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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.

 

 

Web Professionals Organization Announces Improved Model for 2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Competition

Web Professionals Organization Announces Improved Model for 2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Competition

The Web Professionals Organization is proud to announce a new and streamlined model for states to deploy SkillsUSA Web Design and Development competitions in 2022.

Building on over 20 years of experience running competitions, including the last two years of competitions run 100% virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Web Professionals
Organization has improved the process for administering competitions at the state level. 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 in 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. Competitions are run for free, and the model makes the judging process more standardized and easier than ever before. States can run competitions whenever they want throughout 2022.

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 the competitors will need to meet at the 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 of this new model include:

  • 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.
  • Competitor coding validator (a simple app) that will automatically check a team’s project and give your judging team a report outlining the quality of coding. This tool does in just minutes what would take a person one hour, dramatically cutting down on judging time.
  • 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 the Web Professionals Organization.
  • Fast and easy sign-up for state SkillsUSA leadership teams to reserve their free competition kit and web-based tools suite.

Because of these new systems the Web Professionals Organization 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.

WebProfessionals.org Announces Director of Education and Training

WebProfessionals.org Announces Director of Education and Training

Steve Waddell to lead the Web Professional Association’s education and training efforts into a bold new future, increasing access to education and training around the globe

WebProfessionals.org, a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting the development of innovative, affordable and high quality web jobs and career training, has named Steve Waddell as Director of Education and Training.

Steve Waddell the office dog

In this new role, Waddell will use his 30 years of curriculum development, entrepreneurial and market experience to strategically expand the organization’s education initiatives and global influence. Building on the success of the WebProfessionals.org “SchoolofWeb.org” training program Waddell will seek out and cultivate strategic alliances and partnerships that acknowledge the tremendous contribution WebProfessionals.org has on advancing access to quality education and training on behalf of the millions of aspiring and practicing web workers everywhere.

“We are delighted to welcome Steve,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the Web Professionals Association. “His experience and skills match up perfectly with our goals for the next phase of WebProfessionals.org work. Beyond a track record of building global coalitions and championing innovative solutions that improve lives, Steve brings an authentic and inspiring leadership style. His infectious energy, sense of humor and passion for making a positive social impact will propel us while creating a global movement that recognizes, supports, and promotes the vital and complementary role of individually-owned social enterprises.”

Waddell’s entire career has been dedicated to creating innovative solutions and building authentic relationships that result in positive outcomes for all. 

“Over the past decade, I have come to know the WebProfessionals.org team and their total commitment to their mission of supporting Web professionals and those that teach. It is hard not to be attracted to working with such a fantastic group of professionals. It is an honor to be joining the WebProfessionals.org team and championing the work of engaging and upskilling the next generation,” said Waddell. “I would not have accepted this opportunity if I had not already seen how WebProfessionals.org has always done the right thing to help existing professionals and professionals on a global scale. They are the international organization with an inclusive vision for all.

About WebProfessionals.org

Established in 1997, WebProfessionals.org is a non-profit professional association dedicated to the support of individuals and organizations who create, manage and market websites, apps and web technologies. The organization provides education and training resources as well as certifications for those who work and teach in web technologies as well as those aspiring to enter this growing career field.

Successful 16th Annual Web Contest

Successful 16th Annual Web Contest

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.

Our onsite team of Web Professionals who make certain the competition runs smoothly. All are standing in front of our contest banner and promotional banners.
Our onsite team (from left to right) – Grant, Steve, Mark, Jonathan, Jeff, James, and David.

Our judges

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.

If you are interested in overall comments from our judges, we provided a summary for competitors to review on our separate Web Design Contest site.

The competition environment

For those who would like to learn more about the environment we utilize, we prepared a couple of articles on our Web Design Contest site. These are listed below.

  • An overview of the server environment covers the fundamentals of how the server is configured using containers so that the work of each team is separated and secure.
  • 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.

Training

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.

Jonathan discussing the overall process practices for web design and development to roughly 100 competitors and their advisors.
Jonathan provided an overview of process best practices to competitors and their advisors.

WorldSkills Competitor

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.

Matthew Vreman answers questions from competitors and their advisors prior to the start of our competition.
Matthew Vreman (WorldSkills competitor in web design and development) answering questions

Contest Impact

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

Overview of our recent visit to 3M

WebProfessionals.org is proudly training the U.S. competitor for web design and development for SkillsUSA. Matt Vreman will be competing at WorldSkills in Kazan, Russia later this year. He won the competition among individuals who have won our national web design and development contest over the past few years. WorldSkills competitions happen every two years. WebProfessionals.org has been involved in these competitions since 2013.

As part of his training, we were able to participate in a series of meetings in Minnesota last week. Matt received some mentorship from two individuals who are part of the team responsible for 3m.com (Laurie and Ashley). They provided a number of useful insights and observations which should help Matt as he continues to prepare.

We hope you enjoy this quick overview of some of the events which happened last week. If you would like to help with Matt’s training (or help with our national web design and development competition, please indicate in the comments section.

Recent 3M Visit with WorldSkills Web Competitor from Mark DuBois on Vimeo.

Our certification process

Our certification process

Recently, I was asked to document how we develop our certification exams. I thought it might be helpful for visitors to this blog to better understand the process as well. We always try to keep our certifications in line with what is happening in the industry. We offer a number of certifications (ranging from novice to professional levels) in web design, web development, mobile and app development and a number of related areas.

Individual at work with the word cwertification highlighted

Background

We have been offering our certifications for roughly two decades. Obviously, our processes have changed over that time. For example, when I served as Director of Education, we met in Las Vegas (in person) for several days to identify specific areas of focus in our certifications. Nowadays, we hold most of our discussions via email and teleconferences. Here is a bit about our internal process. Frankly, I have personally been involved with many certification efforts over my many years of experience in this field. I have worked closely with companies such as Adobe and Microsoft. Given what I have observed, I can attest that our certifications are comparable and follow roughly the same set of processes. Of course, there is one key difference – our certifications are vendor neutral.

Anyone working in this field understands that technology changes rapidly (and this churn means we need to keep our certifications up to date). This is why those who have earned a certificate from us need to have it renewed every two years.

Our process

Essentially, the process involves periodic review of the current domains and subdomains we cover by individuals in business, industry, and education. We also use this information to keep other initiatives (such as our national web design competition) up to date. Once we have identified that changes need to be made, we have individuals with significant experience in writing questions develop appropriate questions (which include distractors and other features to help confirm individuals really understand the technology). These questions are then reviewed/ revised and eventually end up in question pools. We pull questions from these pools when an individual takes an exam. Obviously, different questions are developed for novice and beginning certifications and for professional certifications. As an aside, we also ask anyone taking a professional level certification to provide documentation they have worked in the industry for at least two years.

We believe it is important that individuals who work in our field consider holding a professional level certification. We believe it is also important those aspiring to work in our industry hold entry level certifications. This is confirmation you have a base level of knowledge and skills for our industry. Of course, we also believe individuals in our industry should be part of a professional organization and collaborate with others. We also ask members to sign a code of ethics. We even include a link to agree to our code of ethics for non- members [it is posted near the bottom of our home page.] It is only through our combined efforts we raise the bar of professionalism in our industry.

Become involved

If you would like to be part of the group which periodically reviews our domains and subdomains, please leave a comment below. By providing your email address, we will know how to contact you. We encourage you to consider helping us (and our industry) by providing your insights periodically as to what matters in today’s rapidly changing field.

I look forward to your comments (and hope you consider assisting us and providing your insights into our process).

Best always,
Mark DuBois
Executive Director and Community Evangelist