Seeing the Big Picture of Web Development Jobs - Getting a Job in Web Development - Getting a Web Development Job For Dummies (2015)

Getting a Web Development Job For Dummies (2015)

Part I. Getting a Job in Web Development

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In this part …

· Understand why web development matters

· Explore web development career paths

· Understand organizations that hire web development professionals

· Learn about the web development jobs market in the U.S.

Chapter 1. Seeing the Big Picture of Web Development Jobs

In This Chapter

arrow Discovering why web development has so many jobs

arrow Understanding why companies care about web development

arrow Figuring out what are some of the main kinds of sites

arrow Seeing which jobs go with which kinds of sites

Web development is the largest and fastest-growing area of employment today. Web development includes technically oriented people who write computer programs, graphic designers who never see a line of computer code, content and marketing experts who concentrate on the visual and verbal appeal of a page, and many more experts and dabblers.

The ways in which people work in web development are as many and varied as the kind of work that is covered by the web development umbrella. Many people work traditional “day jobs,” but you will also see just as many people in a garage startup working 80 hours a week, contractors, consultants, part-timers, and people who will give you crucial insights that save your project just because you were good enough to buy them lunch.

The reason for the many and varied job descriptions, and the many and varied ways of working, in web development is simple: The web is the greatest creative canvas in human history. The rapid and continuing growth of the web is driven by the appeal of simple combinations of words and pictures, abetted now by multimedia, laid out in easy to scan and attractive ways, and offering users functionality from the simplest task — reading a newspaper article, say — to a dashboard that displays the operational status of a multibillion-dollar factory (or a multibillion-dollar war). Art, music, photography, creative writing, commerce — almost anything that people do is delivered by the web, or supported by content and functionality delivered by the web.

Only some of the work roles that support the wonders of the web are considered “web development jobs.” Here are a few descriptive phrases to help narrow down what we can consider part of the web development world:

· Technical: Web development jobs usually involve dealing with the technical considerations that are unique to the web — from the computer code that runs it, to the markup languages that control the delivery and display of words and images, to the hardware and software functionality that determines whether a web page appears quickly or slowly, to the often complex and demanding tools that are used to create websites and web content.

· Creative: The web is so new that there are relatively few rules in web development. The best way to do most things has usually not been found yet, let alone widely discussed, agreed, and set in concrete. Instead, a willingness to improvise, to try new things — and to search widely, and quickly, for the best of what other people are doing — is crucial to web development work.

· Fast-changing: The web development world is constantly and unrelentingly changing. Some things that used to be unreliable are now settled, such as the basics of HTML and even, dare we say it, CSS. (HTML, HyperText Markup Language, is the simple code that specifies parts of text, such as headlines or emphasized text, and that shows where to find an image file that will be displayed on the page. CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, is a newer kind of code that gives you considerable flexibility and control in onscreen page layout.) But more things are changing — new capabilities, new tools, new programming languages, and new best practices. (“Best” being a relative term here.)

· Varied: There are many specialists in web development, but people are expected to be multi-skilled, and to move away from less-needed or even obsolete skills to new abilities that are on today’s cutting edge. As an example, many web developers made a good living tweaking HTML markup and CSS code to make a web page work well on different personal computer web browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. That area has largely settled down, and many of the same people are now making the same web page work well on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, using the new versions of the same standards — HTML5 and CSS3.

We could go on, but this list captures the wide and fast-changing world of web development as well as any brief description can. And this list helps us to identify the one common element that is the most important in distinguishing the web development world, and the most crucial characteristic of the many, many people who thrive in it.

The common element in web development is change; most areas of web development are changing quickly. Even where technical standards have settled down, how and even why we do things in web development continue to evolve. Styles come and go, such as web pages with big images and few words; needs change, as with the unrelenting growth of mobile.

And the most important characteristic of successful web development people is the secret to accommodating this rapid pace of change: a love of learning. It’s great for a web developer to love change in and of itself, but what helps her thrive in that fast-changing world is the desire to swim better in these fast-flowing currents by picking up new information, new skills, new attitudes, and new ways of working.

