This post introduces a new category on this blog, “Thinking out loud,” and a new direction or better yet, dimension that I hadn’t originally anticipated, but one that is a natural fit for blogging. Perhaps someone besides myself will find this category helpful.
My edition of Webster’s dictionary defines synergy and synergism as
syn.er.gy: SYNERGISM; broadly : combined action or operation
syn.er.gism: interaction of discrete agencies or agents such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects
Both of which, by the way, remind me of Joomla which is an English rendering of an Arabic word (jumla) meaning “all together.”
Designer, developer, or builder – does it matter?
It matters to me (!), so here we go. And one more caveat (perhaps the last one) – I’m not pulling these next definitions out of a dictionary or Wikipedia…they are my own understanding of the terms, and my understanding may be different from yours.
In my experience a website designer is someone who is graphically-oriented and who has the talents and abilities to produce layouts, colors, graphics, etc. that look good and work together visually. This is important because, after all, who wants to look at an ugly website?
A website developer is the person who looks at what the designer has come up with and produces the code (CSS, HTML, PHP, etc.) that generates what the designer has created. Developers also create extensions, programs, and and other ‘parts’ that do all the cool things that computers and the Web are now capable of doing.
I don’t personally see myself as either a designer or developer per se, though I think I do have a pretty good sense of visual layout and I can modify the existing code to convince a website and/or its many parts to do what I want them to do – usually.
That leaves website builder as the logical choice to describe what I do, and to further explain what I mean I’m going to draw an analogy from another field I am familiar with – construction.
A builder is synergy personified
I’ve been a home builder/general contractor since 2000, and worked as a carpenter framing and trimming houses for a number of years previous to that. A modern house is a complicated arrangement of many parts and systems, and generally speaking it takes a large effort by many different people with different skills to finish the job.
The parts for a house come from many different locations, and sometimes from around the world, and are produced by different people and manufacturers. These parts include concrete, steel, lumber, glass, fasteners, drywall, shingles, paint, electrical parts, plumbing parts, HVAC systems, and many more. There’s a lot to keep track of and many people – producers, distributors, installers – contribute their efforts to the project.
Builders come in different “shapes and sizes” as well. Some builders are “hands on” builders who not only manage the project but also wear a tool belt and physically work on the project, perhaps as a carpenter. (That’s me!) Other builders purely manage the project and never touch a tool other than a cell phone and a computer. Despite the differences, each builder is still the one person who is responsible to complete the project, hopefully in a timely and professional manner.
From homes to websites
I’ve taken some of what I’ve learned as a home builder and applied it to websites. I’m not a designer, so I depend on designers to create templates that look good and deliver a website’s content in a clear fashion. I’m not a developer either, so I depend on developers to write code and make extensions, components and other parts that work well and do what a website needs them to do.
In the end, I see myself as a builder who manages and coordinates the efforts of many different people, including myself, to arrive at what we’re all aiming for – a website that looks good, performs well, meets the client’s goals, and clearly delivers the client’s content.