Areas of Responsibility for Web Positions

One of the most popular pages on my site, getting hundreds of views a week, is my article on crafting web job descriptions. There are surprisingly few resources for this online. Given the demand, I’m working on expanding the article into an ebook on the topic: The Web Job Description Toolkit. I’ll cover more areas of responsibility in more detail, offer sample interview questions, job titles, discuss advertising positions, etc.

This book is targeted squarely at organizations that are not primarily web companies. For many of these companies, creating web positions can be a challenging task since they usually don’t have a lot of experience with the Web at the executive level, let alone in human resources. The purpose of this book is to help them understand the potential roles for web staff and how to design positions that will contribute the most value to their overall goals.

I’m working on the areas of responsibility that I’ll cover in the book. Below is my working list, with short descriptions. I recognize that many of these overlap or could have different labels. I appreciate any comments you may have on the list. Am I missing anything? Suggest another label for a section? Looks great? Let me know.

Anyone who comments and includes their full, real, name with the comment will get a thank you in the book! Include your e-mail and I’ll give you a free copy when it is published. (I reserve the right not to include spammers or abusive posts in this offer at my sole discretion.)

An important note about the list: the section labels are not job titles. They are areas of responsibility that can be mixed and matched to create position descriptions.

Here is the list, which is somewhat different from the original article:

These deal with setting overall direction for your organization’s Web efforts. What are your goals? How do they support the overall goals of the organization? How do you intend to go about achieving them?

This covers the day-to-day management responsibilities for running a Web team and the site. It also includes hiring, coaching and developing staff.

Content is King, but someone has to be behind the curtain. This includes content authoring, editing and management duties. I’ll define this to include video, images and audio as well as text.

This section will focus on marketing your web site. It will include search engine optimization, e-commerce, keyword advertising, etc.

This covers the basics of web design, including developing overall look and feel, templates, user interfaces and supporting assets. It can also include interactive media such as Flash if your site requires it.

This is all about helping people to find your content once they are on your site. It covers information architecture, search engine tuning, navigation, etc. This could fit under content management as well but I think it’s important enough to break out.

Usability is important for any site but especially so for those that include a lot of data-driven applications or e-commerce. This section will identify responsibilities related to increasing the usability of your site. I will also cover accessibility here. This overlaps significantly with other sections but it is another one that deserves special attention, in my opinion.

User Support/Online Community
This section will cover the basics of user support tasks as well as more advanced Web 2.0-style community liaison roles.

Technical Administration
Keep the servers up and running. I’ll cover the basics here but it won’t go into the depth that this one topic deserves. That’ll have to wait for another book.

Same as above, I will cover the basic responsibilities for developing web applications here but won’t go into great detail.

Thanks for your comments!

And finally, if you would like to receive periodic e-mail updates about the book, sign up using the form on this page. I will not use your e-mail for any purpose other than Toolkit announcements unless you sign up for other e-mail newsletters on my site.

Transforming Association Work and Careers with the Web

I’ll be hosting a live chat session with ASAE’s Emerging Leaders community this Friday at 2 p.m. eastern. The overall topic is how the Web can be used to transform association work and careers. I’ll talk about whatever people are interested in but our starting points will include:

  • Creating member value online;
  • Tapping into self forming groups;
  • Creating a personal professional presence online;
  • Developing a web career in the association world.

You must be registered with the community to join in, so be sure to take care of that at least a day before the event. Hope to see you in the chat on Friday!

The Value of Career Paths for Otherwise Dead-end Jobs

Joel Spolsky just posted a nice essay on how his company provides insanely good customer service. I have been on the receiving end of that service (back when Joel was often doing it himself) and it is indeed great. Read the whole essay, good stuff: Seven steps to remarkable customer service.

However, the most radical idea in the whole piece is nestled in at the end of the article. Joel creates career paths for his customer support staff. How can a small company do this? The career path shoots beyond the company within a few years:

Many qualified people get bored with front line customer service, and I’m OK with that. To compensate for this, I don’t hire people into those positions without an explicit career path. Here at Fog Creek, customer support is just the first year of a three-year management training program that includes a master’s degree in technology management at Columbia University. This allows us to get ambitious, smart geeks on a terrific career path talking to customers and solving their problems. We end up paying quite a bit more than average for these positions (especially when you consider $25,000 a year in tuition), but we get far more value out of them, too.

They pay good money and put their customer support folks through college (!) while they work the phones and e-mail, wowing Fog Creek’s customers. And then they leave for greener pastures, but it is by design. Highly talented people have to compete for these typically undersirable jobs, just for the chance to learn from Joel and get a great education. Joel has created the purple cow of customer support jobs. Amazing. But there is no reason you can’t do the same.