So in light of the fact that I maybe be unemployed soon due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve started to reacquaint myself with the job market and the jobs that I might be qualified for. It’s been an interesting experience to say the least. Unfortunately, there seems to be two prevailing job types:
- Marketing position – involves either designing e-mail campaigns include HTML e-mails, which are not fun at all, or some sort of SEO / social networking skills to drive traffic to the site.
- Jack of all trades – involves 7+ years experience in design (Adobe Suite), front end (XHTML & CSS), middleware (PHP, Java, Ruby, etc) and MySql. Basically able to design web applications from the ground up.
So, being a realist, I have to assume the deficiency is with me. However, I’ve worked for two separate professional organizations and both needed someone that was only a subset of what I’m looking to take on. So is there no middle ground? Can you only do the icing or the whole cake? I hope not.
The main issue lies in that to be a good UI developer you have to focus on the changing field. New browsers are released every year and updates are made. You have to be aware of what bugs exist in major browsers – especially Microsoft ones – and understand quickly how to fix the rendering issues in those. You also have it identify web trends (web 2.0 design, AJAX integration, etc) and include them in beautiful and usable designs. By broadening focus too much – to middleware or backend development – you lose the ability to do that. I realize you don’t want to be too specialized but I feel crafting a beautiful design, coding it with web standards and cross browser capability in mind, and inserting any jQuery effects that add to it is a pretty big slice of the pie, so to speak.
Also, design and UI work is more artistic versus middleware / backend which is much more logical and analytical. So it’s very difficult to be of those two minds. I just feel expanding the focus to that is going to dilute the whole output. Finally, it really is of no interest to me to design controllers or write queries so I feel my output would not be as useful or good as something I’m passionate about like the front end.
So I don’t know what the answer is. But I’m discouraged moving forward. It does make me wish I had taken more time to grow my freelance portfolio as this would be the perfect time to make that jump and see if I could make it on that. Unfortunately, it’s just not an option.
Advice or insight welcome.