The fact that you’re reading this book shows that you probably have this core characteristic, this love of learning. You aren’t happy with a top ten list or a brief video clip when you face a serious issue, and a big opportunity, such as moving over to, or moving up in, the world of web development. Of course, you will probably look at many top ten lists and video clips as well; there are several of each associated with or linked to from this book. But, as a reader of this book, you’re willing to do some heavy lifting to understand this still-new world. Welcome!

Getting Why Web Development Matters

Web development matters because the web matters in so many ways that we could take this whole chapter just to briefly describe them all.

Here’s one way of describing how important the web has become, and how quickly it has grown in importance. One of us, Bud Smith, was working for Apple Computer in 1994. (Which, luckily, was nothing like 1984 — that’s an old Apple joke.)

Smith started hearing about something called the World Wide Web, and seeing Mosaic, an early web browser, on developers’ screens. He quickly pulled together a book proposal, and he was soon the proud co-author of an early web book, Creating Web Pages For Dummies(Wiley). This book went to nine editions and is still in print more than 20 years later. That’s about how long the web has been known to most people, as usage grew and grew and grew.

In that time, the web has become ubiquitous in the developed world, and commonly used in the developing world. Facebook alone, which started out as a website and is now powered by mobile apps, has more than 1.3 billion monthly average users.

The web is now a major source of information, entertainment, commerce, computing capability, and more, and growing fast in all these areas every year. About ten percent of all retail sales go through the web in the developed world, and steady growth continues. Websites change all the time, and many mobile apps — a very fast-growing area of software — are simply repurposed, and simplified, websites.

Books, magazines, newspapers, the telephone, movies, and television are all important communications and entertainment media today, and all of them, in their traditional forms, are being disrupted by the web. That is, all of them partly depend on the web as infrastructure and distribution — and all of them see the web as competition. And one can hardly emphasize enough that this disruption is continuing year after year after year.

Also, none of the other media listed is also a front end for software. Inventor and entrepreneur Marc Andreesen famously said, “Software is eating the world.” This means that more and more of the things that people do are being converted to software. And more and more of that software is being presented to people through websites and apps. (See the sidebar “Is app development the same as web development?” for more.)

For an example, consider Amazon ( Amazon stores and presents user reviews for an immense range of products. It displays a different version of its home page to you based on your past purchases. And it makes recommendations to you based on your past purchases and the content you’re currently looking at. It also lets you buy with a single click, if you wish. (This feature is almost unique to Amazon, which protects its intellectual property zealously.)

All this functionality is based in software — often quite consequential software. Amazon’s recommendation engine, for instance, is a major software engineering project in its own right, protected by patents and trade secrets just like other advanced technology.

What’s important here is that all this technology is presented through a web interface and is considered to be part of this market-leading website. As a supporting point, making a website work better is causing new and improved technology to be developed on a rapid and constant basis.

So you have the fastest-growing medium ever, and one that is at least as consequential as any other medium, ever. And it was invented and became popular not much more than a couple of decades ago. The size and importance of the web, its innovative use and creation of technology, and its incredibly rapid growth are the core reasons why web development is so important.

Is app development the same as web development?

An app is a computer program that’s sold as a product in an app store: Apple’s iTunes App Store, the Google Play Store, or similar.

An app is, technically speaking, the same as an application — a computer program that’s sold as a product. But apps were designed for small-screen devices, such as the iPhone and Android phones, then extended to tablets. They evolved to mostly be limited in purpose (one function, or a few closely related functions); very easy to use; and cheap, either free, or sold for a few dollars.

Many websites are a lot like apps (and vice versa). For instance, your bank’s website probably lets you see your statements, pay bills, make deposits by photographing checks, and more. If your bank has a phone app or an iPad app, they probably do all of the same things.

However, apps are not exactly the same as websites. Many websites are information-only, or information-mostly, with just a little bit of functionality — such as a simple form that you fill in to join an email list. But Apple has recently moved to prevent apps that are information-mostly from being listed on the App Store.

Apps are also pretty specialized, given that they work on small screens and have limited functionality. Overall, app development is not the same as web development, but many apps are repurposed websites, including significant functionality, and web development jobs can include app development. Companies that specialize in app development are likely to hire people with web development backgrounds, and then teach them a few additional skills so they can help turn out killer apps instead.

