Would a professor just pick any student to come up and teach an important class? Would administrators send in students with no particular training to run a vital student-affairs program? Of course not. So why, in higher education, do so many think bringing in students with no real knowledge of Web standards to do a Web page is an acceptable solution? As if the Web were a hobby, not a profession?
With today being Blue Beanie Day in support of Web standards, it’s as good a day as any to argue that working with the Web is, indeed, a profession. It’s becoming the most important avenue of communication in higher education. Many of us seek out top conferences and training on usability, techniques and practices. We scour the Web for great sites and blogs telling us the latest developments. We amass networks of fellow Web professionals to broaden our knowledge base. So when we hear from time to time that someone in an office has just hired a student who wants to design a Flash-based splash page with animated clip art graphics, I think it’s fair to be concerned.
Let’s not let Web quality continue to live the life of Rodney Dangerfield. The Internet is no longer in its infancy where chaos ruled. We’ve come to learn some techniques and tactics work best, even as we leave plenty of room for creativity. Those using the Web as a profession should take up the cause of standards. If not us, then whom? When we create Web sites that our users can easily access and navigate, and when we provide positive user experiences, everyone benefits.