As a “web person” I will almost always wholeheartedly disagree with putting web jobs within IT. Before you laugh that statement off, let me tell you what I consider each of these titles to mean, and why they don’t mix.
Web Designer: An individual who decides what a site will look like, how it is to be styled. This person can be the one to create the Photoshop (picture) mock-up of the design to the person implementing the design on the set. This person might also design templates for a company, but again, only the actual look. This is usually a one time process, part of the set up or overhaul of a site. (note: this is currently merging with the web developer position)
Web Maintainer: the person who posts the pictures, ads, blogs and other content throughout the site on a regular basis to update the audience.
IT:The people who maintain the technological equipment and systems within a company. They also may start new projects to update and revamp systems for communication and procedures throughout the company. They work on the networks, the printers, email servers, ID badges, information security. Anything that is a digital part of the infrastructure of the day to day operations.
Why do people think they go together?
The traditional thought of why “web people” go with “IT people” is simply. The last sentence of my IT description says it all. “Anything that is a digital-” actually lets just stop there, because most people do. Websites are digital, IT is digital, yup they go together. This is where most businessmen nod their head in approval, and most web designers nod their head into a tabletop repeatedly and groan. You see, Information technology is focused more on the hardware that makes your business run, not necessarily the software behind it. They might be tech gurus because they are around technology all the time, but that does not mean that they can or should, be doing everything digital. Not every IT worker knows about Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization, informational hierarchy on websites. And on that note, not everyone who works in digital stuff knows how to fix a computer! People hold specialized positions for a reason.
Why Shouldn’t they?
Now, there are a lot of businesses that put their web people in the IT department. Sometimes it works, but most of the time, it breeds confusion. It really depends on the type of web person. Neither a web designer, nor a web maintainer should be in the IT department. The designer’s only job is to create pretty layouts. They don’t know how to code, they don’t know how to fix computers, they don’t have a clue how to reconfigure a downed router, and yes I am being overly critical. I once considered myself a web designer and I still hold pride in that. Everyday, however, I was approached with:the printer isn’t working, why is the internet down, my computer wont start, because I was “in IT”. And of course, because I was “in IT” I was expected to know these things.
But the miscommunication can easily be fixed with a better work assignment flow, so what is my hold up? Because they truly do not belong in IT. Designers and maintainers are marketers. They create designs and implement ideas and content based on the message that the company wants to get out to their target audience. Designers don’t do coding, and if they do, it is light coding – not full site creation. Maintainers don’t do any code, they just post content. Neither of those jobs have anything to do with IT except for the fact they are using a computer. It is like saying that a telemarketer knows how to fix the phone system, or that a doctor knows how to build medical equipment. These people could know these things, but it is not a part of their job. You wouldn’t put them in the “maintaining/fixing it” department, you put them in the “using it” department.
How could they?
There is one of the jobs that could go into the IT department, and that is the web developer. The developer is a coder that specializes in web. That doesn’t mean they automatically know how to do any of the IT fix it stuff, but they know how to create systems and infrastructures and build whatever project they need with a lot of different programming languages. They could help the department by building web solutions, but again, they might only be able to create web solutions to the problems the IT department has. Sometimes a digital cloud based infrastructure for a company, this can be phenomenal, and sometimes it can be exactly the opposite of what is needed.
The other issue is that many people offer web projects to the IT people, and while this can create an okay project, most IT people are not trained in User Experience, User Interface, Information Hierarchy Design, and they end up creating a working website that has great features, but can be difficult to use.
So, this may seem radical, or at the very least self serving, but I believe at a certain point, companies just need their own web department. I am not saying that every mom and pop store needs a web department, nor am I even saying that everyone needs a web developer. That is what web design agencies are for (wink wink). What I do believe is that if the company is big enough to have an IT department, department here being the keyword – not a single person you happen to call the department, there should be a web department.
It also depends on the amount of time and effort put into your company’s website, as well as the role of the website in the day to day. If it is constantly evolving and offering new solutions to your business, then you need a developer and a designer. If you are constantly posting information, but never changing the layout etc, hire a maintainer and put them in your marketing department.
So, lets look at the definitions again in terms of when you would need them:
Independent Web Designer: call this person when you need to update the look of your website. (i.e. updating your branding)
Independent Web Developer: call a developer when you need to change what your website actually does (i.e. adding a digital infrastructure for employees)
Web Maintainer: hire this person to keep your audience/customers up to date with what your company does on a daily or weekly basis
Web Department: create this when you are constantly evolving your site’s functions, or have digital web systems that may need maintenance. You need this when you have multiple people using your website as a portal for employment etc.
So in all reality and with the exception of the maintainer, I believe that you should not really have “web people” in house unless you have a department. If you do not have enough back-end web system access, or enough function changes, to require the need for a team of web developers, hire a web development agency when you do.