Perhaps no industry has a wider range of mysterious job titles than web design. One might spend hours wondering the difference between a “People Operations Coordinator” and a “Project Manager”. Is the first one a great way to describe the second one? The poster only knows the answer.
The titles that organizations miss seem to be an attempt to differentiate themselves from competitors. Why go through life as a “Customer Support Representative” when you can be “Happiness Engineer”? Even if the pay is lower, the prestige is much higher. It is also undeniable proof that your new employer thinks outside the box.
This line of thinking has a number of unintended side effects. These gimmicky job descriptions tend to provoke a lively debate. Some within the web design community use titles as a means to exclude individuals. Confirming Tweets “Don’t call yourself a Full Stack Developer unless you know x, y, and z” they were invited unsatisfactory argument.
For the sake of our mental health and well – being, I say it’s time to look at past titles. Here are some ideas on how to focus on what matters.
Official Audio Titles and Arbitrary Portals
Part of the issue stems from the fact that there are very few, if any, universal certifications in web design. There are badges from big companies like Google and Microsoft on areas like information technology. But there’s no official way to get certified in WordPress, say (and you won’t get a graduation ceremony with Matt Mullenweg awarding diplomas).
In fact, anyone can call themselves a designer or a developer. And anyone can question whether we are “developer enough” to qualify for a job.
The term “full steel” seems particularly burdensome. If I can design and build a website from start to finish, maybe I fit the bill? But does that still apply if I rely on ready – made scripts or plugins? It really depends on who you ask. Feel free to post the question on social media – be prepared for the inevitable disagreements.
These arbitrary definitions move beyond the public and also enter organizations. What one employer considers to be an “SEO Developer” may be very different elsewhere.
And it is difficult for us to quantify those of us who have worked independently for several years. Real life project experience means something. But would it be of equal value in the job market and in formal education?
We Should Consider Results, Not Words Buzz
The real test for any of us is what we do – not how someone else would categorize us. In practice, that means demonstrated results. And there are many ways to do it.
Your portfolio can say a lot about what you have achieved. Case studies that detail the technologies you used and what you learned along the way are great reinforcements.
Then there is the act of being a part of something bigger than yourself. Contributing to an open source project demonstrates not only your skills but your ability to work as part of a team. Dependence is also part of the equation. These are things that every employer should value.
If you are just starting out in the industry, you may not have much history to go on. But that doesn’t make you less talented or committed. You can still demonstrate results through personal projects or educational achievements.
While titles are intended to be a simpler method of assessing skills, they are not a more accurate representation of what you have done. That should be the last way to evaluate a web professional.
Avoid Falling into the Title Trap
One of the reasons I love the “Grumpy Designer” moniker is that it accurately describes who I am. To be sure, I am friendly (not bite). But it does reflect a somewhat cynical view of current “essential” trends and skills.
It’s also inspiring about how the industry tries to put us in the box. If we only listened to titles, none of us would dare go into business outside our assigned lane. That could lead to less innovation and a lot of individual boredom. People who are not allowed to grow and evolve, will not want to abide by them.
And web design is one of the few occupations that has an unlimited range of possibilities. There is still an opportunity to learn every day. It’s something you can’t fully capture.
With that, let’s stop searching for a certain title or let ‘s define ourselves with one. Instead, focus on tangible results. The goals will be different for everyone – and that’s the point.