A new code of practice to be released by the Web Designers' Association of New Zealand (WDNZ) is being described by the body's founder as a first step in setting standards in an industry with a "huge" future.
Dave Blyth, of the Auckland firm Webdesign says the fact the Web design business lacks any agreed standards "is a big problem, because there are cowboys out there - a lot of them - and a lot of them are in for the quick buck. The future of this industry is huge, there's no doubt about that, and the people who set themselves up for the longer term will do better in the end."
WDNZ was founded more than a year ago and in that time has attracted a couple of dozen mostly smaller member companies, although Xtra and The Press Online have joined up. The notable absences are the two corporate-strength Web development firms, Clearfield and Webmasters.
"We've just begun discussion with them," says Blyth. "In the past, the larger Web companies probably have not seen the need to associate with the smaller firms because they're doing okay themselves.
"But things are changing and we're trying to get standards in. People start asking 'are you a member of this organisation?'. Eventually we'd hope to have something like a master builder qualification, or some indication that a company has proved it can do work to a certain standard.
"At the moment, there are no formal qualifications for Web design, but e are talking with FAEM, who set the standards for qualifications. The problem is the industry moves so fast that if they set standards for universities and techs to follow, we'll have moved on by the time they're in place."
The Code of Practice itself should not prove problematic for existing of prospective WDNZ members. It calls on members to advance the knowledge and proficiency of the profession through continuing research and education" and to deal fairly with clients and fellow professionals.
A list is given relevant legislation for professionals - including the Privacy Act, the Fair Trading Act and the Copyright Act and the Code explains how these are relevant to Web designers.
WDNZ members are also to be "encouraged to use voluntary ratings systems to signal site content of an adult nature, except where such ratings systems would undermine principles of free speech."
WDNZ's Website is at: http://www.wdnz.org.nz