Full Stack Developer —
Web UI Dev Education

I identified a critical need for improved web UI development skill in the company. Developed a series of web seminars and a syllabus of self-study online education for HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Dojo, jQuery, REST, Ajax, and other web development technologies. Created online community and mentor program including CTOs, Distinguished Engineers, and IBM Fellows. Designed a three-tier certification program to measure progress – over 400 certifications completed by participants in 14 Divisions across 27 countries.

Process and Results

1. Identified UI coding skills problem

Once a design gets past the mockup stage, and especially in agile projects, a lack of good UI development skills can become a bottleneck to delivery. As the importance of UI design has increased in visibility, our UX teams have often been frustrated by slow implementation or pushback on the feasibility of designs. Having spent years convincing the executive team of the importance of the UI, we were now faced with the problem of ensuring the organization had the skills to implement great designs. This led to our proposal for a UI development education series.

2. Proposed education series

The solution we proposed for improving UI development skills was an education series backed up by executive support for the UI developer career path. Our kickoff included key executives speaking to the importance of the UI and the opportunity for developers. We outlined the skills required for new UI technologies and introduced a series of speakers and workshops to help developers obtain those skills. The kickoff was attended by over 1200 team members.

3. Assembled self-study resources

While there were some self-study resources available internally, I expanded our search to the external web to find the best and most up to date websites, blogs, videos, and interactive tutorials. I previewed all of the material and vetted the content with experts throughout the company. Finally, I cataloged and categorized the material and organized it into three levels: foundation, practitioner, and advanced.

4. Self-study: Foundation

The foundation section I developed focused on basic skills and awareness of technologies that are important to web UI development. This was a starting point for developers with skills in Java or other programming languages, but unfamiliar with web technologies. Each topic included several links to different types of resources: books, websites, videos, tutorials.

5. Self-study: Practitioner

The practitioner section required students to get hands-on experience with the technologies they learned in the foundation section and begin to learn about new concepts like RESTful web services. It also required some experience with performance, security, and browser debugging tools.

6. Self-study: Advanced

The advanced section looked at the latest (at the time) standards in UI development. I included topics in HTML5 and CSS3, special topics in Dojo and other languages and scripting libraries like PHP, Spring, Groovy, and jQuery. The other requirement for advanced participants was delivery of code as part of a product, but that led into requirements for the certification program.

7. Designed certification program

I worked with IBM Education partners to define requirements for a certification program. The certification was a way for participants to get recognition for education and work they had completed. The foundation and practitioner levels required signoff from a manager while the advanced level required completing a product-level delivery and supervision and sign-off by a mentor.

8. Organized mentor program

I created our online community using Lotus Connections, including pages for all the self-study resources, files for hands-on workshops, and a forum for questions and discussion. It was also where we listed the 35 mentors recruited from top UI experts across the company. The mentors were available to all participants for career advice, UI project review, contacts, and approval of advanced certification.

9. Gathered participant feedback

The talks and hands-on sessions were presented by internal experts in each of the topic areas and attended by an average of 1000 participants. The great attendance and high satisfaction ratings of participants were testament to the great need for and success of the UI Development Education Series.