As I ponder what is next as one of my main retained client contracts comes to an end I have been trying to work out what I am. #
TL:DR - Job descriptions seem unreasonable and there are none that suit my skills!
I have worked on both sides of websites over the years. I started out as a web designer before ending up doing just development and then swinging back towards design focusing on the initial wireframes and concepts. As time has gone on I have also done much more client facing and account management roles. When I look at how I fit in within a team it feels like my skills are separated. I have the nouse to develop good functional wireframes and specs but maybe lacking that real flair a pure designer has at conceptualising it. Being able to prototype and develop websites but without the clinical code that a pure developer produces. The ability to run a project but lacking the depth of knowledge and processes of a Project Manager.
Don’t get me wrong I am confident in my own ability, I just don’t think I have a tangible specialism. There is something incredibly liberating about being able to take an idea to a fruition, to plan it, design it - build it and launch it. I have been able to use this ability outside of websites too on community based projects.
Do we end up with a lack of cohesion between teams? #
I see people working in their own spaces and just doing their part before handing it on, the PM making sure each part is done but only as items on a gantt chart. It feels like having people to help join up the specialists would be a good thing? Maybe that is what a Product Manager kind of does but you don’t seem to get those in an agency environment.
I don’t think I have ever seen a job advert for a hybrid, if anything job descriptions for designers and developers just list “all the things” and are usually out of step with the position being filled or the salary expectations. You must have 4 years experience of a tech that is 1 year old or know all the latest design platforms inside out.. Just in case.
Who am I? #
In reality when I am within a studio I can see my worth. It isn’t my knowledge of CSS or the fact I can optimise an svg it actually comes down to problem solving and communication. I can empathise/talk with clients, designers and developers and I can solve problems right across the project lifecycle. I can float across projects running in the studio helping to fight fires, sense check or give a little art direction.
You don’t see these as core requirements in jobs though, if you are lucky they might get a mention but more as an afterthought than anything. Tech stacks come and go and unlike my knowledge of AS3 and Flash which was deleted to make space in my brain long ago I have added and built on my problem solving and communication skills as I have journeyed through my career.
I don’t want to have to specialise to stay relevant, but with no obvious roles as the “glue” of a project it seems I will have to. So what is a person who is interested in all aspects of web design to do?