There is a common assumption among those who do not work in a technical field that because an individual is qualified to do one type of technical work, they are qualified to do it all.
Everyone hears it at some point. The dreaded phrase “well you work on computers so you must know…”.
“So, you work on computers so you must know about web design.”
“You build websites so how do I fix X on my computer?”
I’m not entirely sure how this mindset came about. When you think about it, do you go to a proctologist if you have skin problems? Of course not! You see the dermatologist.
The technical field, and the creative field related to it, are just like all other fields: there are specialists. Technology is not magic. And work in this field does not happen as fast as it does in TV and movies, any more than we find cures to major diseases in the span of time it takes to run a movie.
I can’t tell you how many web designer job postings that basically come down to this: they want someone to run their servers, fix their desktops, manage their databases, design their websites, and promote their websites. I’ve even seem some that want someone to write some kind of proprietary software for their company. I’ve seen others that want an administrative assistant to makes websites. As someone who began as a secretary, I’ll tell you this: once they can make websites, you can’t afford them as a secretary anymore. Your admin is now moving on to greener pastures.
The “one person for all roles” strategy is not realistic on two levels: ability and time.
No one can do all of that stuff. At the very least, they can’t do it all well. Anyone who claims they can is lying to you and themselves. (Ok, to be fair, there may be a handful of super-geniuses that never slept and have had 20 years to learn ALL of that stuff AND keep up with the changes in those technologies…you can’t afford them.) But lets face it, we’ve heard the phrase: jack of all trades, master of none. Do you really want your desktop support person managing your server security?
The fact that I have a background in technical support makes me a rare web designer, whereas that was pretty much standard 10 years ago. Today, most web designers have a background in art. They are not equipped to fix your computer or server. This also means they aren’t programmers. In fact, there are web designers out there who don’t write HTML or CSS; they just create nice designs in Photoshop and pass them off to web designers and developers that can write HTML and CSS.
While many of us do have some knowledge of other fields related to web design, and some of us have strong knowledge in 2 or 3 fields, this isn’t always the case. And remember, even if we do have that ability, make sure that the person you hire will have enough time in the day to do it all. If you have so much production web design work that your designer has no time for site promotion, you may need to consider splitting the job for two people.
Even if someone has the knowledge and ability to do a number of these tasks, they probably don’t have time to get all of them done. Just trying to do 2 of those things at once is challenging, if not impossible. Who can write code well if they have interruptions to fix desktops all day? You’re typing, you get an interruption, then…”hm, where was I again?”. When you consider how much concentration it takes to do this type of work, you’re looking at a lot of potential problems by constantly interrupting your web designer. At the very least, its going to take a very long time for that project to be completed. It doesn’t matter if they are a web designer, programmer, or database administrator…they can’t stare at code all day and do their job with constant interruptions.
How to Fill All Job Positions
Well, you have a couple of options.
1. Budget for a full-time person for each position
2. Outsource. There are freelancers and small businesses (and even big corporations) out there that specialize in computer repair, and you’ll find another who makes websites, etc. If your small business doesn’t have enough work to keep one person busy in that position and can’t afford to hire a full-time person to do that one thing, then look for a company you can retain to manage it for you.
Just as you don’t use a hammer to fix everything in your house, you won’t use one person to fix everything in your office.
So, which of those two options are used to fill a role where you work? Or have you found other options besides those two?