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mobrul
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From:
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-11-2003 17:04 Edit Quote

I got in a discussion recently with my boss about the role(s) of a 'web designer/developer'. I have no intention of starting any semantic wars about the name of some discipline or another. I simply want to discuss the hats we are often called upon to wear in our web professional lives.

I also understand that everybody works in a different situation, and has different backgrounds, thus we all play different roles. That's good. I want that to be part of the discussion too.

I am an 'interactive media specialist'. I'm a one-man shop, working within the context of a medium sized (about 550 employees) software development company. I occasionally employ the use of an outside contractor for particularly tight deadlines.
I have a degree in Electronic and Photographic Communications.

My normal work includes:
-- developing and updating our company website and intranet
-- creating online (HTML and Flash) training for our customers
-- developing CD-ROM (Authorware, Flash and a little bit of Director) training for our customers
-- creating CD-ROM and web (HTML, Flash, Director) marketing productions -- everything from extensive software demos to just fluff animation for trade shows and the like
-- building web applications for internal HR/payroll use

My typical roles include:

Writing Content
Often I am given a rough outline of the desired message, and it is up to me to determine the actual words that will best communicate the message.
Writing for the web is similar to writing for other mediums; it requires proper spelling, grammar and syntax, and a choice of vocabulary and rhythm appropriate to the audience and the message.
Writing for the web is a separate skill from writing for other mediums; it encourages crisp language that is clear and concise. There is an emphasis on speed.

Marketing
I must work well with the Marketing Director, being his voice the web. I must coordinate and work closely with the ad agency.
Even in my training work, I must present a product our customers will choose to use. (All the content in the world will not save one support dollar if our customer will not read it!)

Programmer
I write code -- XHTML, XML, CSS, PHP, Perl, Java, ECMAScript, ActionScript, Lingo, etc to make computers do what I want them to do.

Graphic Design
I would define this as the placement, size, position and color of the elements on the screen to enhance the message.
This often includes photography and occasionally includes video and animation (and all the related skills associated).
Typography, though not my forte, is also in this category.

Usability
I would separate this into a handful of sub-categories:
--Information Architecture - defined (loosely) as the organization of data into easily understood categories.
--Interaction Design - the simplifying and making intuitive of the interaction between human and application.
--Perhaps others...
(I understand this semantic battle is ongoing. I'm not interested in terms, but rather the roles one plays, the skills one possess and uses.)

Certainly we all have different focuses. I come at my job with a focus on communications -- that is, spreading a desired message. Where others have chosen the newspaper, the television, the movie screen or the radio as their medium of choice, I have chosen the computer.
That affects (strongly) the way I go about my job and the roles I play (and emphasize).

I suppose I would like to see other people here expand upon this list, expand upon my simple definitions, provide some insight into the roles you play, the hats you wear, in your jobs.

Thank you.

[edit]After all these years you'd think I would understand ubb...[/edit]

[This message has been edited by mobrul (edited 12-11-2003).]

DmS
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Sthlm, Sweden
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-11-2003 20:13 Edit Quote

I'm an Internet Consultant
j/k, I do a lot of things... I'm more of a generalist than a specialist actually.

I've been teaching system/software-users (old mainframe, OS, MS Word, Intranet apps and the likes) and maintaining document management systems for about 8 years before I turned the corner and went from client to professional solution-priovider.

This I did late -99, since then I've done practically every little thing you can think of...

Examples on work I have done (and actually been paid for ;-) ):
- Strategical analisys (is that a word?) of business processes within government with focus on secure authentication between government and private citizen.
- Project management, both administrative and technical
- Testleader
- Configuration Management
- Systems Architect for web-apps
- Code reviews
- Technical due dilligence
- Accessabillity review and analisys
- Raw HTML-coder
- Graphical designer
- Web Interface designer (Visual & structural design)
- Clientside programmer
- Serverside programming PHP/ASP
- DB-Designing MySQL/MS-Sql
- Answered countless RFI/RFP for web-solutions
- Copy
- Marketing
- Sales & Presales
And so on...

It's probably easier to list what I don't do:
- I dont do 3D, Flash, Director, animations and similar.
- I don't do print-jobs (actually it has happened...)
- I'm not a photographer (for that I use my brother)

Also, so far I have not had an official company of my own (yet...)

Degree?
eh, I'm a certified car mechanic with an unfinished degree in business economics...

That's me, more or less.
/Dan

{cell 260}
-{ a vibration is a movement that doesn't know which way to go }-

hyperbole
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Madison, Indiana, USA
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-12-2003 18:27 Edit Quote

Hi mobrul,

I like the job definitions you gave. I also tend to agree with how you have them categorized.

I don't see any discussion of creation of graphics in your post. Does that fall under Graphics Design or is it part of another job definition?

I have been an independent software consultant for many years and have been trying to learn more about doing web projects for the last several years. With a background in Physics, an MA in Computer Graphic Art, and over thirty years experience writing computer programs, I often have difficulty figuring out how to tell people what I do.

I have several other people that work with me. We call our group a Design Team and we divide the jobs pretty much along the same lines you have laid out.


-- not necessarily stoned... just beautiful.


