2020 has been an unprecedented year for businesses in all industries. Societal and economic shifts have made web professionals like you more important than ever, so it’s critical to remain at the forefront of industry trends that will shape the rest of the year leading into 2021. As a web professional, connecting with your target audience while continuing to meet the needs of your customers or clients requires spending time strategizing how your web presence will propel your business forward. Let’s take a look at 5 of the trends that are driving web design and development.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AR and VR have been growing for some time, and that will certainly continue in the coming years. People today consume web content on a variety of devices, including tablets and mobile phones. Utilizing AR and VR to show customers how products work, no matter what device they are on, puts businesses a step ahead of the competition. AR and VR tools include videos and images, with many of them available in 360 degree viewing experiences. Some of the most influential tech companies like Google and Facebook have invested in AR and VR as a technology that will drive business in the future.
Maximizing the possibilities of cybersecurity and AI will continue to be important for business heading into 2021 and beyond. Web professionals need to be aware of the latest cybersecurity tools and how to best protect customer information from hacks and data breaches. AI plays a big role in cybersecurity, with AI networks and machine learning helping web and security professionals learn about the latest tools hackers are using to disrupt websites. Stay up-to-date with the latest news on cybersecurity to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep the data of your customers safe and give them peace of mind in doing business with you.
Companies are finding that highly sophisticated chatbots can replace humans in meeting various customer service needs. Customers love chatbots for their ease of use and instant answers to questions—eliminating the need to send an email or call you and wait for an answer. In addition to all of the technical aspects that web professionals must worry about, it’s important to not forget about keeping customer service on point so that you retain existing customers while attracting new ones. Chatbots are exploding in popularity so rapidly that Gartner estimates that by the end of 2020 85% of customer interactions will be held without a human customer support representative. Additionally, chatbots are projected to be the biggest consumer application for AI in the next 5 years.
Digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have had a huge impact on the web in a relatively short period of time. Driven by AI, which we have touched on, these are more than just tools. They are an example of machine learning, as they can learn about user habits and utilize it to improve performance. Voice search is a real example of how AI impacts our daily lives—including checking the weather, playing music, ordering groceries and staying in touch with friends and family. In fact, Alexa can perform over 70,000 skills. With people increasingly using voice search rather than typing keywords into Google, it is important for web professionals to understand how voice search will impact consumer behavior.
Let’s face it: it can be difficult getting your business to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to maximize online exposure, and do so at minimal cost, is to focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Doing so will help improve your content in search results and put you above the competition. The higher up you are for keywords related to your business, the more traffic you will generate to your site. SEO can be achieved through optimizing your web pages and creating content frequently, such as blog posts about news in your industry.
As you seek to develop and maintain user-friendly websites, keep these trends in mind. Consider how they are impacting and will continue to impact customer behavior. Staying informed about these trends will improve your company’s web presence and keep you a step ahead of the competition.
By Steve Waddell, Director of Education and Training
Traditional retail was already taking a big hit before the days of COVID-19. But the worldwide pandemic has accelerated the shifts we began to see in retail over the last 5 years and accelerated the closing of many retail operations, both big and small. Essentially, the hope for most businesses is to become COVID-proof, meaning serving customers as easily online as in the store. For retailers this means finding a way to take that great customer experience of the store and move it to a strong web presence.
This means an opportunity is opening up—a new and growing demand for web designers, developers, content writers, and retail experts to help small and large operations convert what they used to do on the sales floor to making the magic happen online. Hard-working and talented retail staff who once walked the sales floors are well suited to take their retail knowledge and sales skills into the cloud to help retailers build success on the web.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, web design and web development were already high-growth career paths. Now with companies scrambling to reach customers on the web, every business needs to have their web capacity to reach existing and new customers. To do this, retailers must have skilled web designers who can help bring the retail sales narrative to the business’s website. Selling on the web is a little different than selling in person, but retail skills still translate very well to web design and development.
Web design and development is a fast-growing STEM career path that offers flexible and fun careers to those who don’t want to report to an office every day. The median salary for the industry is $73K and ranges up to $150K. Let’s take a look at how the retail experience aligns with web design and development.
What Do Web Designers and Developers Do?
Broadly speaking, web designers and developers work with clients to market products and services online. Designers utilize text, images and video to create websites and reach intended audiences. Developers write the code that provides the technical foundation of these websites.
Most web designers and developers keep a foot in both the design and coding worlds. The beauty of this career is that you can weave elegant design with rock-solid code to create a compelling website for your client and site visitors. By merging visual and technical solutions, web designers and developers help their clients succeed and meet business goals.
