On Craft, A New Professionalism And New Amateurs

There’s a discussion among some folks that has been going on over the last few weeks that I thought was worth pointing out for those who haven’t come across it. It has seemed to take two directions, both quite introspective and dealing with some of the same concerns. The main thread through it all being the definition of our craft.

There are now so many web sites, blogs or publications devoted to helping people learn standards and accessible techniques that there are now no excuses not to work with semantic code or CSS. Those people still delivering nested table layout, spacer gifs or ignoring accessibility can no longer call themselves web professionals. – Andy Clarke

Many of us, Old Professionals have been involved in mailing lists and online communities advocating standards, accessibility, guidelines as well as offering help, information, and resources for several years. We do it because we are passionate and believe in what we are doing. Advocating has not been easy, but it is rewarding and exciting to see change and understanding grow. We have been doing this since the mid to late 1990’s, and much of the early advocacy and information exchanges were the groundwork for all the excellent information and resources that exist today. We need to look outside of our web community and start working in other areas, too. – Holly Marie Koltz

Just in the last couple of days I have read no less than three articles that all bring up something I have felt for a long time: Web professionals who refuse to update their skills and insist on using outdated methods can no longer be called web professionals.

Some will call me an elitist for saying that. But think about it. Why should web professionals not be required to know their craft? I find that attitude — which is held by many in the industry and by many more outside of it — insulting to those of us who work hard every day to keep up with current best practices. – Roger Johansson

It look like many are itching both to clarify exactly what it is that we’re trying to accomplish when we talk with a mouthful of buzzwords like CSS, XHTML, Semantics, Unobtrusive JavaScript, Accessibility and do a better job at defining the product that it is our “job” to produce and measures of quality. Its not just about the pretty and the visual polish — we know that, but how many others do?

One topic but not part of the discussion yet is the education of the new clients. This can be difficult, and some may say irrelevant. After all, its the developers who can often do much of this work and have it slip under the radar of management who don’t know what things like View Source is. But if there are real advantages beyond making the individual coder’s life easier then we should be looking for new ways to articulate, measure and present those benefits to clients and stake holders. Again, we know how to define “quality”, but unless those funding projects can situations like the oft-cited Disney Store UK redesign will continue to be somewhat common because management is working off a totally different system of measurement.

Again, its about both clarifying the product that “web professionals” should be offering, what the benefits are, and then getting that information spread to all those people who have a stake in what it is we do. Its not a new question at all, but is it time to refocus on it and regroup? If so where do we start?

And if the above wasn’t enough I’ll leave you with a couple relevant asides:

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