Website Developers Who Do It All Are History
The field of website development has evolved dramatically over the last 20 years. Most businesses now require their website developer to wear many hats — and often, a cape as well. They want their developer to be everything from a problem solver to a poet, from a graphic designer to a guru. Your web developer has to know not only how to build your website, but also where everything should go, what your website should do, who it’s for and why visitors will be drawn to the site.
Now add therapist, marketing expert, artist, photographer, structural designer, information architect and project manager into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a superhuman — someone more at home in a Marvel comic book than in the real world. That’s what website developers are up against, when really, they’re just human beings who are most comfortable working at a computer all day.
The Origin Story
It used to be — in the long-forgotten stone age of the internet, the 1990s — that all you needed was a nerd with a knack for writing code to become your website developer. There was little more to a website than lines of text created from Hypertext Markup Language (aka HTML). Just being able to share this text with other web users around the globe was amazing enough.
When Mosaic hit the scene in the late 1990s, the web developer world went crazy. Everyone realized they were sitting on the cutting edge of, well, everything. Graphics, movies, games, online shopping: as fast as web developers could dream up new ideas for what was then called the “world wide web,” they could quickly make it become a reality. Creative website developers were creating their own obsolescence in a way, everyday.
Bigger bandwidth, broader networks and multimedia gave website developers more toys — and challenges — than ever before. To stand out among a growing crowd, they had to use every trick in the book. And when mobile devices hit the scene hard after the tech bubble crash in 2001, all bets were off.
Web developers were starting to get savvy; no longer was it cool just to be a nerd with an idea to code. Nerds had to learn to talk to corporate types, sell their ideas and get funding for their new apps if they were going to survive. Video streaming, ecommerce applications and a slew of new multimedia options exploded online. Only the smartest, nimblest and sometimes luckiest nerds could keep up.
But the few who made it — and you know their names — made a big splash; now they count their assets by the million. They set a shiny bar really high, and with so much promise, so much potential in the internet still to come, no developer worth his weight in sim cards wants to quit, especially in the age of IoT — the Internet of Things era — when everything from your TV to your toilet is getting connected and upgraded.
It Takes a Village
Yes, that’s a cliché, but guess what — phrases like “it takes a village” become clichés when they’ve been true for so long and have been repeated so often that they’ve become kind of folk legends. But today, only a very few small-town website developers, those who service mainly the micro-business community consisting mainly of solopreneurs, can do it all. They’ve got to have a good eye for aesthetics, the knack for coding, an idea of what content to plug in and the customer service talent to manage clients who often expect excellent everything for as little as a couple hundred dollars.
That breed of superhuman is dying out, just as successful door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen before them. Today, the most proficient website developers work with a team. Any website professional who claims he can do it all likely can’t do any of it well. It’s too much to know and be really good at. Specialization makes website developers more efficient; they can focus on what they love to do: sit in front of a computer all day and code.
A Team Approach
Being part of a team allows for a greater depth and variety of projects. It makes life more interesting when you can bounce ideas and opinions off of other professionals whose expertise lies in other areas. Large website development firms employ more specialists, while smaller, more nimble development companies use third-party contractors — including Ray Access.
Every website development team relies heavily on project managers who keep it all together and keep the client happy. The other skills inherent in every website developer’s process include:
- Envisioning the total project
- Developing a navigational structure
- Writing compelling content
- Designing the look and feel
- Coding to build the website
- Drawing graphical elements
- Shooting professional photographs
- Making engaging videos
- Editing the content
- Marketing the website
The lone web developer — one who envisions, develops, writes, designs, codes, draws, shoots, makes, edits and markets his own website is one of those rare birds who soon will appear on Wikipedia as an endangered species. While everyone loves superheroes, being one takes a lot of dedication and diversification. If you need help with a certain specialty, find it.