313 – Thinking the unthinkable (TTUT). Episode 1: Certified

“Thinking the unthinkable (TTUT). Episode 1: Certified” with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

These shows notes are best read in conjunction with the podcast audio.

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Welcome to the very first episode in our sparkling new series that we are calling “Thinking the Unthinkable”.

Here we challenge ourselves to answer (or at least rationalise) provocative statements or critical opinions of WordPress and our glorious website building profession.

We are gently easing ourselves in with today’s topic, which is… “Website builders should be certified” (like – what proper professionals are)! By “certified” we mean officially recognised as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards. Not legally declared insane and committed to a psychiatric institution.

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So this post might provide some context to our discussion, it’s about CertifyWP:

CertifyWP, a new organization, will soon launch a WordPress credentialing process. The organization, which is in the process of seeking non-profit/501(c)3 status in the US, will be the first of its kind for WordPress credentials.

Working alongside WPConnects, a training program that benefits US Military, separating military, and military veterans, CertifyWP hopes to smooth the entry for those newly trained in WordPress (management, design, and development) into the WordPress employment space through hiring partnerships within WPConnects as well as the community at large.

CertifyWP website

No modern podcast would dream of getting into such a topic without asking ChatGPT what it thinks!

Question: Why do website builders not have qualification or governing bodies like plumbers, builders, electricians, lawyers and other professions?

There are a few reasons… One is that web development is a relatively new field, and it has evolved quickly over the past few decades. As a result, there are not yet established standards or qualifications that are widely recognized in the field.

Another reason is that the skills needed to build a website can be learned through a variety of means, such as online courses, tutorials, and self-study. This makes it difficult to develop a standardised certification process that would be applicable to all website builders. (Dadiv adds – this is true of other professions with governing bodies)

Finally, the field … is very diverse, and there are many different specialties and sub-fields within it. This can make it challenging to develop a single set of qualifications that would be applicable to all website builders.


Overall, while there may not be specific qualifications or governing bodies for website builders, there are still ways to assess the skills and experience of a potential hire, such as by looking at their portfolio of past work, their technical skills, and their communication skills.

Let’s ask ChatGPT another question, shall we?

Question: Do you know of any qualifications I should look for if hiring someone to build me a website?

It’s important to look for someone with experience and knowledge in web development. Some key qualifications to look for in a website builder include:

  • A degree in computer science or a related field
  • Experience in building websites using various technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Knowledge of web design principles and best practices
  • Experience using content management systems, such as WordPress or Drupal
  • Knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) principles
  • Experience working with databases and server-side technologies (and Jamstack)
  • Strong problem-solving and troubleshooting skills

Additionally, it can be helpful to look for someone who can communicate effectively and work well with others. Having a good working relationship with your website builder can make the process of building your website much smoother and more successful.

Thank you and tune in next time when we ask “Should Chat GPT and AI voices do this podcast”?

Talking points raised in the podcast:

  • If there is the need to legitimise ourselves and distance ourselves from “cowboys”. Perhaps clients like going into uncharted territories?
  • Our promises and appeals to authority (our clients include… our partners are… anyone we bought something from).
  • How can a customer follow Chat GPT’s advice? Experience and knowledge are hard to understand and verify.
  • Are qualifications useful (large employers like Google do their own testing). And… Google certified (AdWords) means they make money for Google. Degree means following a syllabus created years back. Passing the WP Elevation course means they have learned sales.
  • Would a governing body ever be able to keep up or be able to govern globally where the internet and its employees live and work?
  • We do, however, have “web standards” (set by the W3C). We have levels of accessibility. Increasingly measure of performance. We have important thought leaders like the Norman Nielsen Group on UX and UI. Hard to prove we follow them, but can be offered as a way of being verified.

Do we have the answer?

NO, and perhaps we should actively embrace that.

The day that we are happy with a certified and governed way of building websites is probably the day (for better or worse) the web stops being the revolutionary globalising development that it is. That’s the very thing many of us bring to the table, and no one procedural body is likely to be agile enough to serve us.

Is this a bit like getting a University degree? Unless it’s law or medicine et al.), pretty much any certification is just to show that, at some point, you bothered and could turn up and stick at things.

Of course, some subfields could be qualified (visual design, a coding language perhaps).

I feel we should promote our “soft skills” more (communication, empathy and teamwork) which also can not be easily measured in other professions. I think increasingly other industries are finding that qualifications are no longer a good indicator of talent. As tech continues to take care of definable and, hence, teachable skills (see AI), uniquely human creativity is required even more.

It’s not to say we should not try to gain related qualifications (ie learn the options so we can disrupt them) or should ignore important bodies who influence this fast changing web.

We are more like experimental scientists and like them should probably not claim to know the outcomes as “experts”, but put forward controlled hypotheses to test. Good sense generally, because whatever the field, the more experienced and academic we become, the less we know to be true.


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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your hosts David Waumsley and Nathan wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 313 entitled, thinking, the Unthinkable Episode one certified. It was published on Thursday, the 2nd of February, 2023. . My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few short moments by David Wamsley so that we can have our first chat in this new podcast series.

