What is this job called?
October 7, 2005 11:17 AM   Subscribe

What would you call a web job that has the following duties...

Rignt now I am an experienced web designer with a major university. I was asked today what my career plans were, and what I'd like to be doing in the future. I came up with a list of things I would like in a future job, but was at a loss to what that job would be called. So, here's what the job would entail: Taking content from someone and designing the look, feel, and navigation of a site. Providing direction to programmers and coders to make the site happen. Focus on standards compliance, browser compatability, while not worrying about "grunt work". Knowing how PHP, JSP and ASP work, but not actually writing them by hand. Right now I do a lot of this, but then actually build the pages myself. Would this be a Creative Director? Information Architect? Usability Guru?
posted by quibx to Work & Money (18 answers total)
As I was reading I though of Information Architect, but I see you've already got that listed. Unfortunately in my experience you will get a lot of 'huh?s' if you tell people that's what you are.

Go forth and spread the word anyway! You are an information architect! Or maybe a consultant.
posted by lyam at 11:20 AM on October 7, 2005

In the film world, what you describe would be called a producer or executive producer.

The difficulty in using "producer" outside of film, is that people think "production", which leads them to think that you do all the grunt work.


I'll second, then, IA.
posted by silusGROK at 11:31 AM on October 7, 2005

Please please please please please DO NOT CALL YOURSELF A "GURU"!!!

Thank you.
posted by cmonkey at 11:31 AM on October 7, 2005

Your list is exactly what I do. My business card says "Senior Designer," but since my company is small & I'm cross-trained in many disciplines, I wear many, MANY more hats. Among others in my industry, I tend to lean towards saying I'm an Information Architect, because I prefer that aspect of my work over all others. I'm usually the lead consultant on projects and spend a lot of time in meetings.

I'm hardly ever introduced by my existing job title or any I might try to make up. I've yet to find one that satisfies me or is understood by clients, so I just tell folks what I *do* rather than what I or they might think I am called.

If I were to look for another job, though, I'd look for a high-level Information Architect or just about anything with "Director" or "Manager" in the title.
posted by Sangre Azul at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2005

Sounds like a producer--analogous to a product manager
posted by lrivers at 11:54 AM on October 7, 2005

There are some good books out there about Information Architecture for the Web. Read some of them and see if that's what you want to do.
posted by matildaben at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2005

Operations Manager or Development Coordinator, perhaps. Neither of them really include the design aspect though, which is what I'd really appreciate from a manager.
Creative Director sounds good.

Unless you are an information architect (with a very solid grasp of usability, information presentation and structure) I wouldn't try calling yourself that. It's a buzzword pothole, just like XML and Java were - you may say that you can do these things, but as soon as your boss hears the new slang and asks you to do it you're first with his head over the trench. It's too deep a field to try and brush up on the details the night before a presentation.
posted by NinjaPirate at 11:58 AM on October 7, 2005

but, but, what about "webmaster"?

I'd go with Design Director. Info Archetect sounds cool, though.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on October 7, 2005

Lord Commander Of Web Solutions.
posted by spiderskull at 12:14 PM on October 7, 2005

The standards compliance and language knowledge(without gruntwork) seems like it deserves an Analyst specification. Sr. Web Analyst?
posted by mnology at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2005

That sounds a lot like my husband's job, and he is, indeed, an information architect. They have an institute, even.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:26 PM on October 7, 2005

That sounds like my husband's job, and he is called an Information Architect.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2005

Do they have an institute? ; )
posted by lyam at 12:44 PM on October 7, 2005

You're either a Project Manager, a Technical Architect (if your soltuions are technical in nature), or an Information Architect (if your solutions are more content / people oriented).

Take your pick. But know that each comes with a slightly different trajectory. I did IA (and PM) work for a university a ways back. My official university title, that I never used and only knew because it controls the payscale, was "Systems Analyst II" or some such. My cards said "Assistant Director of Technology." This was for a stand-alone research center inside of the wider university, so I got away with it. If I'd been inside of the university's IT department, I woulda picked "Information Architect."
posted by zpousman at 12:54 PM on October 7, 2005

As an information architect myself, I wanted to weigh in on your very interesting question. I don't think the job you described is an information architect. Not exactly. Well, kind of. Here's why...

I've practiced IA for five years, and the job usually includes some or all of the following:
1. Performing user/audience research such as task analysis, card sorts, focus groups, survey and questionnaire design, etc.;

2. Incorporating the research findings into production documents. These include:
A. Use cases and/or process flows, to illustrate how the site/system will react to various types of user input and errors;
B. User personas, which are based on known user groups and their goals, and are used to "walk through" different aspects of the site and judge their appropriateness;
C. Site maps (which aren't so much designing the navigation itself, only specifying the nav's categories and the content that they'll hold);
D. Wireframes, to illustrate page content and functionality, but not necessarily page design;

3. Performing usability testing on existing sites/systems, new prototypes or beta sites/systems, then reporting your findings and ensuring fixes are made;

4. Huge amounts of justification and arguing with your colleagues. : )

A lot of folks might argue with the duties above. Information architecture is still a young field, with responsibilities that span several production phases. And not every organization or project requires all of the above.

Complicating matters is that most IAs practicing today came from another field. I grew up in copywriting and editorial production; others were designers or programmers (sounds like you've spanned both) even librarians and anthropologists. And during the dot-com crash, my experience was that the IA not only performed his/her own job, but "pitched in" on whatever else they used to do in their earlier life. I still end up writing a lot of the sites I do the IA on.

The job you described sounds more along the lines of a user interface designer... someone who would take the site maps and wireframes from an IA and translate them into workable, attractive, usable designs... but then hands off the production of the site to a developer.

It sounds like you're pretty experienced, so I'd consider titles like UI Design Director, User Interface Manager... something that spans the design and technical aspects of the job and your expertise.

Whatever you choose (and who knows, it might still be information architect) good luck. It sounds like they appreciate what you do and want to keep you around!
posted by CMichaelCook at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

Someone mentioned Creative Director, that title has a very specific meaning in advertising and I would advise against it for you.

Architects are, in my mind, usually more independent so Information Architect would be appropriate if you were doing the same work consulting.

In my experience titles should reflect your place in an organization: coordinator>supervisor>manager>director>executive. Figure out where you fall in that chain and stick Web Services in front of it. It will be better for you to have an appropriate title if you ever try to get a job out in the real world.
posted by Mr T at 4:41 PM on October 7, 2005

I have similar duties at work and they call me an Interactive Specialist. Which is a little ironic since I consider myself a generalist, at least within the realm of digital design and production.
posted by macinchik at 4:46 PM on October 7, 2005

Project manager.
posted by amery at 9:19 PM on October 9, 2005

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