12 Oct Is There A Future In Web Development?
Is There A Future In Web Development?
Oct 12, 2015125 views8 Likes2 CommentsShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Twitter
I ask this question not because the field of web development is going away; but honestly it is going away, just very slowly. Well, it is not that it is going away, it’s just that a series of innovations, access to international programmers, work at home developers/marketers and automation is starting to change things. The web development field came about in the late 1990s. I had just left working for Bell Atlantic Mobile, now Verizon Wireless, so when I ended up working on a large e-commerce site in 1999, that grew to 25,000 orders a day, we were in a period where you could pretty much know everything about the web as a professional from images, coding, html, to caching (CDNs) and analytics. In 2001 I built a system which became the largest speed dating company’s website. Today, there are so many specialized areas from SEO to MVC programming that the nobody in the field can really know it all anymore. You often need a specialist.
What is so amazing, yet insidious, now are the changes that are occurring. For instance, applications like WordPress and Shopify have completely transformed what used to take days, months and even years to build. With a dozen clicks you can have pretty sophisticated website software generated and ready for prime time. There are a dozen others like Drupal, Joomla, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace that will make a website for you in 10 minutes. These CMS or web generators are great for business startups. But as a field, they have devalued the web development skill set and knowledge to build these plug and play systems. Combine that with thousands of low cost international labor and you have a situation where there is less and less demand for a local programmer, product manager or any of the tasks that used to be completed between a CEO and the engineer. So, what is happening is many tech and online marketing professionals are not taking full-time jobs. They are all starting their own businesses as consultants, like myself.
So what is of value? Instead of raw technical skill or organization management skill, the two skills that are slowing being dis-intermediated, there is the skill of business, experience, taste, writing and sophistication. You can’t outsource that to a bunch of overseas workers. There is still a different between a site which was given direction from an American versus and Eastern European. We as Americans still have the lead in creativity, writing content and thinking. The day may come when there is nothing left for us, and it may be coming sooner than you think. So, if you are a web developer, you have to be able to flex and change and re-evaluate what you are doing. That’s because not only has outsourcing taken hold, but there is a new H1-B program going on, where foreigners are brought to the US in large numbers to replace American workers not overseas but right here in the US. You can read these articles which describe an argument between Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Donald Trump. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/08/17/donald-trump-rips-facebooks-mark-zuckerberg-on-immigration/ or http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/18/donald_trump_dumps_on_facebooks_mark_zuckerberg/I can save you the trouble reading it. Basically companies like Facebook are pushing for many more foreign workers so they can cut their costs here, not over there.
So, because of this shift towards consistently finding ways to lower costs, and I don’t blame companies, I foresee a time down the road when the web development field goes away. There is a field left, but it is just a group of people making images and configuring content management systems. The real work is going to be done in lower costs countries, where they are producing thousands of engineers. What does mean for those of us left in web development? It means retraining and becoming superior at marketing, business, startups and independence. It means running our own businesses. I went back for my MBA, but even that degree does not hold up well compared with the forces that are changing the field of web development.
This past summer my wife and I created our own startup agency called StartupPOP.com. We build websites. We build e-commerce sites. Take a look at LuckyCharms18.com, a recent site we created for a client. We will write a business plan, a pitch deck, a pro forma. I have done tech support and anything in between. We can send your email or manage your Infusionsoft. We believe the work we are doing is at a level higher than most of these smaller local web agencies out there. And we don’t work like a big corporation. We do the work ourselves. We not only do the configuration and set up of the tech, but we often write most of the content for clients. We are looking for a bunch of companies who need their website redeveloped assistance with an e-commerce site, but need real assistance in a serious way. And yes we work with WordPress and Shopify. We have over 15 years a piece, some in Fortune 500 corporations with web design, graphics, web programming, site configuration and most anything you would need in building a website. Please contact me if you need our assistance. Otherwise, be warned and keep your skill set up to date! And next election you know who I am probably voting for… that is coming from a liberal.
Would love to hear your comments on this subject!
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Ryan Allen Ryan Allen
Digital Strategist / Software Engineer
Dan, you are absolutely correct. We’re still 10-15 years out on most of this but it is coming. I see language evolving into more of a drag-and-drop coding technique that they give to kids these days. It opens up a new realm of possibilities for non-coders. However — customization and sophistication are two levels that aren’t so easy to supplant. Engineers will always be needed.