By the way, this podcast series, thinking the Unthinkable, has a very suitable acronym, and the acronym is tut This Time with two Ts, t u Double T, but it somehow seems to fit with the motif of thinking the unthinkable. Before we get stuck into the podcast, a few bits of housekeeping. The first thing to mention is that the Page builder Summit is back.

We're on version five of the Page Builder Summit. You can find [email protected]. It's spelt exactly as you'd imagine, page builder summit.com. It's a five day event taking place from the 20th to the 24th of. It's completely free. There are some upsells if you want to join in with that. But if you go to the website, page builder summit.com from now, you'll be able to join the wait list and if you join the wait list, we will keep you very much updated about the progress and all of the different speakers and events that are taking place.

It's been really popular in the past. We've had thousands of people come through the doors and watch the events. Like I said, completely free for five days. Dozens and dozens of speakers, go and check out the schedule, join the email, listen, you'll get the schedule and hopefully there's a few things in there that you can bookmark and enjoy your experience.

We'd really appreciate it if you wanna spread the word. So remember the URL, page bull of summit.com. Go and share it with your friends and join us at the event. The other thing to mention is our WP Builds deals page. It's a bit like Black Friday, but every single day of the week, go and search for deals in the Word Press space. It's searchable and filterable, and you never know. You might get a significant discount on something that you're looking for.

The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me/wpbuilds. Once more, go.me/wpbuilds. And we really sincerely thank GoDaddy Pro for their support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. What have we got in store for you today? We have a brand new episode series if you like. It's gonna be called Thinking the Unthinkable.

And in this we're gonna take some issues in the WordPress space, which we believe are slightly provocative, and try and rationalize them. And give them a little bit of critical thinking Episodes, hopefully won't stray too far out of the bounds of WordPress. But the first one that we're gonna tackle hopefully will be given away by the title.

The title is certified, and this is the idea that maybe web developers, web designers, web implementers, whatever you want to call yourself, should we have some kind of certification to prove what we can. After all, you wouldn't let a plumber or an electrician into your house unless they could prove that they were capable of doing what they were doing.

In our space, largely, we just rely on people's expertise, their testimonials page, and perhaps some word of mouth, but should there be some kind of certification? The topic has really gained some interest recently because of the project's certified wp. So we chat through all of the different pieces, what might certification be, what might it look like, what might we include, or even is it even a good idea?

I hope you enjoy the podcast.

[00:04:19] David Waumsley: Hello and welcome to the first episode in our sparkling new series that we're calling, thinking the Unthinkable. Here we are challenging ourselves to answer or at least rationalize provocative statements or critical opinions of WordPress and our glorious website building profession.

We're going to gently ease ourself in with today's topic, which is stated as a statement, which is. Website builders should be certified, like what proper professionals are. and I should clear up here. By certified we mean officially recognized as possession, a certain qualification or meeting certain standards not legally declared insane and committed to a psychiatric institution.

Nathan, don't you just love starting a new series, ?

[00:05:07] Nathan Wrigley: Oh yeah. This is gonna be an interesting one. I do like the title, thinking the Unthinkable, like either of us are capable of that. But yeah, this is gonna be an interesting one. Like you said, provocative titles. The, I guess they're a bit Click Beatty. I don't really know if we've, yeah, we've really descended into that or not.

But yeah, we're gonna try and tackle the idea of certification in our industry today, because I guess unlike a lot of industries where people are touting themselves as professional, there is. A real marked lack of this kind of thing. Yeah. Maybe there isn't. Maybe there are a bunch of certificate certifications out there that I just don't know about, yeah.

[00:05:49] David Waumsley: As, I mean at the time of recording this, cuz we're in advance here, the chat, G p l has just been released. Do you

[00:05:57] Nathan Wrigley: mean chat G

[00:05:58] David Waumsley: P T? That's actually what I mean. I've written GP app, . I thought there was something wrong when I was saying that. Yeah, it's very new. . Yeah. The all G P T out there can't remember

[00:06:10] Nathan Wrigley: what that stands for.

Do you? I'm not sure. General purpose Tech? I don't know. I have no idea. No. It's

[00:06:15] David Waumsley: something about pre-training, I think is the pt Anyway, sorry. Yeah, so at the time we're recording this was just released. So what I did is I asked it why do website builder. Not have qualifications or govern in bodies like plumbers, builders, electricians, lawyers, and other professionals.

And it came back with a pretty good answer. Nathan, do you wanna

[00:06:35] Nathan Wrigley: do your I'll read out the answers in a sort of robot-like way just so that we're clearly defining. So the answer to that question, I'm gonna read the question again. Why do you. Website builders not have qualification or governing bodies like plumbers, builders, electricians, lawyers, and other professionals.

And the answer is, there are a few reasons. One is that web development is a relatively new field. I'm gonna stop that. It's a relatively new field, and it has evolved quickly over the past few decades. As a result, there are not yet established standards or qualifications that are widely. Recognized in the field.

Do you know what broadly? I think the first half of that answer is true. That is to say that it is a relatively new field and the quick evolution really does mean that. It's difficult to pin this stuff down. In other words, what you learnt and certified yourself against 24 months ago might very well have radically changed to the point where nothing that you did is of any consequence anymore.

