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Jon W6,185 Points
When am I ready to go job hunting?
Although I come from an IT background I have not worked in the web industry before. Over years I've been building sites on the side for friends/family and small clients but didn't take it seriously until recently.
My question is what is a sufficient skill-set to be taken seriously by an employer?
The problem I have is that the term "Web Designer" is very broad. I see people who who label themselves as such, they build sites but aren't good 'designers', their sites don't look particularly great or usable. Not having a dig at these people because I myself am not a great designer and it's definitely the part which slows me down when working on a project. On the other hand we have people with a design background who know a little HTML/CSS and not much else in terms of development.
Then there is the term "Front-end Developer" or "Engineer". How do they differ to a web designer?
When I look at job listings for a junior role, they like to list about every single web technology out there. Is that realistic for a junior position? Do they expect you to be an expert with everything?
Also when they require skills in JS/JQuery, what does that mean in the real world? I could probably code some fancy effects, a photo slider etc but not quite ready to make a full web application.
I'm going to start applying anyway, just to see if I get any response with my current CV and experience, but just wanted to have an open discussion here as it feels like I am going out into the unknown!!
Jeremy Germenis29,854 Points
Each business likes to do things a certain way and expect that new hires will not know every skill needed. Two things that will help you stand out are:
- To be able to show that you can learn and implement a new skill within a reasonable amount of time
- That you have a general understanding of programming structure, methodology, and standards
Lastly, go to an interview with a learning mindset and ask questions. Someone performing an interviewing is trying to gauge if you have the proper skill set to perform the job. They can tell you what you are lacking, so ask them and work on those skills.
I actually work at a web development agency where we segment our team into web designers, front-end developers and back-end developers. Every business place has a different definition of what these roles entail and sometimes the line between one and another can be blurry, but I've found that the way we segment these roles at my agency is pretty standard. It's typically segmented in by design, client-side code and server-side code. To explain how they differ, I think it makes more sense to describe the typical agency process:
First, you start out making a design. This is the role of the WEB DESIGNER. He will typically work mostly in Illustrator and Photoshop making mockups of the site and often will go as far as writing the initial HTML and CSS for the site. Again, the extent to which a web designer will get into coding varies, but they are mostly in charge of the aesthetic look of the site and the layout of the site's components.
Lastly, this working template is handed off to the BACK-END DEVELOPER. This person is in charge of all the server-side programming. That is, PHP, Ruby On Rails or whatever the project may require. This guy will code out the CMS (like WordPress) and pretty much add all the functionality that will require the site to communicate with a server. For instance, they'll add the functionality that will make the form that the designer and front-end dev made actually send emails back and forth, maybe they'll add functionality that will allow the site to fetch images for the gallery from a social media site, and create any of the other data-drive functionality that has to do with JASON, AJAX or XML being fetched or sent out. They'll also deal with all the functionality like storing and handling data for users (such as passwords or profile information) and do also manage all the database stuff.
Again this is the most common segmentation of these three areas, but they are not always this cut-and-dry in the real world. In reality, the process is rarely that ordered. A site will go back in forth between these people and they work on stuff simultaneously pretty often. Smaller places will sometimes join two of the roles into one, or sometimes have one person do everything. Sometimes designers only make static mockups in Illustrator/Photoshop and never write a single piece of code. Other times, they don't even use those and go straight to prototyping in HTML and CSS. It all really depends on the particular process of the agency or business place, but overall, when people refer to any of those roles, I think what I explained is the standard segmenting of those roles.