The statistics from the A List Apart Web Design Survey 2008 have been released. The survey compiled information from almost 30,000 people working in the web industry and, in the majority of cases, the results are not surprising. The typical respondent was a white male aged between 19 and 44 with a college degree living in a western country. He is likely to be an independent contractor or an employee working between 30 and 49 hours per week and making up to $80,000 per year. Two thirds also have a personal site or blog (although I wish they asked how frequently it was updated!)
Then comes the tricky question: “what is your job title?”…
Almost 28% of people answered “Developer”, with “Web Designer” at 13%, “Designer” at 8%, followed by various grand-sounding roles such as Web Master, Creative/Art Director, Web Producer, Information Architect, Usability Consultant, Marketer, Educator, and Accessibility Consultant. Finally, we come to “Other” – only to find that it accounts for a huge 26% of the total. It appears that job titles vary more than the people who completed the survey.
It used to be so much easier: you worked in IT and no one cared much beyond that. It seems that the Web has introduced a plethora of job titles that few people recognise or understand. What is a Webmaster? What does a Web Producer really do? How is it different from an Information Architect?
Many smart companies realised that employees often care more about their job title than their salary. Why give a good pay rise when you can simply make Bob the Vice President of Hypertext Technology Systems? His kids might go hungry, but he’ll be the envy of all his friends.
So do titles matter? Maybe they did at one time, but it has reached the stage where job titles are utterly meaningless to the majority of clients, potential employers, or even fellow colleagues. Web jobs require a varied assortment of skills, so perhaps we should give up trying to label workers?
What is your job title? Does it accurately describe your role? Do you need to explain it to clients? Is it really important to you?