Whereas I'm guessing the rate of change in plumbing and building and law and all of those kind of professions, I'm guessing they're fairly glacial in the way that they change. So if you got off qualification in. 20 years ago, I imagine not much law has changed. Same with plumbing. I imagine that the body of work that a plumber does from day to day is the same today as it was 10 years ago.

Forgive me plumbers if that's not true, but I think there's a g chat. G p t has actually identified quite a lot of truth there. It's changing far more rapidly our industry that is, than than other equivalent ones like, like we just mentioned. I would dispute

[00:08:15] David Waumsley: this next reason. I dunno if you wanna read it out, but basic shall I just yeah, you go ahead.

Sum it up. Basically it's just saying here that the skills that needed to build a website can be learned through various means, online courses, tutorial self-study, which makes it difficult to standardize the certification. But I would say this is true of any other professions and government embodies.

People learn through different means anyway, so I'm not sure if that's a valid one.

[00:08:38] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Okay. So that is interesting, right? So let's take the let me just rephrase that reason. Sorry I failed to read out the whole reason, didn't I? So there was the bit that I just talked about, and then there's this other reason where you can the principle being that you can learn all of this stuff in a variety of ways, online, self-study, blah, blah, blah.

So it means that you don't really need the qualification, I'm imagining. You couldn't really do that with law because essentially the job of being a lawyer or a plumber, you are absolutely in law precluded from doing that work. Unless you have that qualification. So you cannot rock up to somebody's house and say, yes, I am a plumber.

Unless you've got that piece of paper. There's obvious reasons for that. You are literally dealing with people's lives and the safety of their homes and so on. But I, if you don't have that qualification, you are not permitted to work. Same in law buildings a bit different. It's very deregulated in the uk so I, my understanding is that more or less anybody can.

A builder, you don't really need that qualification. I think it's more word of mouth and years of experience and all of those kind of things, but yeah, but whereas both you and I can attest to the fact that we did learn to be web. Builders, website, implementers, developers, whatever it might be. We, both of us did that completely off our own backs by buying books, by looking at YouTube videos, by reading online looking at magazines and so on and so forth.

So that route was possible. And in fact, if there had have been some sort of certification, In web design work, goodness knows what the industry would be like now because a whole bunch of people who've dropped into that industry more or less by accident wouldn't have strayed.

[00:10:30] David Waumsley: And we did it in a way that we didn't really know what we, who would be serving with what, . And I think that's still the difficulty as technology allows us to do much more what we can serve up. Artificial intelligence is obviously disrupting everything. Again, we're having to rethink, the very nature of search, which has been a very key thing to our industry because of it.

Yeah. So we couldn't imagine. Va. But I think, it's done a good job. It, it largely says the thing that we're saying here, it's so diverse with different specialties and subfields within it. It's difficult to get an all encompassing qualification for a website builder, which is a fairly generic term, which I gave it

[00:11:15] Nathan Wrigley: Do you think that do you think that as a client, so let's just say just random person phones you up, do you think. Any bit of them, which is looking for that kind of badge on your website to say, okay, I have the skills proven by sitting through an exam or going through some sort of body of study, what have you, because I never really got asked that question as I was saying to you before we hit record.

I did one time get a very blunt question, which was, can basically, can you technically do this? I want you to sign on the dotted line to say that you. Implement this. You are here by saying that nothing that we've talked about is out of scope and everything is achievable. But I've never had somebody saying, can you show me the certificate?

I don't think there was an expectation that there would be anything like that. You

[00:12:09] David Waumsley: not think we can del dilute ourselves a little bit here though, with this one? Because, if you were approaching a lawyer and you didn't see their certificates, do you think you might say that? Or the fact that you you wouldn't show up?

Would you just see what I mean? Yeah. It's they don't, you don't get fed back. The negatives as an opening. Gambit. Most of the time people just make a decision. They look, they say, no qualifications. I won't bother. I'll look for somebody who says they are

[00:12:36] Nathan Wrigley: qualified. Do you know, it's interesting because behind that sits a whole ton of society, doesn't it?

So in the example of a lawyer, you would imagine that nobody would have the gall to pretend to be a lawyer. Unless they actually were a lawyer and and they're gonna be found out in the end. So they'll go out of business. And you would imagine the same for plumbers. So if somebody shows up as my house and says, yes, I'm a plumber.

Yeah, you're right. I'm never saying show me the certificate. I'm just assuming that you can do it. My friends tell me that you can do what I need to do. Yeah. That's really interesting. No, I hadn't thought. . And also I

[00:13:12] David Waumsley: think that's part of the conversation. I feel there is a little bit of a need in us to feel like we wants qualifications and something to prove ourselves upfront, to separate ourselves from people who might just be chaning it.

In reality, just due to the nature of what we're dealing with, we're all chaning. It, aren't we really we all really don't know how it's gonna turn out.

[00:13:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. . Yeah. I do so in, in the reason that chat G p t gave it also Yeah. Said that, there's this whole variety of different ways to make it a, to make the proposition of certification difficult because there's so many different roots into this career.