How Does Retail Experience Relate to a Career in Web Design and Development?
Retail workers looking to reskill have excellent qualities including working under pressure, talking through problems, taking on new responsibilities, managing time, taking initiative, and serving each and every customer with empathy and respect. Retail helps you learn how to focus on what you can control and not worry so much about the “overly concerned customer in aisle 3.”
In retail, you help people figure out what service or product is right for them. Guess what? Much of that is at the core of what a web designer does—except instead of standing in a store, designers and developers figure out how to reach people through a web presence. Web designers and developers take client ideas, products and services, helping to sell them to targeted audiences.
Benefits of a Career in Web Design and Development
According to research, 30 percent of the U.S. working population currently freelances in some capacity, and that will grow to 51 percent by 2020. Many web designers and developers freelance and/or work remotely, and that has only increased in the age of COVID-19. Surveys of freelancers show that they are happier and earn more than in previous office jobs. This isn’t a surprise: when the most recent recession hit, companies began to seek ways to cut costs. They began to hire contractors who could work from home, saving on rent, insurance, and utility costs, and allowing freelancers more flexibility over when and where they could work. Web design and development is one of the growing STEM careers that offers unparalleled flexibility and opportunities to work on impactful projects.
How Can I Get Started?
As you learn, you will build a career-ready portfolio of your work including real-world projects, a digital resume and a portfolio website that will showcase your story to potential employers. This is important to demonstrate your technical aptitude and ability to successfully develop and guide a project from beginning to end. You can also achieve in-demand industry certifications to prove to companies you have a comprehensive skill set and are ready to produce for them on day one.
WebProfessionals.org offers an engaging web design and development online course featuring over 200 engaging videos that will tutor you step by step, perfect for visual learners. The course also prepares you to sit for an International Industry-Recognized Certification (IIRC). Try to avoid courses that only offer a course completion certificate. Anybody can issue you a piece of paper saying you completed their course, and the industry knows this. An IIRC will help open more doors for you faster and get you career going quicker. So, take the time as you look around for training to be sure you know what you are getting for your educational investment.
Reskilling in the Age of COVID-19
Although it can be a scary time, don’t panic. There are numerous opportunities out there for transitioning from retail to a new career. Why not web design and development? The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) offers services for laid-off workers, dislocated workers and those transitioning to new jobs. This helps provide job training to people looking for a new challenge and growing career path.
The Web Professionals Organization has reskillingcourses available for workforce programs, vocational schools, universities, job centers and community colleges. Not sure where to go? Contact the Web Professionals Organization for more information today.
Gold Medal Winners of the 2020 Web Design and Development Competition Announced
WebProfessionals.org is pleased to announce the Gold medal winners of the 2020 “Virtual” Web Design Challenge
This year’s innovative and totally online event invited and challenged
Challengers documented their progress as they demonstrated their skills in Web Programming (HTML, XHTML and CSS), Web graphics, Web site design, Web accessibility and usability, Web site management, project management, Web multimedia and equally important, professionalism.
A panel of experts from the Web professional community based their winning selection on the following criteria developed by Webprofessionals.org:
• Design and Layout: Navigation • Programming: Compatibility • Programming Code Structure & Design • Scaffolding of Process – Diagram/Flowchart • Video production and presentation • Professionalism
Winners at the Secondary/High School: Gold:
• Kevin Downing, Whitinsville, MA • Daniel Cardone, Blackstone, MA
Winners at the College/Postsecondary Gold:
• Matthew Connors, Massachusetts • Joey Higuera, Massachusetts
“On behalf of the WebProfessionals.org organization, the Technical Committee and challenge judges, I want to say thanks to all the teams for putting forward all the great efforts. So much in the world has changed since last year in Louisville. But one thing has not changed, and it is the quality of our Web Design challenge participants. In chatting with the judges, each team excelled in different areas, and they enjoyed seeing all the creativity in all the submissions. If these winners stay on this trajectory, keep practicing, growing their career portfolios, and adding international industry-recognized certifications to their resumes, I have no doubt they will get snatched up by industry when they start looking for that first career move. I am proud to say this is my seventh year as part of the WebProfessionals.org Web Design challenge support team, and even though I didn’t get to see everybody in Louisville, I had a terrific time.”Lead Judge – Steve Waddell Founder CTeLearning.com
The Web Design Contest provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. It emphasizes total quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education and pride in the dignity of work. For additional information visit www.webdesigncontest.org
SkillsUSA is a United States career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. For additional information visit www.skillsusa.org
First in Nation to Earn STEM/STEAM Stackable International Industry-Recognized Certificationsdeveloped by Webprofessionals.org
Haven, Kansas May 6, 2019 – Three Haven High School Students are the first in the U.S. to earn Associate Level Web Developer WebProfessionals.org stacking certifications from two separate courses at Haven High School. Additionally, nine more students earned Web and Mobile Application Industry Certifications also offered by WebProfessionals.org and three others earned Web Designer certification.
