The Joomla! Community Magazine™

Do You Know Who You Are?

Written by | Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:00 | Published in 2014 January
A few years ago I had a very simple view of what I understood I did and who I was when it came to website creation. I described my business as Website Design and myself as a website designer.
Do You Know Who You Are? Image courtesy Chiara Aliotta (www.untilsunday.it)

In October 2013 I attended JoomlaDay UK 2013 and was privileged to watch Chiara Aliotta (http://www.untilsunday.it) present a keynote on "Fighting for the Pixel". Her keynote inspired me to write this article.

To be fair, this has never caused a problem with the public and customers. To give some context, I probably need to include a little about my perspective and how I operate. I am a one man band business and I build websites pretty much all on my own. I farm out logo work to a friend who is much more artistic than I am, and use stock templates that I may tweak as needed.

However, at a previous JoomlaDay they asked questions that confused me… was I a 'designer', 'developer' or 'administrator'?

All their presentations were split into these three streams. This caused me some confusion. For a start, I was essentially all three. I didn't fully understand the distinction. As far as I was concerned I am not a 'developer' – my view was they are the people writing code and producing extensions (components, modules and plugins) for Joomla (although one might consider CSS as a form of programming and development which may pull me into that category!). However, some of the developer presentations were suitable and interesting to me. The designer stream equally had some elements that interested me, and yes, I did 'Administration', didn't everyone?

So which was I?

In parallel with this, I had a customer who wanted a very specific design he had drawn in Powerpoint (oh my!) as his template for his site. I was no good at template creation so I sent the picture and a module position map out to some Joomla companies for a quote. I was expecting them to take the picture/design and come back saying £X to create a template. Again I was confused with the questions that came back. Did I want them to 'design' the template professionally, produce high quality psd files or just use what I had supplied. I didn't understand - just take the picture and make it into a template with these modules available was my thinking, what do they mean design it - I had sent the design to them, hadn't I?

Back to Chiara. Her keynote was beautifully illustrated and very clearly presented. It explained to me clearly the role of a good designer and how they work with a developer to produce an end product for a client. How they often have no knowledge of Joomla and building a website, but do understand web presentation concepts to some extent. Mainly she explained the designer will design what looks great, involving moving images and elements given the web is more dynamic than static paper. However, the developer will have to work with the designer to decide what is possible and what is either impossible or too expensive to deliver. I will stop there as you would be better seeing the presentation from Chiara - http://www.slideshare.net/chiaraaliotta7/fight-for-the-pixel .

I finally saw the light of what was meant by a 'web designer' in the community. Personally I still don't think I fit into any of the "JoomlaDay" categories and would probably define my position with a new one "Website Builder" or possibly "Website Creator".

I remember an English comedian telling a joke about himself, assuming it was funny (as others would have thought the same thing), and then noting he may have made a fool of himself in front of the nation if no one else had gotten it! It is always dangerous to write an article such as this, as probably I have just exposed my stupidity to the world. But maybe, just maybe, someone else is as confused as I was.

So, 'do YOU know who you are'?

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Tagged under Designers, English
Ian Nelson

Ian Nelson

Ian is the Proprietor of Neltek Web Design - www.neltek.com - a one man band web development business specialising in Joomla!. He also works for the UK National Health Service, is a Governor of his local First School and a father to a lively six year old.

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Hi Ian, I can relate as I have the same dilemma.

I am certainly not a Web Designer but have desribed myself as such to certain people to get the message across that I build websites.

Depending on the audience, I will sometimes describe myself as a Web Developer because I occasionally write PHP code and tweak CSS and HTML.

I have also had some success with SEO but am not especially comfortable describing myself as an SEO Guru or SEO Expert.

In reality, "Website Builder" is probably the most apt description for what I do. Unfortunately, this is only understood by people within the industry at the moment.

Thanks for the article!
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Thanks for the comments Neil.
Glad you enjoyed the article.
I agree to the wider world of clients Web Designer is probably the best term for all round understanding.
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Hi friend, thanks a lot for sharing who you are! Really this article enlighten me. Again i put myself on the track and i can realize the journey to become a good joomla developer/designer/admin.

I am using Joomla! for developing websites for clients. Primarily i focus local businesses around my city, in Tamil Nadu, India. Hope I deserve it to continue and happy 2014!
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Hi Ian,
I'm very much in the same boat as you as I'm also a one-man band and website creator, builder, maintainer, administrator and live in the UK too!

I like the power point presentation and wish I could have been there for the words that accompany it - I assume that was even more useful.

