Illinois WOW Web Design contest reflections

I supervised the Illinois WOW/ SkillsUSA web design contest in Springfield on April 16. Many, many thanks to Jonathan Worent for his help with this contest. Jonathan – it would be much more difficult without you. I am most appreciative of you taking time from your day job as owner of Inspired Bytes to judge the contest today.. Also, thanks to Shari Tripp for her help in reviewing the contest materials. Both Shari and Jonathan offered a number of improvements to this contest. Although the contest is still underway, here are a few observations (both what has been observed this year as well as insights from previous years).

First and foremost, everyone should follow instructions. The contest is designed with a very specific set of challenges and those are the challenges which should be addressed. Ask questions. Think of the contest supervisor and judge as the client. They can provide insights into the challenges. Some of the questions posed were excellent. However, I would have expected more. Also make certain you document the scaffolding process. Take notes on the printed version of the contest that was provided. This helps the judges see that you are actively and critically thinking about the contest and deciding how to break it into smaller chunks which can be addressed individually.

From a technical perspective, make certain to save your work. Save often. We called teams for interviews and noted that many did not save their work when they were interviewed. It is also a good idea to make certain to not have any “untitled document” titles and to include necessary meta information to help with search engine spiders. Lastly, don’t forget to include comments in your HTML and CSS.

As everyone saw, we emphasized HTML and CSS knowledge this year. Adherence to web standards and a good understanding of accessibility issues will go a long way to generating successful pages for each of the challenges.

I hope to be able to post a few more comments after the competition has ended. From our perspective, it looks like everyone enjoyed the competition and is rising to the challenges. Congratulations to all who competed. You are a model for your peers. You stepped up and took a risk to improve your knowledge and test your skills. Well done. Although there can only be one first place winner in each contest (secondary and post-secondary), you all should be proud of your accomplishments today.

Lastly, many, many thanks to the sponsors of our contest – and the World Organization of Webmasters. You rock.

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