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More people are learning web design and offering cheap sites to people; phone companies are edging in with package deals for businesses, and some companies offer prefabricated industry sites (law, medical) for a monthly fee. I cater to one particular industry that will always want custom sites, though.
Speaking as a web developer and not as a programmer (no scripting or database knowledge, I outsource that), are we going to be slowly edged out over the next few years? Do those of you here plan on still being in this business in five years, and do you think the money will still be as good?
The topic has proven itself to be very important for my own livelihood, because I could see then (and even more clearly now) that there was a low ceiling on where I could go with pure "web design" -- but that a natural expansion into project management for the web would be something of potentially great value for organizations, and that value would have much less chance of being either automated or made into a mere commodity.
I think of the early days of the automobile. No, I'm not THAT old, but I have read about the glamor that surrounded the first auto mechanics. Today, maybe a racing car mechanic has some glamor and can command big bucks and big respect -- but being an ordinary greasemonkey is not a highly desirable career. Similarly, being a data monkey or a pixel pusher today has probably just as limited a future.
And so I've continued to push the boundaries of what I know, trying every day to move a bit beyond my comfort level. I'm always learning a bit more about programming, a bit more about marketing, a bit more about formal project management, a bit more about design and usability -- and so on. And with the added value I now can offer clients, I have no more concern about becoming marginalized.
In fact, it is now clear to me that financial success comes most often to people who can generate significant financial success for others.
The one good thing about the ISPs, domain sellers, and phone companies pushing their site-in-a-box approach is that it raises small business' awareness of needing an on-line presence, and provides opportunities to those who can fix those shortcomings.
I got into the SEO thing and then found this place about 2 years later. It seemed there were many others here expanding their knowledge in to other fields, some of them speaking the same language as me ;)
I do agree that a wider knowledge base is the way to go, at least for the next 5 years.....
I'm wondering about retirement too, though not for maybe 10 years, although 5 would be much better:)
Remember back in the 1980's when people were buying machines and setting themselves up making posters, brochures etc for money. Now its click and type, and the general populace has increased in skills to the level where the average Joe can either do it himself or get his secretary to make it.
A good example happened today where a new bicycle shop opened, I sounded them out over a website and these guys, all bike mechanics, were making their own, and it looked pretty good too.
Its the smae with web design, Frontpage, Dreamweaver etc will take that technical knowledge out of the hands of specialists and into the more general population,
Staying ahead of the crowd involves being interested in the areas that are still esoteric, such as SEO, CSS, database programming, PHP, new technologies such as AJAX etc.
If you rest on your skills now, you will pay for it in 5 years time, if you keep stretching yourself you may stay ahead of the crowd.
I'm seeing more and more sites using video and audio and podcasting. As bandwidth improves, (and we all know many people REFUSE to read very much) we'll be building sites with more multimedia to hold attention and help those who'd rather hear or see than read.
I encourage anyone building sites to make sure you are a domain name/hosting reseller so you can build a residual income over time.
Also, look for specialty/niche directories and hosting.