why does the web get no respect?

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.

4 Comments

Filed under Web

4 responses to “why does the web get no respect?

  1. What? But the best websites are the ones where you’re forced to watch an unnecessary graphic dance around for two minutes before you can enter and attempt to find the information you came to get but cannot locate! Duh.

  2. insidetimshead

    And let’s not forget MySpace, Laura! On second thought, let’s forget MySpace entirely.

  3. Well said, sir. As the web matures, the profession (or, I would argue, “craft,” but we can quibble about semantics another time) matures along with it. Ultimately, the wealth of talents needed for this evolving field are at a level much higher than even some of the most talented and educated communications or technical people can bring to the table. That’s why we see such a breadth of backgrounds in this field right now. Plus the students.

  4. Susan Rapps

    Yes, this is very well said. I’ve often told managers (and officers) on campus that if capable staff people who know the department and the institution say they’re too busy to communicate with constituents in the primary way those audiences choose to look for the information (the Web) — I mean no disrespect, but perhaps we should re-think our priorities. Some have also observed that most staff have no training related to the Web — but they’d readily turn one of the most important communicators of our brand over to a student? It’s time to dispell the myth that anyone who has visited 3 Web sites and has an opinion based on how they use the Web is qualified to work on professional Web sites. Let’s also acknowledge the opportunity cost of the time spent fixing the resultant issues (or trying to change it by making this argument) which takes away from time available for activities that stand a chance of truly making better Web sites.

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