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Is It Time to Put the Days of the Wild West Behind Us?

There’s no doubt that WordPress as a platform, and the community around it, is maturing.

This year we witnessed its 10th birthday. One of the amazing things about it was to see all of the photos of people celebrating at meetups and other gatherings from all corners of the globe. For me, it really did bring to the fore the fact that we are part of a global community.

30,000 people completed the annual survey. WordPress powers nearly 20% of the web. You’ve seen these statistics already from this year’s State of the World. My point? It’s big!

And it’s only getting bigger. I believe it’s time for WordPress—as a platform and community—to start doing things that reflect its status in the digital world.

Get Certified!

It’s time for us to start a debate about certification. Then we can start taking the steps toward doing something about it. Take a look around at some of the other tools and platforms that many of us use:

• Google Analytics
• Google Adwords
• Salesforce
• Microsoft Office

All of these platforms offer certification. And here’s what I think is the important part: the certification is administered by the company that’s behind the product.

Sure, I could start up a business around certifying a WordPress developer or an end user…but many in the community would not take that seriously. “Who’s this guy?” “Where is Australia anyway?”

I believe that the way to make WordPress certification legitimate in the eyes of the community is for it to be done by Automattic, or at least an organization set up by Automattic specifically to do the job.

Why Do I Think This is So Important?

I am one of the founders of a WordPress agency in Sydney. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve sat through this phone call:

Caller: “I really need your help, I’ve had a developer start to build my site and it just all gone wrong.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Who was it that’s been working on it?”

Caller: “A friend of my sister. He’s said he could do it and it would only cost $500 so it sounded like a good deal.”

I know I’m not unique. Matt Medeiros from Matt Report talks about this all the time. One of his points is that service providers should represent themselves correctly… “Don’t say you’re a designer if that’s not the case.”

Think about it like this: If you go to get your car serviced, you don’t give it to some guy who likes to play around with cars. You go to a mechanic’s workshop because you know that he’s qualified at what the sign says on the door.

So why should we, WordPress professionals, be any different?

It’s Not Just About Developers

While certifying a developer is the obvious place to start, I don’t think it’s the only focus.

In the list of services above, the last one, Microsoft Office, is there for a reason. Anyone can put on their résumé that they are a Microsoft Office guru but it looks so much better if you demonstrate that you’re a certified user of the tools.

Until I was doing a bit of research for this post I had no idea that it was even available. If I was interviewing candidates for a job and MS Office was a tool that I wanted the user to be skilled at, the fact that they’re certified would make a big difference. What’s more, it would demonstrate to me that they are motivated to go out and get that certification to develop their own skills.

I am often looking for WordPress skilled people (not just developers) and would be very happy to be able to sort people by the fact that they have or have not completed some sort of  recognized WordPress certification.

So What Do You Think?

I’d love to see this topic gets some focus. Then, as a community, we can do something about it. So why not start the debate right here!

• What are your thoughts on certification?
• Would you do it?
• Do you agree that something done by Automattic would be the right thing?

Please let us know what you think about these questions in the comments section below!


petershillingYou can find Peter Shilling on Twitter @PShilling.

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