While most senior managers would agree that the web is mission-critical, at a time when budgets are tight it becomes increasingly difficult to persuade them that employing skilled web professionals is vital. With devolved publishing models in many institutions and the increasing use of social networking, senior managers might be forgiven for assuming that managing a website is easy. Surely everyone is a 'web expert' now that 74% of the UK population spend an average of 13 hours a week on the web? So are web professionals really needed?
No senior manager would disagree that web professionals with technical skills are essential; it's those with the 'softer' skills that are in danger of being overlooked. Yet these are the very people who make the web work for the stakeholders with their knowledge of writing content for the web, content management, metadata, taxonomies, the user experience, usability, and search: the list goes on. These are the skills which are being undermined by the web 'experts'.
The key is to show what we can do beyond 'just' managing the website. The web is at the heart of business efficiencies through its use in streamlining processes, making tasks quicker to perform, connecting business applications, and enabling fast access to resources, so use of the web is key in the battle for the future of higher education institutions. As web managers we need to promote our roles, and those of our teams, showing what we have to offer the long term future of the organisation.
But we are not helped by the lack of recognition for our profession. What is a web professional? This term covers a range of skills and experience but it is not one that is necessarily recognised by recruiters and managers. Web developers are recognised as being IT professionals, but if you have the 'softer' skills it becomes more difficult for recruiters and managers to know how to describe what is required and where to find suitable candidates.
Is it because there are no recognised qualifications (except technical ones), and no professional body, that we have these problems? Are we currently running the risk of our skills being absorbed into other roles therefore jeopardising the quality of future web management and the importance of the profession? How should we promote ourselves so that the benefits of employing web professionals are recognised?
This presentation will consider how and why web professionals should actively fight for recognition so that they can ensure there is a more certain future during turbulent times.
12th–14th July 2010