[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2014-03-03

Ruminations on web design and system administration

Filed under: Programming,Work — bblackmoor @ 10:18

Now that the Kickstarter is over, I can go back to talking about other things. For example, how happy I am that I am no longer working in web design. The work I would like to do, in decreasing order of preference, is:

  • system administration
  • database administration
  • back-end programming (i.e., not Javascript)
  • project management
  • front end programming (i.e., Javascript)
  • web design

There are reasons why web design is at the bottom of the list. The biggest one is that the people who pay to have that done are too often operating under the false assumption that they know how to do it, and that they just need someone else to do the grunt work of actually using the software. Oatmeal has a pretty funny cartoon on what that’s like for a web designer.

That’s an exaggeration, of course. I am lucky that back when I did web design as my primary profession, I very rarely had clients quite that clueless. A more frequent occurrence was the “we need to Do Something” problem. Smashing Magazine has a pretty decent article on that, but if you have been a user of YahooGroups or FaceBook for any length of time, you have seen that phenomenon in action.

System administration is at the top of the list for even better reasons. For one thing, I simply enjoy it. I like making things work. It’s like working on a car and getting it to run smoothly, but you don’t bang your knuckles or get your hands dirty. Also, success is generally objective: if the system works, that’s success. None of the “that color is too aggressive” type feedback you get when doing web design (I actually had a client say that phrase to me). Of course, there are some subjective measurements of success, even in system administration. For example, you can continue throwing time and money at a database server to increase performance, and the point at which the performance is good enough is a subjective call. Even so, generally speaking, the line between “working” and “not working” is pretty clear. I like that.

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