And it said, making a standard certification process would. Difficult. Yeah, I think that's true. Whereas, again, taking the example of a plumber, I'm guessing that more or less every plumber has the exact same knowledge because the amount of knowledge required to do that I imagine can be taught in a constrained amount of time.

It's not really gonna change over time and everybody can do it. Whereas you, you imagine the difficult things. In this industry, you've gotta be a JavaScript expert. You might be moving into React, you might be using Laravel, you might be a CSS expert, and you certainly couldn't certify yourself against all of those things.

And also they're just confusing to a client. What typical client would come to you? As a freelancer, not as an agency. What typical freelance client would come to you and say, actually, can you. Can you just tell me about your experience with css? I'd like to know what level you would place yourself there.

Here's a couple of quiz questions for you. , it's, it just doesn't really happen that way, does it? The end result is all that they care about, and so I feel like the testimonial section on your website, the portfolio section on your website, in effect substitutes as a certifi. I asked

[00:15:07] David Waumsley: the question to chat g p t is, do you know of any qualifications I should look for if hiring someone to build me a website and I don't know, do you want to read out

[00:15:19] Nathan Wrigley: this?

Yeah. Okay. Yeah, so basically to paraphrase and honestly, this chat G p T thing is just. Breathtaking because yeah we may disagree with all of these, but just listen to how on-message they are, whether they're right or wrong is not really the point. So it says it's important to look for somebody with experience and knowledge in web development.

Okay, check. Agreed. Some key qualifications to look out may include, A degree in computer science or related field experience in building websites using various technologies such as html, css, and JavaScript. That's pretty smack in the middle of the target, isn't it? Knowledge of web design principles and best practices.

BLE experience using content management systems such as WordPress or droople. Ticks our box nicely, at least. Knowledge of search engine optimization principles, experience working with databases and server side technologies, strong problem solving and troubleshooting skills. There you go. And I wrote at the bottom, , I'm screwed.

[00:16:23] David Waumsley: it did add in though at the end here. Think this is key for me on in the same question it said. Additionally it can be helpful to look for someone who is able to communicate effectively and work well with others. Having a good working relationship with your website builder can make the process of building your website much smoother and more successful.

And I think actually that's probably key to everything

[00:16:46] Nathan Wrigley: for me. Do you know what, it's interesting that has not been added in as a bullet point that was just added in Yes. Almost like a, as an addendum, additionally, yes. Whereas I think my work over the years in this industry has led me to believe that really comes fairly high up the list.

Clearly if you cannot, if you can't demonstrate any skills in html, css, blah, blah, blah, then this is going nowhere. But I think that. A lot of the, a lot of that technological capability comes below that one the communicating effectively. Because, without that, as we've discussed in so many episodes before, without that, yeah, I know good working relationship, the whole thing breaks down.

But it's interesting that it noted that was a thing even.

[00:17:34] David Waumsley: Yeah. It'll turn out lots of really quite good answers. They are very generic and I suppose it explains it. Our question here today is a little bit silly but I thought we got a few talking points. One thing we probably should be asking is whether chat.

G PT with some AI voices should do the podcast from here on, cuz it does seem to pull stuff together in a more sensible way than we do. That genuinely

[00:18:00] Nathan Wrigley: would be hysterical. We should really think about doing that one time. Ask Chap g p t to script a podcast episode and either read it out or just do it.

That's a great idea. Yeah. Okay, so the talking points, do you want to go through those? . Yeah.

[00:18:17] David Waumsley: I just thought, there's a need on our part. Maybe. We don't know what clients think when they're looking at our, I guess if there was a well known qualification, that's what people would be looking for.

And even if they didn't know it, we can, I can see on, lawyers, the sites, the, this, and it sounds, reasonable. We don't have that, do we? And that's very different. We know there's a. Cowboys out there, and I've gotta be careful with that term. No, sexism is intended. Women are dodgy too.

Really dug

[00:18:50] Nathan Wrigley: that hole a

[00:18:51] David Waumsley: little bit deeper. ? No. No. But you know that, I think that's, about legitimizing stuff, that's one of those talking points. Let's go through some of these other ones here. Perhaps one of the things is that we're making the assumption there are no qualifications, but that's probably not entirely true because of all these subfields we can get qualified, can't we?

There will be. Yeah. If you've gone and done an a, a degree in graphic, You're going to have that to be able to show that you've got that visual presentation. If you've done some certifications to have learned a particular programming. Language. I think you probably can add that in. Yeah we have none of

[00:19:38] Nathan Wrigley: this do we?

No, but I guess we, okay. So firstly, I think maybe we should be mindful of the fact that we don't really know the current state of the landscape in terms of people entering university and going into some sort of Design and development course and coming out of that on the other side I don't know what it is that they're gonna be learning and what level they can claim to be on the backside of that, but I know there are web development courses available at, bonafide.

Official, if you like university, so it is a thing, but you and I entered it when it just wasn't a thing, and there was computer science available at universities, but there was no hint of web development or anything like that. And so there was no way of getting certified, although people were offering courses, there were tutorials, there were ways that you could learn this stuff and.

