When it comes to Web 2.0 development, it is not uncommon to see professionals who are in their twenties and can brag with 5-10 years of experience on the web development sphere. This is not uncommon because, along with the rapid growth of the web, the barriers to entry into development are relatively low. What makes things harder, is keeping up with the rapid growth of cutting edge technology used on the web. Ajax, accessibility, Flash, ActionScript 3, and Flex, are familiar to many but well known by few. Those who know web development learned it mostly on their own.There are very few educational institutions to offer quality web education, and the Art Institute In Atlanta is one of them. That is why in looking for quality developers it is important to look for their track record of independent learning. Here are some tips on the conditions of the web industry, the effects they have on finding quality People 2.0, and some ideas on how to go about identifying good developers.
Why is it so hard to find good people with Ajax and Web Standards background?
There are two general paths to strong web developers and engineers, and those often have a really hard time intersecting.
1. Design -> HTML/CSS -> Web Standards -> -> -> -> -> Web enginnering (Ajax, PHP, JSP, etc)
2. Software Engineering -> JSP/PHP/ASP -> HTML -> Ajax ->-> CSS -> -> -> -> -> Web Standards
The number of arrows represents the difficulty most developers and engineers have in crossing the chasm between web design and web engineering. It has something to do with skill sets, left and right brain thinking, and lack of respect for Layout related work which some Software Engineers have that leads to no desire for them to invest the time in learning web standards and quality (front-end) web development work.
That is why finding strong people who can do both is difficult and costly. Many Engineers claim to have skills in HTML and CSS but have no idea what web standards entail, and as a result absolutely hate dealing with browser issues, which are the core of quality web development. Many web designers fear entering the programming world, and stop at HTML and CSS development, becoming really really good at converting an image into a quality layout. Those who are able to cover both, tend to be in very high demand. Here is an article on recruiting and and retaining the good people you find.
How about flash people?
Because of the “cool” factor of Flash, many entered the field in the early and mid 2000s . Many played with the animating functionalities, and timeliness, and even a little inline ActionScript. Just like the gap between Web Designers and Web Engineers, it was also hard for Flash Designers to jump into Flash Programming. At the same time, many who have ever touched Flash have dreamed of using this easy to manipulate technology to make a living. Making games, and more. Many with little skill and a lot of motivation went and started looking for Jobs.
Flash however evolved, especially its programming part, Action Script. The standard programming language for the system went from a completely custom language (Actionscript 1 and 2), to Object Oriented Programming (ActionScript 3). Needless to say, this weeded out a lot of people who were lacking the commitment or skill to learn the new language.
A strong method of picking out good programmers from bad ones, is still by looking at examples of hands-on coding. From portfolio work, to code snipppets, and finally an in-house code-writing exercises. Skills in programming range in such a wide spectrum and way too many candidates list languages they have only studied in school and used no further to gain hands-on writing experience.
A people hire A people
An interesting presentation by Marc Andreessen at Startup School reveals “The law of crappy people: A people hire A people. B people hire C people.”
The capabilities and the confidence of the people at any level of the company as you grow are going to degrade down to the the worst person at that level. It is astonishing. If someone is is just as good as the weakest higher level person, all people promoted there after will get compared to that lower person. That is particularly pertinent to corporations and large organizations where little attention is paid to the individual.
Morale is contagious, and so is demoralization as a result of burn-out, poor treatment or leadership who is unaware of and powerless to the issued developers are dealing with. Keep track of the traces both of these leave in your organization, and address them as your highest priority, especially if you have to hire new people because of high turnover. The web world is small, and People 2.0, just like their recruiters, are able to find plenty of information about their potential employers before making a decision.
Posted by: Diana Zink on Tuesday, 3rd Jun, 2008