Graduating with WebProfessionals.org Certifications
All of these students will be graduating high school with industry-recognized WebProfessionals.org certifications, which is quite an accomplishment.
Haven High School is in its fifth year teaching these courses and providing students the opportunity to earn credentials. This continued success is led by the Haven Business Education Department, and the business educator responsible for this program is Jessica Wilson.
Steve Waddell—founder of CTeLearning and WebProfessionals.org curriculum development partner—was asked to visit Haven HS and present a banner on behalf of the WebProfessionals.org to recognize it as the most credentialed school in KS. Haven students have earned more industry-recognized certifications than any other school in Kansas.
Haven High School currently runs both the Web and Mobile Application Development and Web Development for Business courses by CTeLearning.com. These courses are stackable and enable students to earn a Webprofessionals.org International Industry-Recognized Certification (IIRC). These exams are proctored at the school site to maintain exam integrity and ensure each participant has met all of the minimal requirements to sit for the credential.
Power of Rural STEM and Business Education
Steve Waddell said, “Never underestimate education in the rural parts of the U.S. or the dedicated educators, administrators and students who thrive there. These students here today are gaining world-class credentials from an international professionals association like the WebProfessioanals.org. This is not just another test delivered by a testing company. These students have received an international industry-recognized certification. This shows that high tech, high-demand career education can happen and should happen everywhere. We love being a part of rural STEAM/STEM and business education.”
“Wherever a student calls home should not restrict their opportunity to discover their passions and talents for these high-demand STEM careers. Only a few short years ago the wisdom of the day was that to work in these types of technology careers you had to leave the rural community and move to suburban or urban spaces. Times have changed, those days are gone, and Jessica’s students are proving that.”
The Path to WebProfessionals.org Certifications
In addition to the Web Development for Business and the Web and Mobile Application Development courses, Ms. Wilson teaches other career and technical education courses, including Business Entrepreneurship and Coding and 3D Video Game Design. This recent success is demonstrating that Haven High is a regional STEM/STEAM/CTE powerhouse.
In these courses, students learned web and app coding, created sites and apps, and built a future-ready portfolio with real-world projects. As of today, they get to add industry credentials they can show college recruiters or future employers.
“As educators we thrive in reaching for what seems to be impossible, especially when it comes to doing what is best for our students and helping them be successful. It is always appreciated to have an administration that helps to support you in these kinds of endeavors. I am very lucky here at Haven and I just want to extend a thank you to Principal Travis Moore, Curriculum Director Marty Niensteadt and our Superintendent Clark Wedel for their ongoing support of this fantastic opportunity. It is with their help and the determination and hard work of my students that we are able to continue the tradition of excellence here at Haven High. As much as I appreciate the recognition, as their teacher none of this would be possible without the work my students put into their learning and their support of one another,” said Jessica Wilson.
The certification earned by the Haven HS students is delivered by WebProfessionals.org, Executive Director Mark DuBois and educational team were key in creating and maintaining the international industry-recognized certifications.
“Many students take the course only for high school credit. Those who want to gain the coveted WebProfessionals.org industry-recognized credential must receive a minimum course grade, meet all project performance requirements, exhibit professionalism in all class activities and receive a recommendation to sit for the exam by their course instructor. Ms. Wilson’s students took the proctored exam at Haven High” said Steve Waddell.
“We welcome the Haven students to the exciting world of web technologies. We are very proud of Ms. Wilson’s students. Haven has an incredibly strong program and we continue to see students succeeding at Haven and earning industry certifications year after year. All of us here at WebProfessionals.org love seeing students take these first important steps towards high-demand STEAM/STEM careers in web and app development,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the WebPrfessionals.org
Congratulations for Earning Stackable WebProfessionals.org Certifications
The three Haven High School Students who are the first in the nation to earn their Associate Level Web Developer by stacking certifications from two separate CTeLearning.com courses at Haven HS are:
Kelton DeBord: Junior
Caleb Fredrickson : Senior
Ronnie Voss: Sophomore
The nine newly minted Mobile Application Industry Certification recipients are:
Joshua Clodfeldter: Freshman
Ethan Earls: Freshman
Dakota Fox: Sophomore
Z’Hakari Huffman: Sophomore
Maverick Lane: Freshman
Cole Long: Freshman
Nathan Schmidt: Sophomore
Holden Schneider: Freshman
Cole Zongker: Freshman
Congratulations to Jessica Wilson’s 2019 class of industry-recognized certification recipients. We can’t wait to see the class of 2020.