The qualifications that you got on the back end of it were just very anecdotal. You'd put a badge on your website to say I did this. But it really wasn't the level of, okay, this came from a certified body, like the university of some city. So yeah it's interesting.

I don't really know. where that, where the level stands at the moment. But it does feel like everything else, if you were to attend a university and get a bonafide qualification, it feels to me that is more about impressing an employer and less about impressing a client. Because really I'm thinking.

If you're going to university and you're gonna spend all that money, get yourself in debt to that level, you want to be coming out of there instantly trying to repay that debt with a well-paid job. So you're gonna be going into employment, not into freelancing. Again, caveat, I could be completely wrong about that.

Maybe loads of people are happy to give that a go, but it feels like the first port of call is, okay, I'll put in five years, 10 years, whatever, to pay off some of this debt at a, at an institution, and really, What this qualification is doing, it's getting me into the door for the first interview where I can then explain what I can do and hopefully over the years demonstrate that and then increase my skills and so on.

I remember

[00:22:00] David Waumsley: when I was first getting into this and the first podcast that was really talking. To web designers or developers was the Boag world. And yeah, I remember even at that time him talking about the difficulty of being able to, they needed to recruit people and they really couldn't, even though there were new courses that were setting up that would talk about web development because of the nature of the education, so with degrees, the syllabus needs to be set years in advance to be able to follow through.

So it really. Serving its needs. People who would go through this course would be out of touch. So there didn't seem a degree option that seemed to be working. And I think this is a general a flow of things anyway. In the modern world, I think more people go and do degrees, so they're less valuable.

And I think more employers realize that having a degree isn't a very good sifting process, if you like in terms of getting the best skills to their organization. So people like large employers like Google will do their own testing. And really. On the basis of what they see with all this kind of problem solving this set for people.

So I think, maybe instead of my whole, whole thinking is that we should perhaps reverse it. The fact that we, there are no qualifications. The fact there is nothing agile enough to qualifiers and certifiers and regulator is probably just the way the world is going anyway, in many areas of life.

It's not Go, sorry. Yeah. I was a degree probably isn't such an indicator Yeah. Of talent. Yeah.

[00:23:36] Nathan Wrigley: I was talking to a chap the other day who is behind one of the WordPress LMS systems. And LMS is a learning management system, and he was talking about the fact that over the recent, past five years or so, but specifically during covid.

There has been this move towards self-education and self certifying. Oh, that basically means that you take that debt onto yourself, I'm gonna learn, I'm gonna prove myself. And so there's a whole load of companies that have come in on the back of that and have set up courses.

And whilst they can't have any air quotes, I'm doing air quotes. S there can't be any necessarily universal authority behind that. The idea is and I've gotta be clear about this. This is not just about web development. It's literally everything across the, the universe.

You could certify yourself against anything. So just that point's clear. This seems to be the way that it's going for these WordPress LMSs. Anyway, there, there's a ground swell of, okay, I know I can teach this thing. I'm gonna teach this thing and at the end of it you will be able to do what I'm saying you can do, but there's no, I can give you a badge, but whether or not that counts for anything is not really the point.

The point really is more you've gained the knowledge. You can now go out there and claim to do it confidently. And it does seem that there is a move away from the bricks and mortar universities, more to this self-managed learning. And a lot of the universities are implementing this as well. They're.

Them putting classes online where traditionally they might have been you got to attend and sit in a lecture hall or what have you. And it just seems to be going in that direction, so self certifying. But yeah, I dunno whether that adds to the conversation today or not, but it's an interesting trend.

[00:25:38] David Waumsley: No. And I think it's there. I remember a long time ago, there's a book by Daniel Pink and I forgot what's called now. Maybe Drive. And it really talks about the fact that we all have a drive to learn and improve ourselves. So it to a large degree, we regulate ourselves, we do self-certify ourselves in the skills.

Everybody has this desire to do this and. It's moved things, so you would generally think it was a sort of left wing proposition that if you let employers do their own thing, they will work if you take the money off the table and not try and incentivize in a way that people will just try to work to the best they can.

In anything but the very lowest of skills. People will just work hard on that one. And I think, you know that, yeah, it's big right wing institutions, if you like, that have adopted this change in the way that we view workers and and their motivations. Actually, I think the Daniel Pink book is about motivation, but anyway, it's, yeah I see this general move, so yeah, it definitely goes along with what you are saying there.

[00:26:45] Nathan Wrigley: If we were. Propose that there was a general WordPress, let's just go to WordPress as opposed to web development. If there was a general WordPress certification process, I wonder what that would even look like. So the first question would be who's behind it? Yeah. Who is the body that's stamping the qualification to say yes?

I hereby state categorically that Nathan and David sat down on this day in history and after a two hour test, were able to prove that they were hopeless. But yeah. Who would that be? Who would we put in charge of that? Would it be. I don't know. Would it be automatic? Would it be a conglomeration of interested parties in the WordPress ecosystem?

In other words, funded by hosting companies, funded by SEO companies, funded by what have you, and, they'd get together, put together this curriculum, come up with some qualification criteria, put together the learning materials, and then finally test people on the other end. I don't know if testing.