Why There Are So Many Web Development Jobs

Web development jobs are one of the largest new categories, and one of the fastest-growing categories, in employment. For the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are roughly 150,000 positions at this writing. Over the next decade, employment is expected to grow about 20 percent here. The main driver of job growth in web development is e-commerce. In many retail categories, about 10 percent of all sales are completed online. That percentage is expected to roughly double over the next decade.

However, there are more web development jobs in the job listings than for other kinds of positions, even those with more total employees. Why is this? A few reasons spring to mind:

· Rapid growth: Most job categories aren’t growing by double digits per decade. Companies need to advertise constantly to support growing their roster of web development people.

· Rapid change: The skills needed in web development are constantly changing. For instance, Facebook recently introduced a new computer language called Hack. It’s a version of the web scripting language PHP, but with strong typing, which is the capability to declare what kind of information a new variable holds in advance, such as text or integers (numbers without decimal points, such as –1, 0, and 42). If you can show that you have experience as a Hack developer, a company that wants to put the new language to use will probably hire you.

· High conventional turnover: There’s high turnover in web development jobs, with people leaving one job for another job, or leaving the workforce for other kinds of jobs, family reasons, or retirement. It often seems that the only way to get paid fairly for hot or new skills is to leave one job and go to another. Two years can be a long stint at one company in web development!

· New approache: The emergence of mobile devices, now equaling conventional PCs for web access, has led to new needs. Responsive websites, which work well across a wide range of screen sizes, and mobile apps are among the new needs that drive growth.

· High unconventional turnover: In web development, people often move back and forth from regular employment to contracting (you get paid by the hour, without much in the way of benefits from the employer) or consulting (similar to contracting, but usually including giving advice on what to do, with perhaps some contracting-type hourly work included). This kind of turnover really gooses the job postings as employers struggle to keep people in conventional jobs.

· Prospecting: Companies are often not fully serious about job postings in general, and tech job postings in particular. That is, they don’t have an open position right now that they’ll fill if they find the right candidate. Instead, they’ll get resumes in, interview people, and then have someone ready if an opening comes up — or move an existing employee out, even if he’s fairly productive, and move someone who seems more promising, or less expensive, in.

· More employer: There are many new companies springing up to meet the needs of established companies, as well as startups with their own needs for standout web development. There’s lots of greenfield work — developing brand-new websites that haven’t existed before — as well as improvements and extensions to existing websites, especially changes to add to mobile functionality.

Why Do Companies Care about Web Development?

Companies care tremendously about web development. The reasons are complicated, numerous, and differ from one company to another, but there are many common themes.

Web development needs differ from organization to organization — and, within an organization, often from quarter to quarter. That’s because the web is protean — it can do so many things.

Following is a brief and partial list of different types of websites. It’s important that you recognize these types of sites because the types of job roles they require will vary significantly.

Basic company brochureware

Every company of any consequence today has at least basic “brochureware” website. This website does the same thing as a brochure that the same company might hand out at a trade show or a job fair, or give to investors or press people:

· Describe what the company does: People who learn of a company sometimes wonder what the company does — and, for some companies that are particularly complex, including those that have grown through multiple acquisitions, the people wondering can include managers of the company itself! A website will have an About section that describes what a company wants to say it does in the world.

· Show where the company is: A company uses its website to describe where it’s located. This can be very simple, as with a single company office location, or very complicated, including not only multiple sites where the company has offices, but also the location of distributors, retailers, repair shops for a company’s products, and more.

· Announce who managers are: Some companies put all their employees’ descriptions up on the web, and companies with investors are compelled to put the names of certain legally defined officers. Most companies put up at least the top half a dozen or so employees, who are meant to be an impressive-looking group that will make you want to invest, go to work for the company, buy their products, and so on.

· Show off what the company sells: A website is a great place for photographs of any tangible products the company sells, whether it’s knives for professional chefs, house plants, cars, or boats. Again, this is a classic brochure function, translated to the web.

· Tell you where to buy the company’s products: A website helps you find out how to buy. This can mean everything from going to the nearest corner store to contacting the company’s sales department.

· Tell you how to get a job: A website usually tells you how to look for work at a company. It will often have job listings and an email address or form for submitting your resume and a cover letter.

