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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Question So if I don't want to be JUST A WEB DESIGNER...

    ...then I'd like to ask, what types of stable web careers (for paying the bills, being able to live comfortably as a semi-middle class single person) are great to have for someone who wants to do other things along with coding?

    Has online journalism as an industry really skyrocketed, even though bloggers are becoming journalists themselves and providing news for free?

    How important are UI designers right now?

    I'm confused because like most people I think of web design careers as:
    1. programmer - html, ajax, etc
    2. graphic designer - adobe products
    3. motion graphics designer - flash, 3d animation programs
    4. forum moderator
    5. youtube video uploader or video uploader (?)

    Thanks

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru
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    What do you do right now? There are many specialties. You can carve your own niche. It starts with skills and work.

  3. #3
    Trash Boat mkoenig's Avatar
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    I would consider working for myself and creating something useful or a solution.

    I think that the #1 rule is "content is king" in this sphere.
    google the term and read a little about that.

    Essentially you need to have content. That content can be created by either you or users (like this forum) although forums typically tend to be poor money makers as most traffic is from users who become ad blind.

    The more content the larger the chance of getting a visitor. Much content (unique content) brings many visitors. Visitors then buy products or visit sponsors.

    If i where you I would find something that is.
    1.) Enjoyable
    2.) Unique

    Its not that hard to make a little money, but it is hard to make a lot. If you find the right niche you could make some good money however. Im still looking for the right niche myself. I seem to create a website every few months. some catch on, but most dont. those that don't are still worth keeping on a shared host, but ultimately you should move on to other things.

    Good luck

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict JNKlein's Avatar
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    Most of the technical people I work with are not "just coders". The programmers I know have plenty of design experience, the designers have plenty of motion graphics experience, and the UX experts have plenty of programming experience.

    There is a middle class income in all of the things you mentioned, except you'd probably rephrase "forum moderator" to "community manager", and it would expand far beyond a forum, and "youtube video uploader" to "video editor", and would need experience in the appropriate software.

    It's not about what you do, it's about how good you are at it. So pick what you like, and own it.
    I write about making and promoting websites
    worth caring about at my web strategy blog.

    @joshklein on Twitter!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot Mitochondrion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner View Post
    ...then I'd like to ask, what types of stable web careers (for paying the bills, being able to live comfortably as a semi-middle class single person) are great to have for someone who wants to do other things along with coding?

    Has online journalism as an industry really skyrocketed, even though bloggers are becoming journalists themselves and providing news for free?

    How important are UI designers right now?

    I'm confused because like most people I think of web design careers as:
    1. programmer - html, ajax, etc
    2. graphic designer - adobe products
    3. motion graphics designer - flash, 3d animation programs
    4. forum moderator
    5. youtube video uploader or video uploader (?)

    Thanks
    Many design firms and dotcoms that develop web content including "online journalism" are just a bunch of juveniles with expensive laptops running around and pretending to play big business...but they have no idea what big business is. In your design career those cyber-visionaries cannot be counted on as "employers". You can't count on those guys giving a you a full-time job with health benefits like your grandpa had working for Ford Motor Company in the 50s. Even if they do hire you full time most likely it will be a short-lived deal. You need to figure out some kind of a deal where you essentially work for yourself or in a partnership with a few other guys as some kind of a consultant. I like the way "consultant" sounds. It may be a slow process, taken one step at a time. A lot of guys needed to work as car mechanics and stuff while they were developing their multimedia ideas. Eventually their work became so good they were able to pretty much name their own price but it took them like 5 years of hardships to get there. I've read some really interesting war stories from such guys here at Sitepoint.
    Last edited by Mitochondrion; Apr 23, 2008 at 19:24.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot Mitochondrion's Avatar
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    Here's a good example of how web designers survive. I'm posting a link to a company that recovered my data from the hard drive when the operating system experienced a fatal crash I couldn't recover from. As you can see, their services are very diversified. They do web content development as well as web promotion and web hosting but that's just one part of their business model. If web content development was their only thing I can bet they'd be dead in an instant.

    http://www.bpracticalsolutions.com/solutions.htm

    Another company, Norvax (I interviewed with them) stopped developing web content in general and focused on developing web content for insurance companies specifically. They no longer do ordinary web development as far as I know-just stuff for the insurance industry. However, they started as just a bunch of web content developers. Their key to maintaining economic viability is locating a niche market (insurance) targeting it in preference to all others. Niche markets is something that comes up a lot in web career discussions.

    http://www.norvax.com

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitochondrion View Post
    Here's a good example of how web designers survive. I'm posting a link to a company that recovered my data from the hard drive when the operating system experienced a fatal crash I couldn't recover from. As you can see, their services are very diversified. They do web content development as well as web promotion and web hosting but that's just one part of their business model. If web content development was their only thing I can bet they'd be dead in an instant.

    http://www.bpracticalsolutions.com/solutions.htm

    Another company, Norvax (I interviewed with them) stopped developing web content in general and focused on developing web content for insurance companies specifically. They no longer do ordinary web development as far as I know-just stuff for the insurance industry. However, they started as just a bunch of web content developers. Their key to maintaining economic viability is locating a niche market (insurance) targeting it in preference to all others. Niche markets is something that comes up a lot in web career discussions.

    http://www.norvax.com
    But I wonder why do these development firms (the 1st one) break every damn rule of web design possible (using tables, color selection, look and feel, type etc etc) and still maintain that 1995 style websites when they claim to do such high profile work. It isnt rocket science to get a decent website, is it ?

