Web communications mixes technical with playful

January 17, 2010

To be good on the web, we’ve got to do everything from php scripts to Facebook posts.

It takes a systems administrator to think all about security and stability, a writer to think about stringing together great combinations of words and a graphic designer to give a site the perfect look and feel. A developer and programmer make the site smart and functional. You need communicators to decide if social media like Twitter or Facebook can be integrated. So a successful effort requires more than success in a single area.

Web professionals don’t just write and design the pages. We also code the site, write custom applications, test the pages, move them into production, and then, if we’re smart, we even do our best to see what, when, and how people are reading our pages and who they are.

So in newspaper terms, we’re the ones who lubricate a squeaky press and dive in when it breaks, meanwhile we’re reporting, writing, editing, laying out, sending to pre-press, press, collating, rubber-banding our papers and taking them to your porch – preferably a porch that uses Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox. In a very figurative sense, we might even use web analytics to peer over your shoulder just to see what captures your interest.

Our tiny team has a designer, a programmer, a developer and me. When we sit down for our weekly coffee-house get together, the programmer might talk about exploring the best ways to migrate a WordPress site or WP plug-ins he’s written. The developer will chat about his ever-flattening learning curve in Drupal, and his progress testing modules and applying security patches. Meanwhile, the designer might talk about custom headers he’s designing, the intricate styling of a site or usability issues he’s tackling.

I’m the non-technical one. I’m the communications guy, the one who wears golf shirts and tries to explain the web to non-web folks. I’m the one who dabbles in Twitter, calls Facebook work, writes stories and edits homegrown video.   And I’m here to tell you, a good web effort takes a great team with a wide variety of skills and abilities.