Professional web designers and developers need to be highly skilled technologically in terms of being able to understand programming and software issues in order to be able design compelling websites. However, website development often requires the use of specialist programs for front and back end applications. For a small agency, equipping developers with the skills that they need can be an ongoing battle.
At one point, the only option was to send employees on specialised training courses, which can be expensive and a drain on productivity as employees must be out of the office. That is problematic enough for large companies, but may be out of the reach of small, micro organisations with just a handful of employees.
Another reason for the lack of success of formal training programmes is that the material is often forgotten, unless the information gained can be put to practical use on a day-to-day basis. A rule of thumb is that attendees only remember 10% of the information given to them when listening to a presentation. In a training environment, estimates vary, but the average attention span is known to be short, with some estimates putting it as low as 10 minutes.
Online training can be much more effective—not just in terms of cost, but also in terms of in terms of how much the pupil retains, especially where training can be broken down into bite-sized pieces that can be followed at the trainee’s own pace. As a result, various studies, including one by the US Department of Education, show that online training can be considerably more effective than traditional methods.
But another benefit of online training is that it can be provided in a more interactive manner, including through use of web-based applications that allow collaboration with others online. For large organisations, this can mean having access to internal resources with relevant expertise through internally developed programmes.
But small companies have fewer options and must generally rely on the vendor that develops the software on which they want their developers trained or one of their designated partners to provide that training—often for a fee. For small companies operating in the web design and development space, the WebsiteSpark package provides free online training in the form of videos, podcasts and webcasts, as well as access to the MSDN Customer Service Center that provides access to a community of some 6 million experts throughout the world who can provide answers to specific queries.
The MSDN Customer Service Center also provides access to newsgroups and forums, where developers can ask specific questions of their peers who may have encountered similar issues or problems. Such forums provide an excellent add on to initial training programmes and can help developers remain productive whilst continuing to learn all the features of key applications and programmes.
Through access to such services, provided for free, small web development organisations will be in a better position to reduce costs yet benefit from access to all-important training and support.
As website development continues to evolve in sophistication and complexity, not only do those providing services need access to the best, most up-to-date tools, but they also need to be able to come up to speed quickly on how to use them and will benefit from access to the wide range of online resources that is available in the WebsiteSpark package.