    PS - Sorry if it was very very offtopic

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner View Post
    Has online journalism as an industry really skyrocketed, even though bloggers are becoming journalists themselves and providing news for free?

    How important are UI designers right now?

    I'm confused because like most people I think of web design careers as:
    1. programmer - html, ajax, etc
    2. graphic designer - adobe products
    3. motion graphics designer - flash, 3d animation programs
    4. forum moderator
    5. youtube video uploader or video uploader (?)

    Thanks
    Several questions here

    First and foremost, when you say you're a web designer, a hiring manager checks off a list of skills in his head (design, HTML, CSS and maybe some basic JS). If you can already do more than this, don't use the title. Find something larger.

    UX designers, for example, do design across multiple mediums. Web designer/developers do design as well as coding.

    If you want to develop your coding skills more, there are a whole suite of design/dev combination jobs out there.

    If, however, you'd like to push more towards the content side, then the job you're looking for is more in the Production end. A Producer for a mainstream website has to be able to do some design, some development and some content creation or management. It's a job that pays well, and there are thousands of companies that require Web Producers, Junior Producers, Senior Producers, etc (hell, we'll hire 4 this year just ourselves).

    If you'd prefer more the blogging/community aspect, then you're leaning more towards Community Evangelist / Community Manager type positions, which require you to primarily interact with the community and then solve any issues you can. If you can't solve them, it's your job to champion them through until they are solved by someone else.

    So, yes, there are lots of careers from which "web design" skills can be incredibly useful. And lots of companies are hiring for them.

    On the "is online journalism / citizen journalism / blogging increasing in size and does it pay?" question, the answer is... uh, yeah. There are, quite literally, thousands of full time positions for folk with these skills. And we, as a company, pay more than a million dollars a year to folk with just that skillset.

    News being free doesn't diminish the value of it. NPR isn't less valuable just cause it's free (nor is the BBC, CBC, etc).

    And, while the ad model is one that's both inherently flawed and incredibly risky, in the current environment, if you can get enough traffic it can be a sustainable model.
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
    Personal blog: Strategerize
    Twitter: @jeremywright

  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohilsinha View Post
    But I wonder why do these development firms (the 1st one) break every damn rule of web design possible (using tables, color selection, look and feel, type etc etc) and still maintain that 1995 style websites when they claim to do such high profile work. It isnt rocket science to get a decent website, is it ?

    PS - Sorry if it was very very offtopic
    This is actually a key reason why many designers struggle financially. The fact is good web design is often counter-productive at best, and destructive at worst.

    You need to understand the inner workings of how businesses accumulate and monetize clients. Pretty web sites usually play no role. In my experience really big customers ( six to seven figure billings ) come through good networking, not because someone stumbled upon your web site.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cutter View Post
    This is actually a key reason why many designers struggle financially. The fact is good web design is often counter-productive at best, and destructive at worst.

    You need to understand the inner workings of how businesses accumulate and monetize clients. Pretty web sites usually play no role. In my experience really big customers ( six to seven figure billings ) come through good networking, not because someone stumbled upon your web site.
    Could you please explain more how good web design is counter-productive/ destructive ? I mean why would i want a dev firm to do my work when they themselves have got the fundamental workings wrong ? If they dont follow fundamental rules in making their own websites , how can I expect them to do web dev using the right practices ? Good development practices are a habit. You cant apply good practices at one place and screw up at the other. The company in question does web designing and gives custom designs as solutions. But they themselves have broken all rules of web designing. I cant expect a blind guy to give me a tour of a place, can I ?

    Simply put, I dont like what they put on their site. It might not matter the most but it surely creates "some" negative opinion in my mind. Also, making a site is a one-time effort. Networking cant be used as an excuse for bad designing.

    Ohh and if good web design hurts, then isnt all this hoopla about good design etc misleading ?

    Thanks
    Rohil

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot Mitochondrion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohilsinha View Post
    But I wonder why do these development firms (the 1st one) break every damn rule of web design possible (using tables, color selection, look and feel, type etc etc) and still maintain that 1995 style websites when they claim to do such high profile work. It isnt rocket science to get a decent website, is it ?

