Too often, I see job opening advertisements that seem unrealistic. There are quite a few organizations that advertise for Web gurus, and don’t really know what they’re looking for. The first distinction that needs to be made is between a Web designer and a Web developer. The two are generally mutually exclusive, and it is extremely rare that you will find one person that can do both jobs well. Unfortunately, a lot of these organizations don’t find that out until it’s too late. They hire someone who talks a good game, but just can’t bring anything to the table once they’re asked to do something.
You can be a great designer and know a little bit about Web development. You can be a great developer and be a decent designer. However, in the majority of cases (although the professionals themselves may not recognize it), they do not excel at both. In the worst case, you’ll end up with someone who’s mediocre at both. In the best case, you’ll end up with someone who’s really good at one, but average at the other. In nine cases out of 10, I can usually tell within a few seconds by looking at the home page of a Web site whether it was designed by a Web developer, coded by a Web designer or done by at least two professionals.
So, the real question for any organization looking to redevelop (or develop for the first time) their presence on the Web, is what you really want out of your Web site. Do you want a nice looking Web site that may or may not function consistently across various browsers and operating systems, or do you want a Web site that will function consistently with a few bells and whistles (interactivity – again, that will function consistently). There are pros and cons to each.
If you want both (which you probably do), you really should consider advertising for two separate positions. If you play your cards right, you could hire a designer that’s capable of designing for print, as well.
When advertising for the positions, you should set up a clear separation of duties in order to ensure that you hire the best people for each. In my opinion, Flash development should be the responsibility of the designer. Flash is really a design application that requires a minimal amount of coding.
Also, when advertising for the developer position, make sure you understand what resources you already have and which ones you’re willing to acquire. If you already have a Web server and you are not willing to consider replacing it, you need to find out what operating system, server package, database management system(s) and interpreter(s) are used on the server. That will make a big difference in the types of developers you hire. If you have a Windows IIS server running MS SQL and ASP.NET, hiring a developer experienced in Linux, apache, MySQL and PHP will make it difficult for him to hit the ground running (though, any good developer will be capable of picking up a new language when immersed in it for a few months).