[This message has been edited by hyperbole (edited 12-12-2003).]

mobrul
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From:
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-12-2003 21:40 Edit Quote

hyperbole
Thank you.

I would consider creation of graphics to be a part of Graphic Design. Most of my graphic production consists of photos and screen shots (or recreation of screens -- for demos). Where would you put it?

DMS
Thank you, also.

Perhaps you could expand a bit on some of those 'examples of work'? Maybe provide some rough definitions.

What is strategic analysis?
You mention security. Was this a purely technical role or did it involve other elements of teaching people how to be secure?
(e.g. reminding people the importance of creating proper passwords, ...and changing them often, locking PCs while away from the desk, disaster recovery plans, etc)

I have no idea what is configuration management.

What is/was the purpose of that code reviewing project? Debugging? Improving effiency? Was it code you wrote or somebody else's?

Interesting you mentioned serverside programming seperate from db design. When I am called upon to deliver one, I am always also doing the other. Never has it been otherwise.
I suppose I assumed *all* programmers also develop the data structures for their projects. Is this not the case? How often is it you get called upon to develop a db without having a hand in the code writing?

Does anybody ever have trouble from this multi-role nature of our jobs?
My troubles come in two opposite forms.
Sometimes I will run into people who assume I am 'just a [insert one of the above disciplines]' so I must not know anything about the others. More often than not this takes the form of 'You are just a programmer so you must not be able to write well.'
The other side of this is assuming I know all things computer related. Just the other day this took the form of, 'You were the one who set up that [Apache] web server. Go troubleshoot the DNS server at our satellite office.' (For the record, I know exactly jack about DNS.)


DmS
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Sthlm, Sweden
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-15-2003 14:41 Edit Quote

LOL, technical terms is wonderful, ain't it
Ok, here we go, explanation in italics:
- Strategical analisys of business processes within government with focus on secure authentication between government and private citizen.
I did a workshop with 8 participants where the aim was to chart a businessprocess in order to determine what solutions/actions was needed in order to allow a private citizen to place a kid in line for the governmental daycare service (a legally binding deal). Identification was to be provided by hard certificates (smart cards), on a strategical level we worked out what implications this would have on the governmental agency and on the private citizen.

- Project management, both administrative and technical
I differ between running a project on an administrative level, timereporting, progress reports and so on, and beeing the "spider" that makes sure that every coder/designer are working towards the same goal and does the right thing for that particular phase in the project.

- Testleader
You have a bunch of testers and testschemes to follow, keep this work in check and make sure errors are prioritised correctly

- Configuration Management
Here you are responsible for versioncontrol, builds, releases and so on of both all the code, the whole site/application and the server enviroment (OS,versions, patches and so on).

- Systems Architect for web-apps
Design the codestructure, how should it be broken down into different functions/classes/methods

- Code reviews
Here I took a partly completed webproject (done by a client) and the goals for it, I reviewed it and returned a report stating if it would work in accordance with their goals, how much time it was left and suggested alternaive solutuions.

- Technical due dilligence
Broke down a completed application into a technical description that could be used when seeking venture capital

- Accessabillity review and analisys
I took a governmental site and went through it based on the WAI from W3C and delivered a report on how well the site conformed to the standards (lot's of code digging)

- Raw HTML-coder
Realizing an image into HTML

- Graphical designer
Designing graphics of different sorts

- Web Interface designer (Visual & structural design)
Color use, form layouts, site structure, things like that

- Clientside programmer
HTML/DHTML/CSS/Javascript

- Serverside programming PHP/ASP
Coding without having designed the HTML or the data-structure

- DB-Designing MySQL/MS-Sql
Designing a database based on what info the site needs to store

- Answered countless RFI/RFP for web-solutions
RFI = Request For Information, RFP = Request For Proposal

- Copy
Writing...

- Marketing
Writing material, creating presentations and similar for the sales ppl plus marketing strategy

- Sales & Presales
Going out there and selling yourself and your services/products

As for differentiating db-design from serverside, most often I do them both, on a number of times when there are more than one person in the project we divide the work, if the other person is a db-guru, why should I design the db, the other way around has also happened when I turned out to have the clearest view of how the db should work. It all depends on the project, how many ppl involved and how you decide to divide the tasks.

Hope that made it clearer
/Dan

{cell 260}
-{ a vibration is a movement that doesn't know which way to go }-

[This message has been edited by DmS (edited 12-15-2003).]

hyperbole
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Madison, Indiana, USA
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-16-2003 02:28 Edit Quote

I have often been asked to write programs that access a database that I have had no part in designing. Several of the projects I have worked on had an individual designated as the database designer and his entire job was to design the tables, and fields that would make up the database an my job was to write the programs that would put data into the database and extract data therefrom.

As far as where I thing graphic cration fits: I'm not sure it belongs under Graphic Design I have several friends that call themselves Graphic Designers. They specify the placement of text, graphics, etc on pages but don't want to have anything to do with creation of the images for the pages. Possibly the term Graphic Artist would be applicable, but I think it may already have another meaning. I have also heard the term Illustrator (the verb not the noun) used to describe this position. We might also consider Digital artist.


-- not necessarily stoned... just beautiful.


[This message has been edited by hyperbole (edited 12-16-2003).]



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