerability affects over 5,000 sites.  

Solution: Update WordPress WooCommerce Upload Files premium plugin to the latest available version.

User Profile Picture

Sets/removes profile images for users using the standard WordPress media upload tool. Vulnerability affects 60,000 sites.

Solution: Update WordPress User Profile Picture plugin to the latest available version.

Forminator

Form builder for WordPress. Vulnerability affects 100,000 sites.  

Solution: Update the WordPress Forminator plugin to the latest available version.

Dokan

WordPress marketplace plugin. Vulnerability affects 60,000 sites. 

Solution: Update WordPress Dokan plugin to the latest available version.

Defender Security 

Security plugin for WordPress. Vulnerability affects 50,000 sites.

Solution: Update WordPress Defender Security plugin to the latest available version.

Abandoned Cart Lite for WooCommerce

Helps recover carts from WooCommerce shop. Vulnerability affects 30,000 sites. 

Solution: Update WordPress Abandoned Cart Lite for WooCommerce plugin to the latest available version.

Style Kits for Elementor

Adds UI controls to Theme Styles for layout systems in Elementor. Vulnerability affects 10,000 sites.

Solution: Update WordPress Style Kits plugin to the latest available version.

WP ERP

WordPress business management solution. Vulnerability affects 10,000 sites.

Solution: Update WordPress WP ERP plugin to the latest available version.

WP Project Manager

WordPress project management tool. Vulnerability affects 10,000 sites.

Solution: Update WordPress WP Project Manager plugin to the latest available version.

WP Travel 

Travel engine for making customized travel websites on WordPress. Vulnerability affects 6,000 sites.

Solution: Update WordPress WP Travel plugin to the latest available version.

We at the Web Professionals Organization are not endorsing WebARX, but they have put together a great list from their research and work in server security, protection and monitoring. For more information on these vulnerabilities on the WebARX site, click here.

 

Understanding Brutalist Web Design and Development

Understanding Brutalist Web Design and Development

Steve Waddell
Director of Education and Training

You may have heard the term “brutalism” before—most likely referring to the architectural style that emerged in the 1950’s following the end of World War II. A recent trend has emerged in web design and development that takes inspiration from this architectural style, pictured on the right, that features simple geometric designs. Let’s take a look at what brutalism means in web design and development. 

Brutalist Building

Think about the websites you enjoy visiting. They may feature bright colors, pictures and videos that draw you in and keep you engaged. Although fancy websites are popular, the brutalist style of no-frills websites has made a comeback. Brutalist websites are a throwback to the early days of the internet when websites were very basic in style. With a raw and bare-bones look, brutalist websites are functional and easy to navigate. You most likely have already visited brutalist websites and just didn’t know it. For example, let’s look at the Craigslist homepage:

Craigslist Image Design

Notice how there are no pictures, videos, or distracting colors. Everything is laid out very simply, making it easy to get the information you are looking for and navigate to the page you want. 

Wiki Brutalist Style

The Wikipedia homepage features another brutalist design:

 

Notice the similarities between the two. Both websites feature black text and blue hyperlinks on top of white backgrounds. They are very easy to navigate—you aren’t likely to get lost and you won’t be distracted by any pictures or videos. Brutalist websites aren’t the most technically challenging websites to design, but they deliver a very effective user experience. Other popular and successful brutalist websites include the news site Bloomberg and nonprofit network Freecycle

 

With the rise of WordPress, the brutalist trend may have hitched a ride—just think about how stark the early standard templates are for WordPress sites. The popularity of blogs also may have contributed to some of the brutalist appeal. See an example of a WordPress site below. 

Wordpress Style

The next time you are designing or developing a website, consider paying respect to the early days of the internet by creating a brutalist-themed website. It’s a good way to stand out from the “same-ness” of the loud and complicated websites that we see today. It can grab the attention of your visitors and make as much of a statement as you would with a more elegant website design, making sure they remember your website as different from others.  

 

Read more about brutalist web design and development