By using Apprenticeforums services you agree to our Cookies Use and Data Transfer outside the EU.
We and our partners operate globally and use cookies, including for analytics, personalisation, ads and Newsletters.

  • Join our UK Small business Forum

    Helping business owners with every day advice, tips and discussions with likeminded business owners. Become apart of a community surrounded by level headed business folk from around the UK


    Join us!

Jack-of-all and master of none?

PC

PC

New Member
With the business network groups that I attend there are a lot of 'life coaches' with the vast majority of them being women. The general consensus amongst the other members is that it is a non-profession that doesn't require much in the way of tangible qualifications, is easy to get into and almost anyone can call themselves a 'life coach'. They are almost looked down on because they are 10-a-penny.

Looking at the business types on this forum there are a lot of website designers / SEO companies. Can the same thoughts be applied to their industry?

Discuss :D
 
I think this is an issue throughout the creative industries....

At a certain level any idiot can pick up a copy of the appropriate software and produce a basic website/video/leaflet/logo or whatever... And yes; there are some absolute charlatans operating as web designers.

The recent Corbis/Getty debacle highlights the folly of employing such people though. All over the UK (and the rest of the world) small businesses are receiving invoices for thousands of pounds in respect of uncleared copyright material. Now; any competent trained creative would, as a core part of their process, not only know why and how copyright is properly cleared but would maintain an audit trail as part of their project management procedures with which would provide a solid defence to any such action...

I recall (on another forum) pointing this out to one particular flim flam man who was painting himself the innocent victim of a big bad corporation. He 'claimed' to be a professional website designer of some standing. Yet when confronted with what is (to anyone with proper training) standard procedure claimed that what I was suggesting was "impossible".

The notion that professional web design requires little or nothing in the way of training or qualifications is absolute and utter bo**ox! Two years full time study to HND level is about the basic.

As for the 'jack of all trades notion'. Well I've always to smile a wee smile when I see people touting themselves as 'everything and anything'. For instance unless someone's spent eight years in college doing HNDs in Graphic Design, Web Design, Video Production and Photography they'll only be able to do one of those things to what might be termed an acceptable professional degree.

From my own website..... ( Producing a Video; your free guide to the process from TFGtv. )


On budgets more appropriate to small to medium businesses though you should beware the bodger who claims to be everything from expert photographer through graphic designer to web designer through to ace film producer. Each of the specilisms in the creative industries take many years and much training to master. Your business deserves the attention of experts not 'blaggers'.

It's common enough for people to be to some extent multi-skilled. But the mark of a true professional is the knowledge of where their limits lie coupled to the experience to know quality and how it's best achieved. Jack-of-all-trades was master of none; remember? No creative professional worth hiring is so short of work they have to scrabble about desperately taking on anything and everything vaguely creative and/or pretending to be something they're not.

Such behaviour though is very typical of the charlatans who inhabit the fringes of the creative industries. You wouldn't hire a plumber to fit a new brakes to your car nor a motor mechanic to fit a gas heater. Putting the credibility of your business in the hands of an amateur bodger is almost as daft as playing fast and loose with your personal safety.


Most, I'd even be so bold to say any credible web designer will hold either a graphics design or web design qualification possible backed by extra training in their secondary discipline. They'll actively project manage the production of your site. They'll maintain an audit trail and protect your interests at every turn. They'll outsource the production of specialist material to appropriate experts. And they'll be damned sure to distance themselves from the cowboys.

Cowboy web-designers ARE ten a penny; they come they go, rarely lasting long because what they're doing isn't sustainable. But professional web designers are a completely different breed. And it's unfortunate that confusion arises in the minds of the business public.

In the video industry we have similar problems; There's even a so called 'institute' for cowboy videomakers, which for a fee, will 'assess' their work and issue a 'qualification' with the 'right' to put 'letters after their names'. No minimum of three years full time study or 4 1/2 year apprenticeship for these charlatans to earn their 'letters'!!! :mad: But there is a HUGE difference between the flim flam artist and the creative professional. It's up to those of us within the industry who HAVE earned our place there and do know what we're doing to differentiate and distance ourselves from the charlatans....
 