Today I read about another major auto manufacturer laying off employees. My heart goes out to the employees who have spent years working for companies that shut down on just a moment’s notice. At one time, working in auto production was a reliable means to provide for a family. It was a sustainable career with the opportunity to be a part of something big—the biggest industry in our country.
This article is for all the American manufacturers and production workers who are wondering: what is next?
They say that when one door closes, another opens. That may be little comfort, but I want you to know there is a door that is wide open to you. Keep reading and please give me the time to let me make my point.
With traditional auto manufacturers undergoing serious restructuring in recent years, a long career at Ford or General Motors isn’t guaranteed as it was in years past. A worker in the past might have stayed with an auto employer for his or her entire career—but with today’s changing economy, many of those employees have been laid off and forced to pursue a career change outside of the industry. The world of work keeps changing, and it is hard to know which way to go.
The Good News
The good news is that auto production workers have built-in skills that translate well to other industries. The years of training and hard work to build some of the most high-tech and complex machines on the planet has given you wisdom, experience and skills that companies look for.
If you’re thinking that your experience in the auto industry doesn’t translate well to web design and development, read on.
How Does Production Experience Relate to a Career in Web Design and Development?
Someone with auto production experience is a natural fit to dive into the world of web design and development. An auto production worker must have excellent attention to detail and focus on completing tasks correctly, skills that are required of designers and developers. A production worker must also be able to think critically and troubleshoot problems that arise on projects. Guess what web designers and developers do every day? Web developers solve problems and build web sites that are far less complex than any car I have ever driven.
One of the biggest complaints I hear all the time from friends who own tech companies is the issue of work ethic and dependability. Being dependable, a good team player and able to communicate well is critical to project success in both industries. Also, demonstrating a willingness and ability to be cross-trained in different job tasks at your company is an enormous asset in the web industry. And perhaps most importantly, both auto production and web design and development require a technical aptitude. Technology isn’t going anywhere, and as new technologies replace old ones, employees who learn the emerging ones will be extremely valuable to their companies and the web industry.
As you think about “re-careering,” don’t discount the other skills you bring to the table, including pride in work, product knowledge, integrity, dependability, initiative, persistence, leadership, adaptability, empathy and self-discipline. These are the attitudes that companies look for when hiring designers and developers to help them succeed on the web. Put simply, a career transition from manufacturing and production to web design and development is a natural one.
A Career in Web Design and Development
Broadly speaking, web designers and developers work with clients to market products and services online. Designers utilize text, images and video to create websites and reach intended audiences, and developers write the code that provides the technical foundation of these websites, It is a fast-growing STEM career path that offers a median salary of $73K and up to $150K per year, offering flexible and fun careers to those who don’t want to report to an office every day. Many designers and developers enjoy being independent and contracting their services to small and large companies while working remotely. Others are employed full time and use their skills to help their company grow and succeed. Most designers and developers have both design and coding skills, allowing them to better help their clients succeed and meet business goals.
A Flexible Career
Web design and development is one of the growing STEM careers that offers unparalleled flexibility and opportunities to work on impactful projects, and many designers and developers aren’t required to commute to an office each day. According to research, 30 percent of the U.S. working population currently freelances in some capacity, and that will grow to 51 percent by 2020. Web designers and developers often can have just as much of an impact working remotely as from an office. Additionally, web design and development serve as the foundation of many of the technologies we rely on today. It is a stable career that isn’t going to disappear overnight, which makes it a safe bet for those seeking to get started in a brand new career.
The First Step to Getting Started
To get started in the industry, you will need to gain design and development skills. The good news is that you do not need a traditional college degree to enter the field. Employers value candidates who have industry certifications and a project portfolio—so it is important to find courseware that will prepare you in both of these areas. I am partial to online courses that allow you to play around and “sandbox” your practice work, as I believe they are a great way for learning at your own speed. For tools, all you need is a browser and text editor. Avoid courses that teach specific applications like Adobe Dreamweaver and WordPress—in my experience, companies want people who don’t rely on a specific tool. Learn the basics first.
