Monday 14 November 2005

Web Standards and The New Professionalism

WITH THE AFTERMATH of the Disney UK Store redesign fiasco still ringing in our collective ears, I am coming to believe that we’re in a process of defining a new professionalism for Web developers and designers.

In an interview with Accessify’s Ian Lloyd, Accessibility: The gloves come off, my oft-colleague in the education and training of Web designers and developers, Andy Clarke, delivers a strong message that truly needs to be heard:

“Those people still delivering nested table layout, spacer gifs or ignoring accessibility can no longer call themselves web professionals.”

The heart of the issue is simple: We must know our craft! And what we don’t know, we must be willing to say we don’t know and be open to learning. As Clarke points out:

“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.”

We also have each other. Between the blogs and various sites, lists, wikis, meetups, geek dinners, and conferences there simply is no excuse to not reach out and help each other understand the difficulties, nuances, and challenges of our craft.

In another recent article AT&T: One Full Year with Web Standards, Joe D’Andrea discusses his experiences bringing that monolith into the standards age.

Joe writes:

“I’m incredibly pleased – and proud – to have helped and others at AT&T evolve from a hodgepodge of largely nutritionless mid ’90s-era markup to their current leaner, healthier state.”

Whatever we call it – Web 2.0, evangelism, religion, or simply the best way to do our jobs, I can’t agree more with the strong yet very clear message that real-world Web professionals are sharing. No doubt that getting to a highly skilled level isn’t that easy. Believe me, I understand. I’ve been at it for the majority of my career and as the old adage goes, the more I learn, the less I realize I know.

The essence of this new professionalism isn’t about being perfect at what we do. It’s being able to say: Hey, I don’t know that. Let me go find out. It isn’t about knowing it all, because we surely never will. And, there will be shifts and changes. D’Andrea, for example, expresses that he’s concerned how new senior management at AT&T will deal with the site from here forward.

We can save the discussion of consumer rights and our role in assisting consumers for another day. That, and the subtle fixes that Disney Store UK has made since the public outcry less than two weeks ago. Obviously, someone got the message, but it still isn’t good enough. Again, more for another day.

Today, I want to express that I believe that this new professionalism means taking responsibility for the education of ourselves and each other, and ensuring that reversions like Disney Store UK never happen again.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 22:10 | Comments (452)

Comments (452)

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  2. I enjoyed reading your posts. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view. So please keep up the great work.

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  4. this is very good personal site.

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  6. Hi!

    Concering web standards, business and success,…

    Some days ago I had received an email from an Austrian authority which is responsible for the advertising business – you are a member of that section, if your business is related to professional advertising, you work as a graphic artist, or things like that – where members were informed about the status and the diffusion of accessible websites, designed by “professionals”. The conclusion was, that the implementation of accessibility standards seems to be rare, even if legislation demands the orientation on accessibility by 2010 – as far as I am informed.

    As a professional web designer you can inform people about the “concept of web standards”, you can rely on them, you will develop an attractive, accessible, barrier free and usable website which shows some cross-browser-compatibilty, but a client is interested in selling his service / his products and his website “will have to be found”. What does he look at? Screen design and a remarkable message, what else – naturally the design every human being can perceive – in a general point of view. Well, statements like “my site can be accessed easily by nearly 98% of visitors”. IMHO, these are the criteria a business man / woman focuses on.

    If your business website is no authority, your success depends of what you claim and what you sell – the voice that talks about professionalism won´t be heard, will it? In a philosophical point of view, you may live two different kinds of lives – the one of a materialist and the one of an idealist. Well, what about a combination?
    I like professionalists and people who point at a progressive way of develeopment. What might be a possible conclusion? Web standards are not to be “sold”, but you may refer to the results which have professionally been established and which show their impact.

    If a wide range of your business competitors do not rely on the concept of web standards, a very well configured server environment, a daily inspection of the log files and good look may help 🙂

    Just a personal point of view.
    I do not raise any universal claim.

  7. Ohhh…. thanks for informations Molly 🙂

  8. Its great work. Thank you.

    Best regards

  9. Thanks to Molly for sharing and for the helpful informations 🙂

  10. Very interesting article.

    I believe that in order to be considered a professional by today’s standards requires a pretty thorough understanding of W3C standards, accessibility, and semantics. It also requires the ability to reach out to the community when you are stuck on a problem and also when you want to share a technique. Marketing goals, IA, and deadlines are problems we solve by understanding our tools (HTML, CSS, DOM) and how to use those tools properly.


  11. One of the big problems is that although we think we use common standard in our CSS it might cause some problems for your site.
    I read a great article about how the display: none feature can get your site banned as it can be interpreted as spam by search engines. What do you think about this?

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  14. thanks for your sharing

  15. thank you for the information

  16. sooo many responses? crazy!

  17. has a great little post on Web Standards and The New Professionalism, a look at how anyone who st

  18. Nice!!! thank you

  19. I really enjoyed reading all of your articles abut Web Standards . It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more. Keep up the good work… Greetings…

  20. Great Article, Thank you!

  21. Hello Molly. Great Article. Further description of this topic. The idea is already old, but until today has unfortunately done little.

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  25. Even though I agree that everyone has probably done this at some point in their careers, they should not call themselves as web professionals.

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  27. I simply call it Web 2.0 – Great article even it is three years old.

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  30. HiMolly, thanks a lot for your article, great stuff and helpful informations. Thanks for spending your time in writing…
    Hugs from Germany

  31. Hey
    I want to thank you for your article. It’s very interesting to read and there are a lot of information, so that I do not have to ask anything further.
    Best regards!

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