    PS - Sorry if it was very very offtopic
    Because they make so much dough doing the other computer services that it doesn't matter if the HTML coding looks 10 years old. Also remember that a majority of clients are not smart enough to spot the kinds of obvious problems you as a pro designer can see in their web pages.

    I've met those guys, they're men in their 40s and 50s who own land, homes, have families and grown man bills to pay. They're not 18 year olds living with mom or sharing an apartment with a roommate. They had to focus on the kind of business model that makes dough.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitochondrion View Post
    Because they make so much dough doing the other computer services that it doesn't matter if the HTML coding looks 10 years old. Also remember that a majority of clients are not smart enough to spot the kinds of obvious problems you as a pro designer can see in their web pages.

    I've met those guys, they're men in their 40s and 50s who own land, homes, have families and grown man bills to pay. They're not 18 year olds living with mom or sharing an apartment with a roommate. They had to focus on the kind of business model that makes dough.
    I agree. This also seems to be the case with majority of offshore development and seo firms.

  13. #13
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    You could also develop desktop applications, or be a database developer. These are highly related fields that overlap and you could surely use that to your advantage with your clients.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot Mitochondrion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dspohn23 View Post
    You could also develop desktop applications, or be a database developer. These are highly related fields that overlap and you could surely use that to your advantage with your clients.
    Well, whatever you do just keep in mind that starvation is pushing straight web content developers out of business. When I was graduating in 1999 all I knew was front-end web development. All the interviewers were asking about was relational databases.

  15. #15
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    Be a Web intrepreneur yourself ? Why keep working for others ? Come up with striking ideas and implement them yourself. Ofcourse, its harder but the rewards are exponentially higher.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitochondrion View Post
    Well, whatever you do just keep in mind that starvation is pushing straight web content developers out of business. When I was graduating in 1999 all I knew was front-end web development. All the interviewers were asking about was relational databases.
    I started out as a full time web developer. Now I have a full time job as a Database Developer. From my experience the pay is much better as a database developer. Someone that is a great web developer and database developer has a great advantage in the job market.

    I still do some web development, but it is on my own time.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohilsinha View Post
    Be a Web intrepreneur yourself ? Why keep working for others ? Come up with striking ideas and implement them yourself. Ofcourse, its harder but the rewards are exponentially higher.
    If you lack the entreprenurial skills (like I do) just look to strike up a deal with someone else that can monetize the idea but lacks the technical skills to apply it. A partnership should be formed when both parts cannot work well by themselves.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    So, yes, there are lots of careers from which "web design" skills can be incredibly useful. And lots of companies are hiring for them.
    Jeremy W., I know you mentioned some examples in your post, but could you list some position titles of such jobs? It would be incredibly helpful to me, and maybe others.

    I'm trying to figure out how my skill set fits into the needs of the market at this point. I have a variety of skills that don't necessarily point to one particular job but I know I've got to be useful for someone and qualified for various things.

    Doesn't necessarily mean that I want to or need to work for someone else. A lot of times I think I could carve out my own specialty and do just fine. There is a demand for skills like forum managing or certain open source software or fixing websites and lots of other things that aren't necessarily the things people think about.

  19. #19
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    Yes, I hear it is thriving.
    Why not become a freelance writer?
    I started writing articles and article marketing is a great way to promote yourself.
    Self-Help Guides - Improve Your Life
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  20. #20
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    If you want to be seen as more than a web designer, pitch yourself as more than the sum of your parts/skills. This may require pitching a job that doesn't exist at a company.

    Jeremy has a lot of good info in his post. Listen to it.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot
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    small revision to my original question

    Which educational foundation is the best to have?

    Visual communication skills or writing skills in the web design/motion graphics/online media industries?

    Should one have a degree in Journalism (with an emphasis in print/online medium) or Graphic Design?

    Thanks and thanks for the replies.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Zealot Mitochondrion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner View Post
    Which educational foundation is the best to have?
    The best education foundation is you don't trust anybody except yourself and maybe god if you're religious. People expect you to have a list of skills the length of the Great Wall of China and they want all the bells and whistles in their software but they don't want to pay for those things. All kinds of headhunters are on the market looking for talented young people willing to work for slave wages. Don't get ripped off. This is the best piece of advice I can give you. The technical education part you can figure out yourself, you're bright.
    Last edited by Mitochondrion; May 14, 2008 at 19:22.

  23. #23
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    Simply add content management and post web design services?
    fash

  24. #24
    SitePoint Guru marcel's Avatar
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    PPC and affiliate marketing are nice options if you can create awesome landing pages.

  25. #25
    Designer
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    Anything will pay the bills as long as you're good at it.

    What "career" you choose doesn't matter if you suck at it anyway.

    So to answer your question:
    Find something you're good at, passionate about, then stick with it.


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