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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.

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Posted by: Diana Zink on Tuesday, 3rd Jun, 2008

5 CommentsMake A Comment
  • software_developer Said:  

    good notes, thank you Diana..

  • Barrett Said:  

    To hire an A developer you need to have an A class job. I get a steady stream of recruiting keyword searched job offers in the mail for 4-6 month contacts in another city or state even with no information about the hiring company. I think there is one more type of developer you left out that sits in the middle of your two type paths. Someone can skip Design and span HTML/CSS all the way to JSP/PHP/ASP. My experience trying to hire additional developers has been similar to what you spoke about. I have had the best experience taking people with no experience or skill and training them to be in that middle ground reliably.

    I could ramble for a while but I just wanted to say that to catch a big fish you have to have the right bait. More often than not your stuck with bread crumbs for jobs to offer.

  • Diana Zink Said:  

    You are right Barrett, it takes two to Tango. Good developers do seek good jobs and in the previous post ( http://www.dianazink.com/blog/index.php/2008/06/03/recruiting-and-retaining-people-2-0/ ) I have also mentioned some of the elements in a job that would attract quality developers.

    When it comes to bringing people to the level a company needs them to be there are also two different criteria for quality: Aptitude and Attitude . Many companies choose between one or the other, as there is often a difficulty in finding both at the same time. For many reasons it seems to be better to hire for Attitude and then try to boost Aptitude. Yet the sad part is that many companies forget to nurture the Attitude part after hiring… and then wonder why it is so hard to find good people. “Evil spirits” can rub off on entire teams.

  • des Said:  

    Do you really understand how hard it is to do web development? If you want to you could find mistakes on every website on the web without FAIL!!

  • Boris Said:  

    If the budget allows, it is better to recruit specialists with experience, or do not take one.

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