The web industry is still only a baby. New job titles are being invented all the time. Some stick, some, thankfully, do not. Some people have to take on many roles, while others specialise in one or two areas. So what should we call ourselves? How much importance are we putting on our job titles?
It's always hard to concisely convey a thought, especially one as blunt as this one, in 140 characters without ruffling a few feathers, so after copping a bit of flack, Ryan followed up with a post on the Think Vitamin blog.
Ryan is a very smart guy with over 10 years experience and several successful companies under his belt, and I mostly agree with Ryan's comments, however I felt his views may be a bit myopic.
I personally couldn't see myself hiring a dedicated UX/UE person. I believe that any web developer (which is the catch-all term I use to describe someone who develops websites - not just programmers) worth his/her salt should have all of the skills needed to take a web project through from concept to completion. They don't have to be an expert in every field, but they should have a strong understanding of the principles behind great user experiences. UX is a design practice; a subset of skills, not a job title.
He is absolutely correct in saying that web developers should know these UX principles and apply them to all aspects of the web design process, however the problem is that not everyone does. Generalists are jack-of-all-trades, with one or two specialisations in their strongest fields, and unfortunately, for many web developers (especially those more on the dev/programming side) they are not UX specialists. I feel that most of UX is just common sense, but I can understand the need for dedicated UX specialists in large agencies or companies that create complex applications with fiddly UI interfaces.
However, I feel that the same job can be performed by a small team of generalists in a peer review/agile/scrum development process. In my day job I work as part of a small team of two generalists. We are always bouncing ideas, wire-frames and interface options off each other, working towards delivering the best experience for the end user.
Also, I get the understanding that in Ryan Carson Worldâ„¢, all web agencies must be small-medium teams or freelancers, and their projects are low-risk or single-function web apps. When there is a lot riding on a project, the risk of failure needs to be minimised as much as possible, and in some cases you need to bring in the big guns. I consider myself a half-way decent designer, and have designed logos, stationary and print advertising for clients in the past , even though it's not my speciality. However, if a large, national client requested the same service as part of a new product launch, you can bet the farm that I'd be getting specialist help.
In his post, Ryan says:
A web site or app should be the product of a Web Designer and a Web Developer (who occasionally are the same person, as demonstrated by Shaun Inman).
In this sentence Ryan acknowledges that clever people like Shaun Inman exist. By Ryan's own logic, why even have separate job titles for design and development. Why not just hire a crack team of Shaun Inman super-soldiers that are experts at everything and take over the world? The problem is that finding a talented, well-rounded web designer is rare, while phoney-baloney UX "experts" and "professionals" are abundant.
In the end, companies should just hire the best people they need to get the job done.