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The difference between designers and developers --> or, how to market your job posting correctly

Over at my nonprofit tech jobs listserv at NTEN, when I look at certain tech jobs posted, I'm always interested in the way that they are structured: like, "we want a web designer and developer" which, to me, is like asking for a "plumber electrician".

I think we as a community can do our part to educate the outside world on the different functions related to the web-based information-sharing process and to understand that there are different job descriptions based on different parts of the process.

For example,

A) one job is a "communicator" or "web editor" or "content provider" --> someone who can create content, write, research, connect with people, network, and who can be basically someone who creates new content that matches your org's marketing and/or communications department. This is like a public-facing role.

B) another job is "data entry" for someone who is simply converting Word documents into CSS or who is doing copy and paste into your existing content management system--- they can be somebody who just does CSS/HTML and they don't need to be able to do new research or writing.

C) a web manager (or webmaster, or what have you) would be someone who can make your system function as a whole and who can either assign or who can manage different requests ---> turn them into pages and posts. This person may or may not be a public-facing person ---> in general, I think they are more of a "techie" type person meaning they would prefer to be on the computer not on the phone.

D) your web programmer/coder/developer is someone who lives, eats, breathes code. They definitely want to be left alone to deal with the issues related to your overall content structure and they want to deal with new programming problems and solutions. Not good with rote work or routine--> good with a new challenge or idea or function to enable. They would prefer not to go into Photoshop and create a new button for you.

E) your web designer does design --> they make things beautiful, they speak the language of font and typography and balance and order and symmetry. They make your site look good. They do not want to create a coded form for you. They would prefer to not deal with javascript or HTML at all, really.

F) your web themer is like the in-between from the designer to the coder ---> the themer convert the design into a theme which can then be used on the live site. The designer sometimes but not always is also a themer. The themer can do PHP and understands how functionality and available options are related to your specific needs, but they may not be able to cope with creating advanced functionality on your site.

G) your web hosting technical support speaks LAMP and can help you troubleshoot issues related to permissions, file access to your server, and configuration and security issues. They can answer your question if you have all your details ready, like what prompted the error, what browser and platform you're using, what you were doing when you got the error, and if you have a screenshot.

H) your social marketing person speaks RSS, Facebook, and Twitter. They now how to set up automated systems to publish to your existing channels. They can also help you organize a plan on how to integrate your site with your social networking profiles. They may or may not be able to do any of the above.

Any other ideas on this?

I just mention because personally, as a web *coder*/developer, I don't do design at all anymore (which is a good thing for you, believe me). Plus, I can't really answer specific questions about your font or your gradient or background image. I *can* make a site function the way it's functionally specified, but I can't physically or mentally come up with an artistic version of the site. That's why I work with web designers and themers.

So when I see a job description that says "we need a web designer who can also create articles" or "we need a web coder who will also do design", etc. I think that someone is definitely going to have a hard time filling that particular position.

Thoughts?

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People who are outside of the industry do tend to dilute the lines between different aspects of web development but I also don't expect people to understand the difference between say an Information Architect, UX designer and visual designer when they walk through the door. Each organization has different titles and often with small companies, the lines get blurred.

Therefore if you have a new client, educating the client of the distinction of the roles within your organization and how it will affect their project is something that I feel is an important part of the process.

So when I see a job description that says "we need a web designer who can also create articles" or "we need a web coder who will also do design", etc. I think that someone is definitely going to have a hard time filling that particular position.

It would be challenging to find a single individual that does this all :)
I agree - People outside the industry, and even some within, tend to conflate roles that require very different skill sets. Compounding this problem is the fact that as a relatively young industry, we don't have common vocabulary for many role types. As Scott mentioned, organizations also have differing granularity of specialization, usually depending on their focus and size. Its definitely useful to have roles clearly defined for your organization, as you have above, and posted on your company's intranet or wiki. This is useful for both internal use and for educating your customers.

I saw my favorite help wanted post on a SF job board about 6 years ago. It read, "Web designer with strong Oracle skills needed for content creation and system administration." I snorted coffee out both nostrils :-)
Brian Russo: P.S. Dan the best job listing I ever saw was in the late 90s during the dot-com years... Solaris admin with visual basic dev experience.

LOL. Touché.
Brian Russo said:
Ultimately you always want good people - not people that *just* know the tools well.

I totally agree... most business owners think it's all IT anyway. But if you are good at what you do AND can fit into the company's culture, you can start to define your role and how it fits.

Part of the issue also stems from the person (or people) that was in the role before. I find the job descriptions are only the starting point... you ultimately change that as you build yourself into a part of the organization.

But if the person doesn't fit the culture, it's destined to fail.
Jared I. Kuroiwa said:
Brian Russo said:
Ultimately you always want good people - not people that *just* know the tools well.


That is the heart and soul of the matter, isn't it? good people -- meaning good at what they do, but also *good people* like they are good people.

For me, that boils down to a gut instinct --- like in the first 3 seconds of meeting someone I can tell if it will be a positive, healthy, ongoing, inspiring relationship, or not.

For a business owner, their ability to discern "who's good" may be clouded by not having knowledge about the types of questions to ask in the first place...... in our case, we often have to educate our clients and tell people about the process and what to expect at certain stages ---- all of that discussion and prep work is part of setting the proper framework for the next discussion about the actual project at hand.

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