D1J1T Article Categories:

Programming   Management   Development   Design   HTML   JavaScript   CSS   PHP   MySQL   Database   Server   Audio   Object-oriented Programming   Hosting   Mobile   Social Networking   Java  

Web programmer, designer, developer?

Which Should I Hire? Which Do I Have?

by D1J1T — in Management — Updated: Mar 4, 2014 at 9:39 am

These titles are sometimes used synonymously in the field. When I first starting helping companies with their web presence, it was almost always assumed that I'd be doing the programming, graphics, managing the host server software, technical writing, all of it. I'd ask clients, "Do you have any photos that I can use?" "Any mail marketing materials?" "Logo graphic at least please?"

Today most companies, even small business owners have a better understanding of why developing websites should be a group effort. In addition they have a general idea how to divide the work among programmers, graphic artists, and technical writers. It is important that these divisions communicate regularly and have a basic knowledge of the other tasks of the other divisions in order to be most efficient.

Let's say that you have a dedicated SEO/SEM on staff or under contract. Is he or she communicating regularly with your tech writers, general marketing, and with your programmer? Is your programmer programming with the newest dimensions of that beautiful new graphic your designer is working on, or have they not even seen it yet? Lack of a specific piece of information in a division is a frequent cause of wasted time/efforts from my experience. I've seen full layouts ready to launch, only to be sent back "to the drawing board" due to lack of a single, but vital piece of information.

Programmers can't (though may enjoy trying) inform everyone of every detail, and shouldn't have to. A graphic artist should know certain basics of the technologies/languages used. At the same time, your programmer/developer shouldn't have to send an image back to the graphic artist to render a different format, to re-size it, or to make some other minor edit. Management should know for example that the iPhone is a specific device that is targeted and that it's important to inform the developer in advance of this fact. The network/server administrator should know whether or not a manager or sales rep needs or should have a user/pass setup for him or her to test/present. They don't necessarily need to see that latest beautiful graphic. In larger businesses, the leads of each division should know all of the specifics of their division that need to be communicated to/fro each other division and should be the main point of contact for doing so.

Did you hire a Programmer? Developer? Designer? Do you know the difference? Have the hirees proven the skills listed on their resume?

Just because people can use the design view of an IDE and can drag/drop graphics onto it, does not make them proficient in HTML, (not to mention x other programming languages).

Just because people know Photoshop (well even), does not make them a graphic artist/designer. I am a prime example here. I know Photoshop in and out, a bit of Illustrator, Fireworks, InDesign, can use Flash, have played with 3d rendering software packages like Blender, TrueSpace, Fractal Poser, etc., but simply don't have the eye for design, nor certain other advanced graphic skills/theories. I know enough to make simple graphics, work with photos, layers, file types, filters, formats, but most importantly, I don't have to contact that graphic artist for something silly. At the same time when attempting to design graphics, I often get frustrated.

The employee listed web hosting, server-side technologies, networking and databases. Did you hire a person that can create, or simply manage websites and server software? Is this person moving about your office machines configuring each user's machine? The employee is probably a network admin, IT pro, and also an upgrade/repair specialist. He or she may be a Linux guru, if so, could more than likely program in most all of the major web languages if desired. However, this is not the employee's specialty. He or she can secure your office and website, configure all of your software/users/networks/systems, but this person more than likely won't be happy developing/updating your website all day.

The employee listed Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, and HTML5.
This person is a graphics designer, not a developer. If the list was expanded to include ActionScript 3 (with Flash), CSS, JavaScript, others, then the newly hired person may also have a good bit of programming skill.

The employee listed multiple languages and: "familiar with Photoshop, Illustrator, etc."
This person is a web programmer with minimal/necessary graphics software skill.

The employee claims to have a specialty in for example "Social Media" or "SEO/SEM"
Know that he or she is probably serious about being a specialist in just that. Don't expect this person to be able to program in C++ or create 3d models for a project.

The employee has multiple degrees, is looking for a position in sales, management, technical writing or quality assurance, and claim "knowledge of Web and Office applications." This person is probably very intelligent, though not very computer savy. Expect that his or her computer skills may be limited to browsing the Internet and using MS Office.

In sum, when evaluating anyone for positions working on your, or your clients' website(s), know but also test his or her skill set. Most importantly, know the exact skills you need. "I need a web programmer." NO! Instead, you need HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, PHP/MySQL. Or, perhaps you need ASP/Access instead of those last two. "I need a graphics designer." NO! You need Adobe Suite, Typography, etc. OR perhaps you need a 3d artist: 3D StudioMax, Blender, Maya, TrueSpace. Maybe it's a photographer or a painter that actually suits best? Ensure you have strong employees in each necessary section. Don't discount that "Jill of all trades", but don't put her in the position to handle all tasks either. Put her in the position in which she is most skilled, letting her other skills be a bonus to your company.

If you find these articles to be helpful, I could always use another cup of coffee! Social media likes/+1s are also much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Add Comment to Post: