It’s nice to see more and more companies investing in their web sites. Despite the poor economic news around the world, web site design and marketing help is still in high demand. What’s lacking are people who know how to do it.
Before your feathers get too ruffled up, yes. You do know what to do. Most of you know how to do at least PART of the job. Many of you work for companies with staffs that put teams on a project. And you still have to sub-contract out for additional help with things like user experience design, or integrated marketing assistance, or meeting accessibility and mobile design requirements. Your company either had no idea these areas would be needed to build an online presence, or they were too cheap and ignored requests to hire skilled employees.
For someone to be, what I call a “holistic, well rounded web developer”, the list of skills would look nothing like what I see in job sites. They never say, “Must be qualified in or show working knowledge of the following”:
- 1. Program in any language our client(s) want to use or that we use in our company
- 2. HTML5 and younger; CSS3, younger and future versions
- 3. Organic SEO
- 4. Search engine marketing practices such as PPC, AdWords, etc.
- 5. May need to know some “black hat” techniques (hey, just being honest)
- 6. Usability standards/heuristics
- 7. User centered design/engineering
- 8. Persuasive/conversion design
- 9. Accessibility (Section 508 and PAS78 standards) or basics
- 10. Use Photoshop, Macromedia, and related tools and software
- 11. Information architecture/taxonomies for SEO
- 12. Information architecture/taxonomies for UX
- 13. Create wireframes/mockups
- 14. Gather and write Business and Functional Site Requirements
- 15. User testing
- 16. Software QA testing for functionality and usability
- 17. Performance Engineering
- 18. Have exceptional writing skills
- 19. Have exceptional business, management and communication skills
- 20. Social media marketing/networking
- 21. Content building and beneficial and non-spammy linking
- 22 Understand hosting, domains, DB setup, DNS
- 23. Mobile device design
- 24. Data analytics and tracking
Bonus for hire: Be willing to work your freaking self off for what we can afford to pay you.
This is what’s needed to build, maintain and market a web site in today’s Internet-driven business and social world. No one individual should be expected to do all the things on the list and be fully qualified, but the more exposure to opportunities on the job to learn, plus more specialized training, increases the likelihood of creating these sorely needed people. Incredibly, some of the biggest and most well known companies in the world that do business via the Web are missing entire departments, and certainly employees trained in the skills from the list above, such as Usability Software QA Testing or Usability/Mobile/Accessible Design. Some of the E-commerce sites consumers purchase from have never had a usability audit and mobile purchasing isn’t even in their business requirements.
Smaller companies suffer the most by not knowing what to hire help for or what companies to hire at all. Looking at the list above, many site owners will not understand what some of the criteria means, let alone hire out for it. Some people still believe or insist that just one person can do all those things. I don’t know of anyone who can. I know many who come quite close and it’s because they have over a decade of experience and they keep up with trends.
The United States sorely lacks women in IT. This has gone unchanged since I worked in IT in the 1990′s. This concerns me because US companies hire skilled help from outside the country because both men and women are better educated in Technologies, Math and Science elsewhere. Rather than investing in training employees and letting them advance in their careers here, companies think they’ll save money by hiring cheaper help or not getting the proper skilled help they need at all.
I’ve received a surprising number of requests for web designers to do site redesigns or implement design changes after UX audits are performed. These companies and site owners are looking for people with better and broader skills because what they have presently isn’t working out for them. Interestingly, they won’t invest in training for their own people and will sub-contract for what they need, which is more expensive. Understandably, training can be expensive. There’s an enormous need for affordable training such as workshops, seminars and webinars.
The final reality is that owning any web site with big plans for branding and conversions is expensive and an on-going investment. No one person can do it all, nor should they be expected to (and certainly not without fair compensation.) There are areas of concern, such as a lack of skilled people to hire and the sheer cost of paying those that do have well rounded skills.
- What do you need to help you grow in your careers?
- Web designers…do you feel you should have some knowledge of online marketing or is that a separate thing altogether from your design interests?
- Companies….what areas of help do you lack? What prevents you from hiring or expanding? Do you sub-contract?
- Any other thoughts?
We’d love to hear from you!