· Keeping in touch: Many companies will offer an email list that you can join for regular updates from the company.

Brochureware sites were developed because it’s easier and cheaper to put this kind of information on a website than it is to write, lay out, and print up a brochure, and then get it in the hands of the person who needs it — which usually takes precious time. The people seeking information doesn’t have to wait to get a brochure, try to remember where they put it, or worry about whether it’s up-to-date. They just find the website and look for themselves.

Brochureware sites also serve another purpose — they allow a company to say, “Of course we have a website.” Brochureware sites often reflect a company that hasn’t thought through how it can really take best advantage of the web.

Figure 1-1 shows a discussion of brochureware sites on the National Institutes of Health site, where it compares them to interactive websites. You can visit it at

Websites are commonly used to sell, support, and arrange for service for products. If a typical company isn’t looking to do these things online, it probably should.


Figure 1-1: The National Institutes of Health has a useful discussion of different types of websites.

When Marc Andreessen says that “software is eating the world,” this is what he means. It’s very often easier, cheaper, and more effective to do at least part of any function a company does online, supported by software and available to everyone. Just for one example: A company may have a product that’s very hard to choose and fit online, such as shoes. (We know shoes are sold online, but they’re still sold in person a lot too, for these reasons.)

So say that you’ve decided to only sell shoes in person. Well, you’re not done. A customer who has purchased your great shoes and received your great service may want to buy another pair of shoes like the ones she bought before. If she hasn’t grown or otherwise changed, the exact same shoes will work for her. A website is a great way to help her reorder them.

Or, perhaps the customer is really excited about her shoes and wants to join a club or have an ongoing discussion about them. The online world is a great place to do that.

Brochureware sites for large companies can be very extensive, with tons of information. But in these cases, it’s even more likely that the company is missing opportunities to do more online.

If a company hires you to work on a brochureware site, think through whether it’s missing opportunities to do more. You may be able to expand the job opportunity — but, if the company is too stuck in the mud, you may decide you don’t want to work for the company at all.

What kinds of website developers are needed for a brochureware site? Here are a few descriptive characterizations, although one person can have more than one skill:

· Website designer: Usually, when most people refer to a website designer, they mean a generalist — relatively speaking — who can mock up the look of a website for approval, lay out the site using HTML and CSS, and put content in it.

· Graphic designer: A graphic designer will fine-tune the look of the website, possibly take and possibly edit photographs, help choose fonts, and so on. The website designer will often be, or hire in, the graphic artist.

· Writer: Often a writer will be hired to write and edit the words in a website. The task is often more about editing than writing, because the words are often adapted from existing materials, such as — you guessed it — a static, printed marketing brochure.

· Analyst: Often, after a website is up, companies will want to know who’s looking at what pages, and what actions they take, where possible — clicking for more information, filling out a form to request information, and so on.

“Just go look on the website”

One of the most annoying things a potential customer can be told by a company employee when she has a question is “just go look on the website.”

People today know that organizations have websites and that they can find all sorts of information on them. They also know that it can be hard to find information on websites, especially on a smartphone — which is all they’re likely to have handy when they’re asking an employee a question.

When people are talking to an employee, they want information now, and they may want more specific information than a website is likely to provide; they may want the newest information, which may not be on the website yet; they may have follow-up questions, so the easy one is just a starting point; and they may not want to bother to search online, now (with their smartphone) or later (with a tablet or personal computer).

Recognizing these user needs, what can a web developer do? First, use questions that employees get from people, including questions that are asked live and in-person, as fodder for the website. The web indeed should answer all the questions that people commonly asked, and the information should be dead easy to find.

But, as a web developer, you should also recognize that people get information in many ways, not only through your precious site. Consider working with others in your organization to make sure that there’s a free flow of information that gets on the website — and that customers can get directly from employees when they want it.

A database-driven site

A database-driven site can be almost any kind of site, but at minimum it’s a step up in technical complexity from a brochureware site. In a database-driven site, each page that’s shown in the site is generated from a database call.

Look at a site for a newspaper such as The New York Times. The Times has too many stories that change too fast to write separate HTML and CSS code for each web page that displays a new story. Instead, the story is placed in a database, and the data is then retrieved when someone wants to see the story.

