What a Web Designer is Not


Recently, in a group I belong to on Linkedin (Web Designer and HTML/CSS Developer), I read a discussion called Companies that Don’t Know the Difference between a Web Designer and a Graphic Designer are not Worth Working For? (*editorial note this article can no longer be viewed)

The discussion lengthy but it got me thinking, especially when I read what Brian Garrigan a member of the group said:

“Forget about companies knowing the difference between a Graphic Designer and a Web Designer, what about ones that don’t know the difference between Front End and Back End Development?! I’ve seen ads looking for someone who can design a web page in Photoshop but can also create a database, build an eCommerce site and is a master at C++, Ruby, and Pearl. Hello! Those are completely different job skills. And don’t get me started on the ones that throw 3D skills in with that. I’ve seen ads that want someone with Front End and Back End experience who is also a “master” at 3D Studio Max or Maya! Where do companies get the idea that someone like that exists?!!! “

He is completely right. I see job postings and get calls all the time about jobs in my field, however, they usually are completely off base in what they are looking for. Either they are just copying skills down the think are what web designers are or they are trying to mesh 2 to 3 jobs in 1 and then underpay the person who is doing the job.

This is not to say you can’t find a designer and developer all in one, you can but they are few and even if you could find one who is available to hire, you are going to have to pay far more than if you just hired someone who focuses on either front-end or back-end but not both.

And there is the rub, the pay. Most of these postings are absolutely absurd in not only the skill set they want but in what they are willing to pay. Here is 1 example I found on Craig’s List, yes I know it’s Craig’s List but the example is still a legitimate example.

Web Design and SEO
Fast growing company in need of an individual proficient in SEO, pay per click and Drupal template design. This position would start part-time and would grow to full time. Please email resume along with qualifications and references.

Location: Largo
Compensation: $10/ Hour
This is a part-time job.

Really? $10 dollars an hour? I can make that working at some fast food joint, as a waitress, or a retailer.

Here’s another for you to chew on:

Entry Level Graphic Designer – $25K / Year
We are looking for 1 multitask entry-level graphic designer for

Responsibilities May Include:

Become familiar with the entire company product line, pricing structure, and audiences.
Operating printing equipment and printing software
Manage production of our customized products
Provide Customer Service and Sales by email and phone
Content creation and execution, Blog & Copywriting
Social marketing program management – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus
Willingness to roll up your sleeves in a cooperative team environment
You must be proficient in Photoshop and have basic knowledge of a vector design software like Illustrator or Corel Draw.

$25,000 / Year
2 weeks paid vacation
no medical benefits

Really, these guys are out of their minds. Not only are they going to pay you horribly but they want you to be more than a graphic designer too.

These 2 examples are sadly not unusual. I see similar ones all the time even on real job posting sites like Monster or Career Builders. They need to read my article The Cost of a Decent Web Designer

The companies that hire a staffing service to find their talent aren’t any better. I can’t tell you how many times I get calls from staffing services that do not even know what they are really looking for in terms of skill set.

I have to admit my skills are different than most web designers. While it’s true I do develop front end with HTML and CSS, I don’t do javascripting (at least not as of this article), this is something I would like to learn (and I have been reading and practicing it)…but have I ever told you, I really hate programming? It is also true that I can make some pretty darn good graphics too. I do use Photoshop…but I don’t use Illustrator (I just can’t get the hang of that program it never does what I want it to do). It’s also true that I do the social networking at my company, I find people stuff to post as well as posting it, but I don’t program for any of them (you do know you can program for your company, with Facebook right?). I also do marketing, from finding creative ways to promote our company to getting marketing materials together or made. I also do SEO, but I wouldn’t look for a job as an SEO person. I have been called about SEO jobs though, usually, I turn them down and tell them I am not what they are looking for.

There is a lot I can do for many many companies out there today. But please employers at least try and get what you really need down pat. If you want someone who can do backend programming like PHP, Ruby, ASP or some other programming language then what you are really looking for is a web developer, not a web designer. If what you really want is someone to make pretty ads and banners then you need a graphic artist…not a web designer or developer.

Don’t try and get all these hats into 1 position and then offer them far less pay than even one of these positions is worth. If you truly, can’t afford these kinds of employees maybe you should consider hiring people on a project basis until you can afford to pay them full time.

Know what you need, before you place the ad. Don’t try to mesh 6 jobs into 1 and pay less than 1 would get. Bottom line your business deserves someone who is devoted to your companies goals. If you treat your employees fairly in pay and benefits, and in your day to day dealings, your business is going to be far more successful than if you don’t.

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