Gordon N

Gordon N

New Member
it is a non-profession that doesn't require much in the way of tangible qualifications, is easy to get into and almost anyone can call themselves a 'personal trainer'. They are almost looked down on because they are 10-a-penny.

Looking at the business types on this forum there are a lot of website designers / SEO companies. Can the same thoughts be applied to them?
Okay so my reply is going to biased, but NO!

I spent over
 
Fair comment Gordon. And of course it's worth pointing out that the CIW is delivered by the University of the West of Scotland and is perfectly credible.

I saw the question aimed more generally at the industry as a whole rather than at forum members. In which respect we appear to be a 'gunsmoke and hooves' free zone. I suspect too that anyone in a Stetson might be quickly ran out of town...
 
PC

PC

New Member
...So is that why you go to these events then, to be surrounded by fitness orientated women?? ;)
Thank goodness the other-half doesnt read this forum :p

I've amended the question to apply to the website / SEO industry in general. I was in no way having a 'pop' at the professionals on this site.
 
Idea15

Idea15

New Member
I had been doing web sites as a hobby for 10 years (first as a favour for a friend, and then in any workplace situation I was in.) When I decided to go pro, I signed up for a professional CIW course. I got the textbooks and smugly rolled my eyes and said "naah, I don't have to read that stuff."

What then followed was me eating a lot of humble pie...

The difference between amateur and professional design is like the difference between keeping a backyard garden and being a professional landscape designer. What I know now, compared to what I knew as a hobbyist, is apples and oranges. I'm proud to run a web deisgn business which combines that certified professional knowledge with my experience in marketing and communications. My clients don't just get someone who knows how to arrange pictures and text. They get someone who helps them decide which text to write, who to aim it at, how to get it into search engines, and how to make sure that web site looks the same for all visitors in all browsers.

As a professional web site designer, you learn very quickly that you are not competing against cowboy designers, nor do you have to worry about them. I would say that 60% of the work I do is making second and third web sites for clients who either went with a cowboy designer, or an off-the-shelf "make yer site in minutes" box, or, worst of all, left their web site to their 14 year old nephew who thinks he's a webmaster because he has a Myspace page. (Sigh) So let the cowboys keep on blagging: eventually their clients will become my clients, or clients of the other professionals on this forum.

Along the lines of Matt's post, here is my own blog post where I quote a similar thought:

Slaying the web template monster Tips from Idea15 Web Design

and here is my account of my experience helping a client who lost her web site to a cowboy:

adventures in web consultancy Tips from Idea15 Web Design

PS as for the comments about life coaches, I take a bit of offense to that. I work with an extraordinarily talented and professional executive coach, and I also have one who is a client. It is indeed a serious profession but, like web design, there are plenty of fast talking cowboys who bring the profession down. Don't judge the practice by its worst practitioners.
 
Gordon N

Gordon N

New Member
60% of the work I do is making second and third web sites for clients who either went with a cowboy designer, or an off-the-shelf "make yer site in minutes" box, or, worst of all, left their web site to their 14 year old nephew who thinks he's a webmaster because he has a Myspace page. (Sigh) So let the cowboys keep on blagging: eventually their clients will become my clients, or clients of the other professionals on this forum.
lol, loving the 14 year old nephew comment - just came across a similar tale locally last week! The daft thing is that the business using the 'frontpage fumble' (including marquee text!!) shows more loyalty to their nephew than their business! There is no telling some people! :rolleyes:

Seriously though Heather, excellent post. Some very good points, very well presented.

Regards,

Gordon
 
TomB

TomB

New Member
You know i wondered when this conversation would come up.

There are so many cowboys out there, it does feel that every tom, dick and harry is a web designer these days.