Necessary. Should you go through it? I don't know, but let's imagine that it is. Who would we even trust with? Yeah, I

[00:28:04] David Waumsley: don't think we could. And I think that's one of the difficulties of WordPress, although it's this kind of open source system, which is everybody's, it does have commercial interest behind it.

And and in that way, I don't think it can do something in perhaps the way that, so one point I did put a talking point is the fact that in some way we do have. Standards, even if we can't get qualified by them. We do have the the W three C Yep. That is set in web standards and although there's no way to really go along with that, and there are other things when it comes to perhaps the UX and ui, we have.

Some important thought leaders who have been around with expertise, like the Norma Nielsen group and stuff like that. . So we, we can, but I can't see how that could happen in WordPress as it is something that you make into your own. I dunno how anyone could really do it.


[00:28:58] Nathan Wrigley: right.

Because if you think about what, okay, so let's say you've got a brand new WordPress website and it's completely vanilla. You've downloaded it from WordPress dot. , honestly, you could learn everything there is to know about that in a fairly short amount of time. Yeah. Because WordPress by itself doesn't do as much as all of the plugins and the themes bring to bear.

Yes. So having this idea of, okay, I'm a certified word. , website builder, developer, whatever. I realize that I've just really undersold WordPress. I know it's very complicated and there's an awful lot going on, but I imagine that somebody would be able to learn that in a relatively short space of time if they were committed.

The complexity comes in when you add all of the other bits and pieces on top off, so you know, you might be expert in using a part. Implementation of a page builder or something like that. And so this is where it gets muddy. There, there is, there really isn't one WordPress that you can put your finger on and say, okay, you, you are good at WordPress.

You are a level three word presser. , and you, sir, are a level four. Because you can do this other thing. I don't know. It's really difficult, and actually now that I think about it, if you went down that road, potentially quite damaging because it feels to me that, if you got to level four you, I wonder if there's a tendency to look down on the, the level threes and it might make the community a little bit less.

Yeah, I dunno. A little bit less friendly. You can imagine people at Word Camp going around with their big level four badge stock on their t-shirt, and what have you. ,

[00:30:38] David Waumsley: I, there's a lot that WordPress offers in the sense of, you can show your credentials a little bit if you've, done a talk or you've helped in the.

And lots of people are very proud of the fact that they've worked on the new update in core or something like that. And their names are listed. They've they're accredited, aren't they, with these kind of things.

[00:31:01] Nathan Wrigley: Suppose that's there, yeah. Yeah. You get your badges on your.org profile for all myriad of reasons.

Just as an aside, nothing that you or I do would qualify. Be being interested in the community and putting. Content in the WordPress computing, none of that would ever qualify, nor do I actually think it should. I'm just making the point. But yeah, but I, I don't know whether any of that would be something that an employer would look at.

I think a tiny subset of employers would look at that. And they would be the people who want to show their credentials in the WordPress space. So let's say X hosting company who wants to make it clear that they're really keen on committing to WordPress. They might be interested in. Okay, great.

You have committed to core, you are really keen on helping at Word camps. That's brilliant. But I would imagine that most, like 90 plus percent of clients, Would say, why are you showing me this page? What does that badge mean? ? Yeah, exactly. But it's great for the community, don't get me wrong. Brilliant for the community, but I'm not sure if it's gonna help you get a typical job.

Oh, you set off so

[00:32:18] David Waumsley: many things in me there. One, one of the things is that what matters to the clients there, and I find it quite interesting, certainly when people want some seo or they're thinking about AdWords, something like Google certified, which you can be with AdWords. I think from what I understand with clients, really it's a, something they understand who Google are.

They're a big authority in the world on this one. So if they're Google certified in AdWords, then they must be much more trustworthy. Really, in reality, it does mean they've done some training, but ultimately their job is to make money for Google, so they're perhaps not necessarily the best person for the client.

Yeah. They're not gonna make N not, they might not necessarily make Google work the hardest to, for, their ad spend. But

[00:33:02] Nathan Wrigley: Say that some of the hosting, sorry, not hosting, say that some of the SEO companies in WordPress got together, or even just one of them. And I'm sure some names are moving around in your head at the moment and decided we are going to offer an accreditation.

Would that have any level of trust, do you think? So again, we're not talking about WordPress specifically here. We're straying into an area, a subset of. Working with WordPress and that's seo. Yeah. Would you think clients would trust that, okay, here's a qualification that's come from a conglomerate of WordPress companies who've invested back into their bit of the community to qualify people and certify people.

Would, do you think employees would like that or would end users, clients like that? Would it be worth it for the companies involved? I suspect if it was worth it for them, they would've done all these. A long time ago. .

[00:33:59] David Waumsley: Yeah. And also, I think at the end of the day, all of these qualifications and whether they're accepted is all pretty much about the marketing, what you've been able to establish in terms of whether that is of any worth to people.

So I, I guess we couldn't ever answer that. One thing that did cross my mind about WordPress certificate. Cause I've got through something which has made me quite proud. I've just recently built my own theme and. . The thing is, I'm no good with php, so things like artificial intelligence is helping me to write some of the things that I need to go into that theme.