With this kind of flexible web page, ads, recommended stories, and other content on the web page can also be generated from database calls. The website becomes far more flexible; at the same time, an entire new level of complexity is introduced because it becomes much harder to know, or track, just who among the visitors to your site has seen exactly what.

A database-driven site typically uses a content management system (CMS): a tool for people to enter and link information that will appear on the website. A good CMS makes a lot of people’s jobs easier, but it’s also the case that, between the CMS and the database functionality that makes pages appear, there’s now a lot of complexity between the person who wants information to appear on a web page and the user who actually sees the information.

Figure 1-2 shows a web page promoting Go Gov!, a CMS developed for use by governments by the state of Oklahoma. You can visit the page at the following catchy URL:


Figure 1-2: Oklahoma offers Go Gov!, a CMS specifically designed for use by governments.

So who are some of the people you might see added to a database-driven site team, in addition to the people you see on simpler sites, such as website designers, graphic artists, writers, and analysts?

· CMS manager: Someone has to buy in or (shudder) create the CMS software, and someone else has to manage it. (Writing a CMS today would be hard, as there are a lot of demands on CMS software.) With about half of all new sites today being WordPress-based, the CMS manager role will be growing quickly.

· CSS expert: Whereas most website designers know something about CSS, a marketing site needs to generate many similar pages quickly. A reusable library of professionally designed CSS templates is a vital resource for this kind of work.

· Database programmer: This role might or might not be considered a web design job, but it’s definitely an important role for a database-driven website team to have. This can be a whole bunch of people, one of whom might be considered part of the web design team, whereas others are considered “back-end” and more purely technical developers.

The URL challenge

Experienced users of the web often develop an eye for URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators — the description at the top of a web page that explains where a web page is retrieved from. Users can look to the URL for information about where they are on a site, where they might go next, and other information.

For instance, here’s a URL generated when you’re looking at Google Calendar:

This URL at least tells you where you are on the web: at Google’s Calendar site. The last part of the URL, render, refers to the process of generating the calendar that appears on the website — obviously, a database-driven page, but that’s not obvious from the URL. The URL doesn’t tell the user much, but it’s not distracting or obnoxious.

Here’s a mixed URL from Google:

Plainly, this is a Google Search result, but there’s a lot of additional information too. The information after the question mark (?) is a set of key-value pairs. A key-value pair is a combination of a descriptive term — the key — and actual live data, the value. So the q that follows the question mark, in this case, is the key for the value the user entered; the value is the words the user entered, which happens to be the name of an article the user found online called “How to Think Like a Computer Scientist.” This kind of URL is confusing to the casual user, even though with some dedication — and some knowledge of the history of the web — you can figure most of it out.

Now here’s a URL from The New York Times:

We mentioned earlier that the The New York Times uses a database-driven website, and you can see that here. But the URL at least includes information about the date, category, and title of the story. Some websites hide the key-value information entirely and only display information that makes sense to the casual user in the URL, which is the user-friendliest way to display URLs of all.

A marketing site

A marketing site is a big step up from a brochureware site. The purpose of a properly designed marketing site, in our humble opinion, is to get leads. This is not “feel-good” marketing that makes visitors feel all warm and fuzzy, but doesn’t ask them to do anything specific. It’s a site that has goals and gathers hard evidence of success.

Many marketing sites build up a complete marketing lead from “bits and bobs” — pieces gathered from various sources. For instance, if you buy a list of leads, you can then compare that to people who have created a login for your website. The lead can now be extended to include information about the person’s on-site activity and marketing involvement with the company, such as participating in a webinar.

These leads can supplement, or be the main source of, the information that a company uses to run its sales operation. The list of leads is the interface between marketing, which generates and augments the list of leads, and sales, which uses them to contact potential customers and sell.

Many brochureware sites would do a lot more good for their companies if they were converted to lead-generating marketing sites. This latter kind of site actually makes the website part of a profit center, sales, rather than a cost center such as a brochureware site, with results that can’t easily be tied to sales revenue.

