A web professional can never stop learning

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bring up something I have felt for a long time: Web professionals who refuse to update their skills and insist on using outdated methods can no longer be called web professionals.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.

I am very happy to see others voicing their opinions on this. Ian Lloyd has posted an interview with Andy Clarke at Accessify: Interview with Andy Clarke (AKA Accessibility, the gloves come off). Here's a quote that could have been from me:

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.

The gloves come off indeed. If you want to comment on that quote, hop on over to Accessibility, the gloves come off at And all that Malarkey.

I completely agree with what Andy says. There is no reason to call anyone who will not make an effort to keep their skills up-to-date a professional. Note that I'm pointing my finger at those who do not want to learn, not those who simply do not know any better, but are willing to learn about modern web design and development.

Molly E. Holzschlag follows up with Web Standards and The New Professionalism, where she notes that:

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

The key word for me here is craft. There are so many people working in the web industry that just don't seem to care about what they do for a living. There are so many people that just do whatever it takes to muddle through or "get the job done", which is a rather popular phrase used to defend outdated methods.

I don't know everything about web development. Far from it. But when I don't know something, I admit it and go looking for knowledge. Or ask someone who does know.

Finally there's John Oxton, who delivers the following message in Why it's now ex-HTML (certain words censored):

What I want is HTML that kicks up a royal f*****g stink if it isn't treated properly. HTML that takes no s**t, with a built in big flashy message (GO AWAY AND LEARN ABOUT ME!) for people who refuse to take the time to learn this super simple language and who refuse to refine their understanding.

John is talking about XHTML served as XML here. I know that many do not believe in letting the client (as in web browser) display error messages to the person visiting the site instead of trying to figure out what the author actually meant. Let's leave that out of the discussion, and instead imagine that all web browsers did display such error messages. Don't you think that would make a whole lot of so-called web professionals awfully interested in learning how to fix those errors?

Yes, if HTML had been that strict from the beginning, the web would not have become what it is today because the learning curve would have been too steep for the masses. But the web is more mature now than it was over a decade ago, when the first graphical browsers appeared. It's about time for web professionals to follow.

Update: Another couple of posts on this subject:

Posted on November 15, 2005 in Web Standards, (X)HTML