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What’s in a job title?

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Tuesday, 18 December, 2007

Content For anyone out there working in web design, would you be offended if I said that job-titling myself as a "web designer" seems so, well, amateurish? I've had to introduce what I do to people quite alot in recent months, and when it comes down to it, I've got issues calling myself a "web designer".

I've recently used this title reservedly because in one sense, it does basically describe what I (mainly) love doing in a nut shell - I design websites. People understand that a web designer designs websites. But this isn't all I do, and in fact, with this understanding that people have, I fear that the title "web designer" also has connotations of a job whose responsibility it is to create websites, no matter how bland or badly designed they are.

I say this simply because the reality is that its not difficult to complete a short course in html and "become" a web designer. And its easy to register your own domain, rent some hosting and place a freshly "designed" website alongside a professional global brand site. Does the fact that its "live" make any website professional?

I mean no disrespect to any one in the industry who takes this path, and no doubt there are those that have done, and who simply possess the right talent.

But having invested in two degrees and a number of years education and training and having worked in the industry for nearly a decade, I feel that I could differentiate myself a little and at the very least, should choose a job title that could reflect some sense of seniority.

(By the way, with 'seniority' I don't mean to imply any comparison to really good designers out there (in any field) who have great careers spanning over twenty plus careers. I know I have a long way to go. I read in an interview with a design legend somewhere that a designer couldn't be considered good until they've amassed over forty years of experience. I might of course have mis-quoted that, or taken it out of context...)

I've considered just using "Designer". In some ways, it takes away the amateurish-sounding "web" part, and I liked both its simplicity and potential to explore any design field. It's openness is all encompassing, but that was its problem. A Chinese consultant I spoke to, wondered what kind of engineering design I did. Is it because I is Chinese?

So then "Graphic Designer" became my next step. It has the "heritage", if I can call it that, of traditional print design. People know what a graphic designer does. Just that it, well, sounded too junior still, and doesn't have enough emphasis on digital.

Moving on, I've then considered using titles like "Art Director" or "Consultant". These reflect more of a sense of experience that could be brought to a project. Prefixing "Digital" to these bring on the web aspect, but can also encompass general multimedia (CD-ROMs - remember those?) which I also like to dabble in.

I've currently settled for using "Design & Art Direction for Digital Media" for elements like this website which allow more room for interpretation. "Design" was added for its sense of a pure and simple discipline.

For limited spaces like business cards, I've chosen to use "Digital Design Consultancy". It states what I do and the media I do it in. And in the course of a conversation, post card-swap, people easily understand the "consultancy" bit.

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I appreciate being able to change job titles at least. Naming for the Chinese is way more difficult..

http://www.cdeclips.com/en/arts_n_life/fullstory.html?id=22772
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on 04/06/09 at 11:46 AM

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