However, this is not an easy or necessarily an inexpensive transition. An example is the kind of software needed to manage this process. A company called Marketo automates much of the process of offering information, brochure downloads, webinars, and similar information online. Marketo software can track potential customers as they surf a company’s website, building up a complete lead a piece at a time, using a name and email address to generate a webinar signup, and then using the webinar signup to complete the lead with full customer information. (And then augmenting that with data about the lead’s participation in the webinar she signed up for.)

The difference between a brochureware site and an active marketing site is shown by something that happens only on the latter. If a potential Marketo software customer gives the company basic lead information and then checks the company’s software pricing page, he gets a call from a pre-sales employee within five minutes because Marketo has determined that this was the optimal window for moving the sales process forward. A subscription to the company’s software costs at least $500 a month, so it’s worth investing some time from an actual employee to contact a hot lead who was more or less ready to buy.

Like a brochureware site, a marketing site will need a designer, an artist, and a writer. More than a brochureware site, it will need multiple analysts to track information generated by the site. (And Marketo, among others, sells specialized software for this purpose.)

Active marketing sites are highly likely to be database-driven, so they will also need roles such as CMS manager, CSS expert, and database programmer, as described in the previous section.

Here are some other roles you might need for an active marketing site:

· Interaction designer: A true marketing site is optimized to gather information from visitors, so an interaction designer — someone who studies how people actually use a product or service, such as a website — can be a vital part of the picture. (You can find interaction designers working on all kinds of websites, but active marketing websites have an especially strong need for them.)

· JavaScript engineer: Active marketing sites use JavaScript or other software technology to tie marketing emails to the lead database to what gets displayed to specific companies on the website. Marketo claims to automate this process, but if you’re footing the bill for this kind of software, you’re probably working with a lot of leads and a lot of emails and web pages, so you’ll want an internal person managing the process and fixing problems. Someone who combines HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills might be called a “front-end developer.”

· PERL engineer: Active marketing websites use a lot of variable content in web pages, and tend to use web page URLs to pass information back and forth. (You will have seen this kind of information after the question mark [?] in a complex URL if you have been looking, which you should be.) PERL is a flexible programming language often used for developing web applications.

Figure 1-3 shows introductory notes to the PERL programming language from the U.S. National Institute of Standards. PERL is widely used in government for its facility with statistics, among other reasons. You can download the notes

What makes a sales lead valid?

A major purpose for websites today is generating valid sales leads; adding information to existing sales leads; and verifying that sales leads are still valid. In order to help gather this information, you need to know what it is.

A valid sales lead for a company has several pieces to it, which are different for different companies. Usually, a sales lead for a business-to-business site includes

· Name: People love the sound of their own names. If you want to contact people again, you really need to get this information, and to get it right.

· Email address: If only one piece of information can be gathered, this is it. Even without a name, the email address allows you to contact a person again and to detect when the same person enters his email address on your site again. In most cases, you want to be sure to get a company email address.

· Phone number: Most solid marketing sites prioritize phone number, along with name and email address. With the phone number, you can call a prospect to see if he’s interested in buying.

· Company name: It’s old-fashioned to ask people about their company — how many employees it has, what its sales revenues are, and so on. Instead, the modern approach is to just get the company name (and perhaps division or department name), and then merge that information with a database that has current information about huge numbers of companies.

· Address: This may not actually be very important for reaching people by snail mail. It’s more for geotargeting — for instance, identifying which prospects to invite to which of your events on a marketing tour, or identifying which division or department of a company a given company employee works for.

· Job title: Combined with company name, this is a crucial piece of information for identifying who from the leads database a company wants to contact for follow-up on a given product or within a given marketing campaign. CxOs may be invited to a special meeting at a trade show; middle managers might get a special offer. (CxO is a newish term covering CEOs, CFOs, and so on. This group is also sometimes referred to as the C-suite.)

There’s lots more information that can be gathered, but it’s important that the core fields for a sales lead be kept as few as possible; the fewer fields, the easier it is to get more leads. Find out what information is required for a valid sales lead in your organization and find out how the company website interacts with the leads database. (“Not at all” is not a very good answer.)

An e-commerce site

Even simple sites can have an e-commerce capability, but this is usually an outsourced capability that’s driven by a shared web page or small amounts of HTML and/or CSS that allow an external e-commerce capability to appear to be part of other sites.