If you ever look at gumtree there are so many adverts, cheap website design, affordable website design, no links to any examples of work, or clients testimonials. I saw one today claiming to beat any price or quote.

This used to really annoy me then I suddenly realised, you know what I provide a good service to my clients, i work hard to make sure they are happy, i go that extra mile to make sure they are getting what they need and not selling them things that they don't need.

So i rise above it, and ignore them let them work for pennies an hour. I always say I'm not the cheapest, and i'm not the most expensive. My prices are a fair reflection of the standard of the work you get.

I've moped up the mess form cowboys as well with clients, and they are always so grateful. They compain about people never wanting to talk to them, or not explaining it or just going ahead and doing what they want without consulting the client. That goes against everything my business stands for.

I'm not sure about the qualifications argument though. I've been doing this for 4 years and only just started studying web design qualifications. Its never hampered me, or put off any of my clients. Like heather i started off doing this as a hobby, and then found a passion for it that i've turned into a business. I know some very talented and brilliant web designers that haven't trained officially but have learned 'on the job' if you like.

However I am due to start my final year of an Information technology and computing degree with the OU, and a lot of the modules like databases and project management and software development principles i use in my business everday so i guess you can say that i do have studies just not the paper qualification yet (hopefully by the end of next year fingers crossed)

Lets face it qualification or not, nobody is ever going to know everything in this day and age with regards to web design.

I totally agree with your points though heather, I take pride in what i do and the skill that is involved in it.

About life coaches like every profession in life there will be the good and there will be the bad. I was lucky to have the best life coaching who work wonders with me. But there are so many out there as well, its like a profession or area of business becomes popular, then suddenly there are hundred of people in that business.

Frontpage - oh my god please don't start me on that :eek:

So heather/Gordon, you've both done the CIW do you think its worth it? What did you come out from it that you couldn't do/ knew before?

T
 
Idea15

Idea15

New Member
Exactly, Tom.

As for whether or not you need a formal qualification, I really don't think so. Mine helped boost my confidence - as cheesy as it sounds, I needed to pass those exams to see myself as a professional and not a kid playing at a hobby. But the other skills I bring to my business, such as copywriting, branding, project management, and the like, all stem from real practice and occupational experience, not a textbook or a classroom.

One of the things I love about web design is that you have to keep learning all the time. This week, for example, I'm brushing up on the WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines, as I'm working on an accessible site that will be launching around the time 2.0 is adopted. No, there's no qualification or certification to accompany it, but as far as I'm concerned, WCAG 2.0 is part and parcel of my job. And I like the fact that my job is dictated by what I want it to be.

The major things I took away from CIW were standards, standards, and standards. I did think that the course needed to be brought out of the 1990s (frames, Matt's mailform script and FrontPage...!?!..I hate that feeling when you think "I should be teaching this course, not taking it!")

Would be curious to know where you did your CIW study? I did mine through UWS and was so disappointed by the way they ran the courses that I decided not to continue through them.
 
Gordon N

Gordon N

New Member
So heather/Gordon, you've both done the CIW do you think its worth it? What did you come out from it that you couldn't do/ knew before?
The reason I went for CIW in the first place was to offer potential clients (or employers for that matter) proof that I have the skills I say I do. I have run a number of small businesses over the last few years whilst still serving with the RAF and have always done my own design. Just like yourself and Heather I started as a hobbyist and then used the skills I developed to save myself money setting up sites for my businesses. I soon discovered that I actually enjoyed the site design/development more than the rest of it so decided to get out the RAF and do it full time...

As the businesses that I designed sites for are no longer running my portfolio doesn't exist! And this is the main reason that I went for the qualification route, it serves both a sales foot in the door and as a part substitute for a very young (and small!) portfolio.

So that's why I chose to do it......what did I take from it?

