Certification of Quality?
With the continuing output of poorly implemented, inaccessible, and unusable websites, perhaps its time the community develops a formal review system to identify the developers and designers dedicated to building websites correctly.
Is anyone else bothered by the lack of quality that pervades the web design industry? Everywhere I turn, there’s a website so deplorable in its design, so rancorous in its code, and so ghetto in its final execution that I question how and why the site builder bothered crawling from the primordial ooze to manage a career
ruining building websites.
I run into this issue constantly in my freelance work. Most of my projects are redesigns. A lot of them are just old, and are burdened by all the baggage that comes from decade-old development — terrible content, inconsistent navigation, table-based layouts, the nagging sensation of being trapped unwittingly in a Clockwork Orange torture experiment. I’m not really talking about these first generation sites; to critically evaluate a design from 1999 or 2000 is akin to questioning why ancient pyramid builders did not install air conditioning. Rather, I’m discussing our contemporaries.
Clients come to me with abysmal websites that need to be revamped. This is a good thing. But what drives me crazy is when I hear, “this was developed just last year, but we’re just not happy with it.” Or worse, when I lose a bid on a project, check the URL six months later to see what the winning contractor developed, and find a spinning logo, Flash navigation running at 12 FPS, frames, primary colors, and an architecture so inaccessible it’s a wonder they haven’t been sued into the eighth circle of hell for deliberate fraudulence against their fellow man.
Clients are being deceived. They cannot be blamed; they often (and not incorrectly) go with the lowest bidder because they assume all web designers are equal. Which, as you and I know full well, is anything but the truth.
Many industries have a seal of quality, or a certification of excellence, or a symbol of trust — something of tangible value that reaffirms to customers that yes, this contractor/product/store/facility is indeed of the highest pedigree within their industry, and can be trusted to do the job right. For example:
- ISO 9001:2000
- BBB Online
- Organic food certifications (except the USDA one)
- Microsoft Certifications
- State-specific architectural licenses (such as Iowa or California)
- CPA, one of the most difficult
You get the idea. The fundamental concept is a formal review process by a third party (sometimes a state government, other times a non-profit) that validates the quality of the vendor in question. Sometimes it’s simple and straight-forward (Microsoft), and sometimes it’s groin-grabbingly difficult (the CPA exam).
A web designer that wants to demonstrate her quality has to cobble together miscellaneous logos and whatnot to provide a rough illustration of her dedication and reliability. She might be a member of GAWDS, or part of AIGA, or even contribute to the Web Standards Project.
The obvious problem is the lack of a consistent banner, a logo of quality, a seal of approval, a brand of awesomeness. Something. One could argue that the web design industry is not as mission-critical as an accountant or an architect; one could counter by saying those two professions are kept in much higher regard by virtue of the review system that refuses entry to the riffraff that would lower the overall esteem of the avocation.
The web design industry needs some kind of certification designers and developers can achieve to demonstrate their dedication to the craft and of providing the highest quality product. I would propose a non-for-profit, independent third party consortium. Maybe it’s partially funded by large organizations, maybe it’s completely volunteer-driven. The details are fuzzy.
While the will to do something is there, the scope and feasibility of the idea is not well formed in my head. Thoughts?