And I was thinking if you did try and test me on this, technically it would be a good sign because I understand the architecture of a WordPress theme, which makes me understand it, the old version, and at least I. Basically understand how you make a blocks theme as well. But in reality, if I was to sit a test doing that, it wouldn't know whether I was using, if I was cheating basically.

Yeah, the whole thing. Yeah. So I, yeah, no. In fact, that's probably one of the other challenges and we'll talk about this, I think the next time we're talking about AI and how it threatens us. But I notice with chat pt sorry, G P T, gt , coming out there, there have been some professors who have challenged their students to write their next essay using it, and I, we are hearing reports back on people just not being able to distinguish it from a real student's work and stuff.

So yeah. I think this is another challenge to the whole certification thing, particularly as we move more to distance learning.

[00:35:36] Nathan Wrigley: I wonder if it's less of a challenge, I wonder if it presents an opportunity because let's say for example that you rock up and you've got a portfolio full of work and nobody knows how that work.

Created whether it was created by, a page builder template that you just clicked and imported and then modified some text, or it was created, let's say five years into the future by a bunch of AI generated generating tools. If you could sit down and say, no, I literally sat this exam and we were in isolated conditions.

I had to write everything from scratch to, to satisfy the examiners that. Could do this. I wonder if that's gonna be in the future, a real. A real boost because suddenly you are employing somebody who can provably do something. Yes. As opposed to who can provably go out and click a button on a chat and get the answer and download it.

The thing is in this industry, so long as the end result is achieved, it's not really that important, is it? I remember, I actually, years and years ago, I went for a job interview, an actual job interview. This is going back ages, and they asked me to solve a a puzzle with P H p and I remember thinking to myself I could sit here for the next hour.

And work it out, or I could just Google it cuz Google existed. And so I Googled it and said, look, there's the answer, but I've just Googled it. And they were actually like, yeah, that's what we would've done.

I love it because what's the point? The, what they wanted to see was who's gonna get there in the quickest amount of time? And by doing. Just nicking it off Google and checking yeah. Does that work? Yeah. That's all fine. That'll work. There you go. There's the answer. They were like, okay.

Yeah, that's fine. . Yeah, exactly. I didn't get the job, by the way. . Oh, ,

[00:37:39] David Waumsley: okay. Oh, but yeah, I think it's. it. It's interesting cause you asked me to just go and have a check. You said it might be a good idea just to look at how people get around not having the qualifications, what they focus on in agencies or freelancers and stuff.


[00:37:55] Nathan Wrigley: can I just add some context to that? Because we don't have qualifications, it occurred to me before we hit record that. We must be trying to sell ourselves. And if we don't have a badge, an official plumber's badge to say we are bonafide, then we must be going through it in other ways.

Because essentially the certification process is about saying, trust me, I can do it. So we need to be able to say, trust me, I can do it in a whole variety of ways. And typically I think that's nice looking website. Some good copy. Here's a bunch of here's a portfolio page with my previous projects and here's a bunch of testimonials.

So that, that was the thinking behind there. My without certification, how are people doing it? And so you went off and browsed around and found a few examples and go for it. Yeah.

[00:38:47] David Waumsley: All I did was I just looked really, I think I looked, took the number one that appeared for me in Google when I asked for a web agency in London, and then I did the same in New York.

And quite surprising with both of those, because they were both page builders, WP Bakery, quite old page builders, and they built most of their sites and they were the number ones and they. Their texts were their text was just basically stuff that you might expect AI to write. Really, that's what we noticed.

It was a kind of a general lot of waffle about being award-winning and creative and that, it's solutions they talked about and that kind of stuff. So it was quite surprising.

[00:39:30] Nathan Wrigley: And it was very boilerplate, the language, wasn't it? Yes, it was. What got them to, number one in Google wasn't really, Anything surpri.

It was a real just laundry list of reused and recycled tropes. Award-winning creative branding. We use key marketing principles, , these kind of phrases, which to me, when you actually look at it, with a careful bit of inspection, don't actually say a great deal, but they sound.

[00:40:01] David Waumsley: Yeah, I mean it just, to me it all sounds like just waffle.

And interestingly about both of these that were doing well, they were similar. Both WP Bakery, as I've mentioned, both of them seem to have accessed free images on the web, which I recognize. Been in the industry, but I guess, regularly the users may not spot that. And there were all sorts of things.

One had an accessibility overlay over the top of it. Something which, you know, yes, accessibility experts don't really like these days and that kind of stuff. And it was really interesting then to contrast that with the first one that came up when I was searching for a London freelancer, and this was a guy who just introduced himself, said, Freelance web designer and front end developer with blah blah years of experience working with clients in London.

[00:40:47] Nathan Wrigley: So it would appear that a whole bunch of different people are trying to rise to the top with a whole bunch of different language and it doesn't really feel like, yeah, their marketing themselves. As if certification mattered. Really what they're trying to sell is that they are able to do things. They've got all these keywords, jazzy keywords, marketing principles where digital pros, blah, blah blah, cutting edge technologies, top-notch service, and all of these kind of things.

