During our national web competition, we ask judges to provide comments as they review entries. We then summarize those comments and place them here for reference in future competitions. We do not provide comments to individual teams; however, we have accumulated the following general observations from our judges for our 2018 national web competition. Overall, teams did quite well and adjusted to the new format (reading an API). We will be using a similar approach in 2019. Therefore, competitors may wish to review these comments prior to that competition. We have arranged these comments into areas of focus. These do not exactly match the judging rubric (and we did this on purpose as said rubric changes periodically).

Interview comments

It is great to say “we work as a team” when asked why someone should consider hiring you. However, very few teams actually displayed this behavior. If you work well as a team, you should be finishing each other’s sentences. Our judges did not see much of that behavior. It would be great for teams to provide more beliefs and examples (instead of the pat “we work well together” answer).

Our judges observed many teams explained their process in detail, but mention how they would learn about the business in question. How does the business work? What is the history of the business? Those sorts of questions can differentiate you from the competition. Our judges also observed limited strategies for testing or for after site launch. These are critical in today’s work environment.

When a team is being interviewed, it is great to share your passion. However, have specific stories as to how working in the industry has directly affected your life. Don’t just have a solid understanding of industry statistics and job growth opportunities.

When asked about favorite websites, there was a clear split between user experience and user interface elements. Competitors should provide specific examples and relate these to how they can help with a client’s website.

Coding and development comments

CSS – understand the @font-face rules. Always define fonts for your sites; do not default to the browser or a generic sans-serif.

Set image width and height in CSS.

HTML – well done on those who created HTML code which validated. It is always a good idea to include comments in your HTML and CSS.

Always add a language attribute to the html tag.

Make certain you properly code the action= attribute on a form tag.

Make certain your tags are properly nested. For example, if you start a list, make sure all tags (such as <li> </li>) are nested properly. Make certain you close open tags properly. For example, don’t attempt to close a <h1> tag with </h2>.

Understand which tags can be nested within others. For example, don’t nest a <h1> tag within a <span> tag.

JS – always put your JavaScript in a separate file; don’t embed it in the single HTML page.

Be careful if you change the proportions of images when resizing. It is easy to make the images appear stretched or squashed, if you are not careful.

Work Order comments

If a client provides you with specific hex or rgb colors, use them.

There is no need for the team to put their name in the files. Judges prefer only team numbers.

There was no need to use any templates to build the pages requested on the work order.

Several teams also stated music playing as soon as their page loaded. This is never a good idea. People may open a page in a work environment and not realize their speakers are on. Always give visitors a choice to listen to audio.

Accessibility comments

It is very difficult to read light text on a light background (or a very busy background).

Information architecture comments

Never use spaces in your folder or file names. If you must use multiple words, separate them with a hyphen, not a space.

When defining ARIA attributes, properly code them (for example role=”region”). Judges observed a number of mistakes in the coding of ARIA roles.

Overall comments

As mentioned above, most teams did well adjusting to the new format. It is important to read and verify you understand the supplied work order. Many teams missed points because they did not focus on the details provided in the work order. If there are questions, it is important to ask them during the competition. One should never make assumptions when the client is readily available.

We encourage everyone to review their entries in light of the above comments. Some will apply; some will not.We provide these to help individuals improve. We look forward to seeing many return to our 2019 competition. We will begin planning that in another couple of months.