Joshua Johnson

Front-end Developer @ BT

Bringing back the 'web master'

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to Hey!Stac up the road from me in Leeds (nothing to do with there being a free bar) and was able to converse with other like-minded developers and designers covering topics ranging from education to workflow.

Despite all talks being enthralling, one topic seemed to get everyone speaking and hands flying in the air with questions and points of view: the role of Photoshop in our workflows and whether we require its services anymore.

To me, Photoshop is past its sell by date in relation to the web and I feel, just like the passing of Fireworks, it will eventually be less prominent in our workflows. Photoshop at its core is an image editor and it is great at what it can do. It is even great for designing individual elements of a webpage. It is not great however for designing fully fledged, high fidelity comps and therein lies the problem.

We cannot make assumptions anymore regarding what devices people are using or what kind of Internet speed they are entertaining

Through the adoption and implications of responsive web design, it makes no sense designing around a fixed width grid or spending costly hours producing such fixed deliverables. We cannot make assumptions anymore regarding what devices people are using or what kind of Internet speed they are entertaining. We are nearing a stage in our industry where I feel designing and developing will become so converged that they will eventually become one job title and therefore one person.

Designers need to know about aspects of a website that can and can't be achieved through development and why. Designers need to be able to produce and present prototypes that can be iterated and tweaked within the browser, eradicating the waste of time that is producing high fidelity comps. If designers need to go right, developers need to budge left too. Developers need to consult with designers in regards to how a website design might adjust depending on the screen size. How many designers design an individual comp for a mobile or tablet viewport? I would be shocked if any - this task is notoriously left to the developer. Developers also need to adapt their code to suit the content a client has provided four weeks late and iterate quickly to accommodate such a change. It just makes so much more sense to me for this process to just be the responsibility of one person... and a browser.

With such convergence and role sharing, it poses the question: what are our jobs roles? This is not even exclusive to designers and front-end developers either. Is a JavaScript or WordPress developer front or back-end? Who dictates that? Should we be referring to exhaustive lists such as this and by doing so are our capabilities and potentials being restricted by a job title coined in the 2000s?

Perhaps we could get away with categorising people into such roles in the past where designers, front-end developers and back-end developers were situated in different areas of a building and had no requisite to communicate throughout a projects lifespan; but just because we could get away with something then, does not mean it is a necessity now.

With that in mind then, I want to reintroduce the job title of 'Web Master'. To quote Chris Coyier, the term 'Web Master' "never developed any specific meaning", so with this blog post I wish to coin a meaning that I think covers and by no means limits the people who work in the web. I myself love to design; love bringing designs to life in the browser client-side and enjoy dipping my toes in server-side languages such as OOPHP, therefore do not fit into any current job title or description out there. When people ask what I do I nearly always produce a different answer followed up with a vague explanation. It doesn't have to be this way though. A 'web master' has a bit of meat to it and people know to respect someone who has mastered something - especially the web. Think about it. A master. You're a master of the fucking web (or at least in part), doing all sorts of incredible stuff to improve a communicative tool loved by billions.

So from here on in; I'm Josh Johnson and I am a fucking web master.