Figure 1-3: You can get notes about the PERL language from the U.S. National Institute of Standards.

The e-commerce sites that most people are familiar with are database-driven sites that also have a marketing component built in. They can be exceedingly complex. The most well-known example of an e-commerce site is Amazon, which is so robust that it has spawned off a separate web software development platform, Amazon Web Services.

E-commerce sites support many functions at the same time. Their core capability, however, is the capability to complete a sale online.

As you can imagine, this puts a whole new kind of pressure on all the other capabilities included in an e-commerce website. Web pages showing products have to be easy to access, easy to use, and effective at gathering clicks from interested users to perform their part in online business. Similar considerations hold for the entire site.

In addition to the skills described in previous sections, and oftentimes a layer of management to supervise multiple contributors in a given role, job titles required for a robust e-commerce site are likely to include

· UX designer (short for user experience designer, also called a visual designer): This job goes beyond even the interaction designer role to take responsibility for the user’s entire experience on the website, which of course should often result in a sale where an e-commerce site is involved.

· Art director (also known as a design director): An art director is the boss of everyone who touches the look of the site, making sure it all works together and that there is a consistent visual appearance that evolves and improves over time.

Educational institutions

Just about all colleges and universities, and a great majority of elementary schools and secondary schools, have their own websites. In some cases, the site is like a company’s brochureware site — it provides basic information about the school and who’s who in the school’s administration. However, more and more sites, especially college or university sites, are quite advanced. Here are the core functions that most college and university websites, and a growing number of sites for younger students, offer:

· Describe what the school’s focus is: People who learn of a school often wonder what makes that school stand out. Is it a somewhat generic school that provides needed educational services for its geographic area, or does it stand out in some way? The website will have an About section that allows a school to stake a claim as to how it’s special, and those special characteristics will be reflected in other site content and functionality as well.

· Show where the school is: The website describes where the school is located. This can be a single building, an extensive campus, or multiple campuses — some schools even have study-abroad offices located in other countries.

· Announce who administrators are: Key administrators are listed online; often, there’s a searchable directory of the entire staff.

· Sell school-related stuff: A school’s website can include an online bookstore, for textbooks and possibly for other books, and all sorts of merchandise, often branded tchotchkes like fluffy toys representing the school’s mascot.

· Tell you how to apply: Most schools have an application process, and the website is the place to find out about it.

· Tell you how to get a job: The school’s website is a great place to go to find current job openings and how to apply.

· Keeping in touch: Many schools will offer subscriptions to an email newsletter to keep you up to date. (Don’t be surprised if signing up results in your receiving fundraising emails.)

· Signing up for courses, viewing assignments, turning in homework: Many schools do a lot of academic support work online, which is expensive to set up and support, but ultimately less expensive than any other way of accomplishing the same things.

Like a company’s brochureware site, the non-interactive parts of a school’s website are developed largely to save money, while providing easier access, easier updating, and better ease of use. The interactive parts save money too.

What kinds of website developers are needed for an educational institution’s site? The roles are similar to the brochureware site described earlier — a designer for the site, a graphic designer, a writer, and an analyst for site traffic. For the many school sites that support academic services such as signing up for courses and turning in homework, there may also be people for database access and interaction design.

How to make a career with Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is easily the leader among cloud service providers. This new category provides a cloud platform — the capability to develop, test, and run software and database services in the cloud, completely away from the customer’s premises.

Cloud service providers allow organizations to add capability without buying servers of their own. The catch is that Amazon offers its own technology bundle for creating new capabilities; developers can’t simply run their own internal software on Amazon’s servers.

Using Amazon Web Services is designed to be easy, but there are more than a dozen separate services included under the Amazon Web Services umbrella. Just learning what they are and how they work together is a chore. Figuring out how a business might use these services together, how that fits with the business’s existing computing services, and what it might cost to provision and run a new capability internally versus on Amazon Web Services versus on competitors is a major headache. Of course, web development is full of people who take something that others see as a headache and make a fun challenge out of it.

But, to coin a modern proverb, in disorder, there is profit. If you become expert at creating web services on the AWS platform, or even specifying, overseeing the delivery of, and running such services, you may be set in your career direction for a long time to come.