It's as almost as if. Nobody needs any certification because not anybody appears to be mentioning it anywhere. I wonder if we did that survey more thoroughly and went to 500 websites and really drilled down. I wonder if they would. On their bios and things like that, say, I've got this qualification and that qualification.

But having looked at these websites over the years, I don't really remember anybody begging up their qualifications in terms of certifications, more qualifications in terms of, I did five years here, two, two years here. I'm a, I've worked with this kind of technology and this kind of technology.

It's just self certification really. Yeah, exactly.

[00:41:59] David Waumsley: So I guess, Topic, to wrap it up and come up with our answer. I've already said it. I guess what is, I don't answer in our own question really about whether we need certification or the statement that's saying we should. I disagree with it ultimately, and I think we should actively embrace.

That the web is just I wrote here my kind of words on it was the day that I think we're happy with a certified and governing way of building websites is probably the day for better or worse, when the web stops being the revolutionary. Globalizing development that it is, and I think that's what we bring to the table.

So no one procedural body is likely to be agile enough to be able to serve us. And so we should perhaps

[00:42:48] Nathan Wrigley: embrace that. Yeah, I agree. I think you went on to make a further point that there are certain sub fields within the broader web industry where certification's really gonna matter cuz it's provable.

It might be that you've got a degree. Visual design or a particular coding language. But because this is a WordPress podcast, we're thinking more spec, more broadly about WordPress. I agree. I think the soft skills that you mentioned earlier, communication and so on, I think they, they're the things that really matter.

And obviously your ability to churn out work and keep yourself employed, create that testimonials page, get that portfolio page. They seem to be the things that matter more. And you're right, if everybody's chasing the same certifi, , maybe the creativity would disappear out of the web. People will be afraid to step outside the bounds, especially in those younger years when you're a little bit more unlikely to conform.

You wanna push the boundaries a little bit more. If all those young people are changing the exact same qualification, maybe it'll be, yeah, worse for the. And I think at a

[00:43:58] David Waumsley: high level of qualifications when we talk about masters and PhDs and all that, in order to step up that kind of level, you become like experimental scientists.

And I think we should see ourselves in that way. It is probably honors not to claim to know the outcomes as experts, but rather to be like scientists would put forward controlled hypothe. To test. So when somebody's coming with a website, we don't know how that's gonna pan out. We'll do all of these things.

We'll take the best knowledge we've got out there and we'll work together to do it. And I think in a way that's its own qualifications. When you do a PhD in something, you may pass that on a certain body because someone's who's an expert in that. But what comes with it is not an expected outcome or a knowledge is you awarded it for the ability to be able to think outside the box and c.

and I think that's what we can bring to the table.

[00:44:49] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Okay. So for us at least anyway, it is a bit of a, no, we're not convinced that we need to be certified. And maybe that's just because neither of us have any qualifications. take it with a pinch of salt, I should say, right at the top of our show notes.

Before we before we end this episode, I will. In our show notes to something called certified wp, which is a, an initiative to launch WordPress, centralizing organization and certifications. But it's got a very specific use case and in this case it's all to do with returning veterans in the us.

So I'll link to that and you can see whether or not that's a route that you think is worth looking at. Yeah. Great. Okay. So next time. Yeah, go on.

[00:45:38] David Waumsley: I think we, I dunno what we'll call it exactly, but a AI can, it replaces. I think we've gotta talk about that now cuz it's the topic of the day,

[00:45:46] Nathan Wrigley: isn't it?

Honestly, I think this topic's gonna be really interesting. Ai, can it replace us? Just a handful of months ago, I would've said a very different answer to what I'm gonna say in that episode. So we'll see. All right. I'll see you in a couple of weeks.

[00:46:00] David Waumsley: Okay, lovely. Thanks.

[00:46:01] Nathan Wrigley: I hope that you enjoyed that.

Always a pleasure chatting with David Wamsley. I hope you enjoy the new series, the Thinking, the Unthinkable series. We're gonna refer to it as tot, maybe we'll take that as a Twitter hashtag or something. Anyway, this was all about being certified. Perhaps you agree, perhaps you disagree. Whatever the case go to.

Check it out on the WP Builds.com website. Search for episode number 3 1 3 313, and you can leave as a comment there or in our Facebook group, wP Builds.com/facebook. You could start some thread there as well.

The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me/WPBuilds. And again, very sincere thanks to GoDaddy Pro for their continuing ongoing of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay, don't forget, page Builder, summit Registration is now open. Page builder summit.com. Join us for five days, get on that wait list and we will keep you updated of all of the things that are happening. Completely free event running from the 20th to the 24th of February. I hope you have a good week.

We'll be back next week this time with an interview. Stay safe, cheesy music fading in. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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  1. Interesting points you got there. I’m not inclined to get certified in wordpress, but am certified in communication, design, law and various other things. From my standpoint, it’s more important to have knowledge and experience of various industries and how they work, as well as a thorough knowledge of wordpress. Bits of paper can indicate how well one passes tests, but not how well one builds …

    • I know what you mean. I’ve not got any certs in anything, but I’m perhaps a little grey-haired to worry about that too much now. It was all about word of mouth for me, but I can see that this might be useful for people just starting out.

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