Anyway thanks for the article and link, it's helped me get back to first principles of design and build though I would put more emphasis on pre-project research and agreement with the client of their requirements, particularly what is absolutely essential and what would be be 'nice to have'.
Cheers
Pauk
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Hi Paul
Thanks for the comments - much appreciated.
I agree on your points about how important pre-project research and agreement on requirements are.
I think these are covered in many Joomla! magazine articles with slightly different emphases highlighting good practice on how to ensure a project is successful and pitfalls to avoid.

Chiara is very good at presenting and indeed it was a great presentation to witness.

regards

Ian
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Ian Hi,

Believe it or not there are many others out there that they fill the same way. If it is not too risky, I would say the majority of us are in a similar situations
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Hello Ian, thanks for the honest article! I sometimes question what I do as well... I write code and administer a website, but only one website. I don't know if I can say I develop websites, because i don't develop websites (plural), I manage one website. I guess I fall under "administrator".

Maybe you fall under "Web Master"? A term not used much these days. You make things happen though, you're a Project Manager, you work with who you need to, to get the job done for your clients.
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I think You hit the nail on the head here, Ian. I am in a similar position as the one you describes. I'm doing websites, tweaking pro templates. I do have basic css-skills, understand php and do my best concerning best SEO-priciples.
I think one of my main problems is, that when you are not an sexpert in your field, but generally good at most things, you tend to think you are not good enough. because there is allways someone, who is better than You are.
And the reason I love the Joomla community is, that there is allways someone out there who is willing to help out.
I resently completed a course in App design, which really was not about app design, but on the process of designing, and I fully understand your dilemma concerning the reply from your designer/programmer.
One of the things I learned, was that You have to be very specific, when You contact a programmer/designer. You need to write everything down and stay in contact with your designer all the time.
But your question: Do you know, who you are?
I do not know. I make websites, Tweak Joomla templates, do graphic word, and as I am a journalist by profession, I also take charge of content as well as photos.
So what am I? A web-tweaker?
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If you are confused, try to think yourself not as a designer, developer, sitebuilder, or web-content-creator, but a web expert, who has different level of competence in designing, developing, etc. :)
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Interesting question and you are no fool with the knowledge you possess- I am both as well.

The angst I have felt when color coordinating button shadow pixels, writing streamlined code, knowing just-what-I-want to make the perfect website, Plus keeping up on trends and what the search engines want now. And taking the time to do it right.

It pays off... My struggle is determining what is perfect enough. It never stops.
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Good article, Ian.

When you are a sole proprietor slash freelance website creator you really must wear all hats. With the availability of many attractive templates and third party extensions, the design aspects are less structural in nature. Not too many of us are designing in Photoshop and then slicing up a psd and assembling it in HTML anymore. Thank god.

The soft skills that allow us to work with a wide variety of clients are also very important. We need to be good communicators. We need to be flexible yet at times tactful with clients when they present design requests that we know are ill-conceived.

In the sole freelancer Joomla world the developer/ designer distinction is really meaningless. I do share your view that Developers are those people with the knowledge and ability to author frameworks and extensions. Often times though you must have the CSS and HTML (sometimes PHP as well) skills to get what you need from a CMS.

You do need to know when and where to get help occasionally. That is a skill in itself.

Cheers,

Roger
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It is quite difficult to explain to customers that doesn't understand web concepts what is web design and web developer. Well, everybody ask me why I bought a domain with typo for my main project, I say that this is brand building in addition to try to represent new generation of web, where everybody should be all rounders in web design, development, graphic design and SEO.
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Nail on the head, Ian.

I am a one man band so-to-speak as well and I struggle with the basic definitions of my work. Do I do business as my own name for tax purposes or do I represent myself as something more? Hopefully, I can fulfill the roles of multiple others, doing great work and building my client base at the same time. From content generation, marketing flavor additions and corrections, to the IT work of running a website and email campaign to enter a contest, or more. I struggle with how to define my role and sometimes default to calling myself Director of MIH (or Make It Happen). I suppose we have reached the frontiers of language and require a new word.
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Keith Mountifield Friday, 24 January 2014
Excellent article Ian, It highlights a tension that we all have to deal with, perception.

Yes, within the community there is a certain perception of what designers, developers and builders are and do. But, is the same perception true for clients? When meeting a new client do you now call yourself a web site builder, developer or designer? Or do you change your title (as I do) depending on the client's needs and attitude?

Glad I'm not the only one who needs to change hat regularly :)
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Good article Ian, I feel the same way daily. I work with a company that has multiple entities and I am the one man web creator. From design, to development, to graphic design I do it all. Its pain stacking at times and identifying which I really am has crossed my mind many times. Its painful to narrow it down then realize each of these categories should come with an individual salary. Its a lot of work as you know. Good luck!!
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So do I... I don't know who I am, but I know i can create beautiful websites with Joomla! haha...
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