The CIW Foundations and CIW Site Design didn't offer a huge amount of new information - but more valuable was the confirmation that I was doing things the right way, and approaching the process in the right manner. There were a few lightbulb moments along the way, and different pieces of the puzzle that dropped into place during those courses. It also gives a greater understanding of how the industry works at agency level. The Site Design specifcally focussed on standards-based design and the importance of useability and accessibility which I took a lot from.

The CIW E-Commerce Designer, now that was a learning curve I wasn't expecting! I had previously based a couple of sites on CubeCart and dabbled with the beta of Magento, so I thought I had a fairly good grasp of the topic. I was soon shown that there was more too it with a lot of information (and testing) in the areas of secure transactions and SSL, payment processing, legal matters, copyright issues, patents and much more! There was a lot than I had given credit for and I believe that the E-Commerce Designer course was worth at least half what I paid for the whole course!

In summary (thank goodness I hear you say!) I reckon that it's horses for courses with CIW. As you say, most designers who are skilled and have a good portfolio and work ethic might not see the benefit, but for someone like myself if it gives a pretty logo and a sales tool that proves I have the skills and knowledge if not an established portfolio.

And relax, it's over! ;)

Does that answer your question?

Regards,

Gordon
 
Gordon N

Gordon N

New Member
I did think that the course needed to be brought out of the 1990s (frames, Matt's mailform script and FrontPage...!?!..I hate that feeling when you think "I should be teaching this course, not taking it!")

Would be curious to know where you did your CIW study?
That shows the difference in learning providers I think. I went to a residential course at a company called Blue Screen IT in Plymouth. There we worked extensively with Dreamweaver (code view mostly),Fireworks and few days on Flash. Frames were mentioned only due to the fact they would be mentioned in the exam, it was stressed that a lot of the content is based on a few years ago and 'standards' are now the way forward.

I have to say though that the Foundations course gave me the same 'teaching not taking' feeling, we had a rather poor quality lecturer for that one! :)

Regards,

Gordon
 
TomB

TomB

New Member
Don't worry your post was shorter than mine.

The e-commerce module sounds really interesting, i quite like the sounds of that.

Heather - frames eeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww yuck :eek:

Do they really still teach that, that is totally shocking!!!

I agree with you both here, the qualification works for both of you, whilst it might not be right for everyone. Some clients will want people to have a professional qualification, others it won't matter.

Its all about what you do. I've done a lot of sites, but a lot of them wouldn't even make it in to my current portfolio, and yet a lot of my current portfolio is a bit embarassing. But as i do new work I'll replace it with better examples.

I have to admit its so nice to be able to chat with our designers without feeling threatened or worried about losing clients.

I'm not doing the CIW certification, i'm studying the OU web certificate, which I've only done the first module which is basic website, but it covers, databases, server side programming, client side, interfaces and is a little bit more up to date than the CIW by the sounds of it.

each module takes 3 months to complete so you could do the whole thing in 2 years. Check it out Certificate in Web Applications Development - Open University qualification

I love your article heather about the VPS panel, thats terrible.

Check out ehosting - UK Website Hosting Company - Shared Web Hosting, Domain Name Registration, UK Dedicated Servers and UK VPS Hosting

There customer service is excellent.

T
 
Idea15

Idea15

New Member
I looked at the official CIW web site and it seems I had the bad timing to take the last course of the "old" curriculum. Still, it was ridiculous to have to be tested on frames and a piece of software (FP) which by that time had been officially discontinued by its own manufacturer; that, plus an admin side so disorganised that they did not bill me for almost a year, made me quite happy to be done with UWS.

I should have mentioned earlier that one of the big things I got out of CIW was that I became a hand-coder! Me and HTML-Kit are very happy together.

I do like the look of that OU course and might keep it in mind for when the learning bug bites again

Great chat tonight, thanks!
 
TomB

TomB

New Member
It has been a great chat, thanks both of you.

I'll be interested to read what some of the other designers have to say as well.

The OU is great, I love studying with them, it does get addictive though :D

Back to work i guess, working on a site for a ceilidh band at the minute amongst many other things :D

T
 
Top