In the course style I am suggesting, you will learn by building real projects and creating a digital resume that will showcase your skills to potential employers. This is important to demonstrate your technical aptitude and ability to successfully develop and guide a project from beginning to end. You can also gain in-demand industry certifications to prove to companies you have a comprehensive skill set and are ready to produce for them on day one. Side note: it’s wise to avoid industry certifications from testing companies and instead seek a less biased source, like professional associations, as they are more interested in measuring technical aptitude and proficiency. It just makes sense that companies will place a higher value on more meaningful certifications backed by a professional organization, like WebProfessionals.org, than from another testing company. Always consider the source of the certification—your next employer certainly will.
To be completely transparent, I am not a professional career coach or workforce counselor. However, I am an employer who has worked with people who came to me after working in other industries. These employees have transferable skills and successfully transitioned to the world of web design and development. Recently, we had 26 people working on a project, and most of the members of the web team had spent time in other industries before switching to web development. I have also had the pleasure of witnessing adults retraining from the inside in my duties as an adjunct instructor for adult education design and development courses.
A Career in Web Design and Development is Possible
Be proud of what you have done and learned in manufacturing: through valuable experience, you have gained many valuable and transferable skills. You learned how to take responsibility, solve problems, work in teams, develop technical aptitude, cross-train in other disciplines and more. You can take this experience and build on it to enter the exciting and rapidly expanding world of web design and development. Contact WebProfessionals.org today for more information on how to begin your path to an exciting new career.
We believe 2019 saw our most successful web design and development competition ever. We held this in Louisville, KY, during the last week of June. Our competition is one of 103 individual competitions at SkillsUSA Nationals. Competitors must win first place in their respective states for the opportunity to compete nationally. We also choose one winner from these competitions to represent the US at WorldSkills. That competition is held every two years (and the next will happen this August in Kazan, Russia).
Our on site team
We are so appreciative of the massive efforts by so many members of Web Professionals to make this competition a reality. We have our team on site for almost an entire week. They conduct the interviews of competitors (and these mimic real interviews as many of the individuals conducting the interviews hire web professionals as part o their daily jobs. They also review the process each team follows as they provide solutions to the business problems posed in our competition work order. They also make certain the server and network environment is running smoothly and that all tams can access their individual server, cloud storage, and editor. This can be a particular challenge when some teams bring school computers which have been so locked down one can not even access the Windows Control Panel. Our team also develops the competition project/ work order and configures the environment before the competition. We are so thankful for all the help and could not do it without you.
We run two separate competitions (Wednesday is for high school students). We had 52 individuals competing this year. Our Thursday competition is for college students. We had 20 individuals competing this year. When the competition ends each day, we transfer all the work by each team to a secure location on one of our web servers. Judges from other states can then review the work of each team. Our judges are practicing web professionals and we have more than one judge review the work of each team. Each judge focuses on a specific area (such as accessibility). All scores are collected and finalized by the following morning. We could not achieve all this without our off site judges. If you are reading this and would like to help (or would like more information), please contact us. We can always use more judges.
An overview of the network environment covers the fundamentals of how competitors access the local resources. Given the logistics of where the event is held, it is simply not feasible (nor cost effective) to offer actual Internet access to competitors.
Before the competition begins, we offer training to competitors and their advisors the day before (Tuesday). This is our opportunity to make certain everyone has a solid understanding of current industry best practices as they relate to web design and development. It also gives competitors and their advisors the opportunity to ask questions and develop a better understanding of what the competition is all about. In the photo below, Jonathan is discussing process best practices.
We also had our WorldSkills Web Design and Development competitor (Matt Vreman) speak to competitors and their advisors before the competition began. He discussed his background (he won gold at one of our prior competitions). Matt reviewed his progress as he prepares to compete in Kazan, Russia in August, 2019. I will be accompanying him as his advisor in that competition (each country is allowed to bring in one expert to help their competitor). There will be roughly 50 countries competing in Russia in web design and development.
This was our 16th year running a national web design and development competition. A lot has changed in our industry over that time. We like to think that our competition has kept pace with changes in our industry. Over these years, we have had the chance to speak with roughly 2,000 competitors and their advisors/ teachers. We believe that we are making a difference in that competitors and their teachers see what current best practices are and many have adjusted their curriculum accordingly. We see these trends continuing based on the feedback received this year (particularly from advisors). We could not do this without the help of our members; they serve in many roles (including judges and on site team). However, members also provide the funding (through their annual membership dues) to help us achieve our goal of insuring that the next generation of web professionals is following current industry best practices. We couldn’t do this without your support. If you are reading this and have not yet become a member, we encourage you to support us in this endeavor.
Best always, Mark DuBois Executive Director and Lead Community Evangelist