What is a Web Producer?
At an IA-Peers Sydney meet up this week I discussed what it is that I do as a web producer. The group also chatted about the job titles Information Architect and Experience Architect. Anyone in this industry will know that job titles change all the time. This is something I would like to cover in this blog; speak to other professionals and get them to define their job title.
I thought I would start with my job title: Producer. For this post I am republishing an email I sent in September 2008 to a student of a friend who teaches Online Journalism at UTS.
Here is a little run down for your student who is interested in being a web producer.
Where do I start? The role of a web or online producer has to be one of the vaguest job descriptions going round. It depends on the size of the organisation and the nature of the business. Most commonly you can be a web producer at a development/design company, advertising agency or media outlet. You can also be a client side web producer working in house for corporates or anyone with a significant web presence. This sort of role can sometimes be called “Online Coordinator”.
At an advertising agency a web/online producer is a coordinator. There may be various levels of producers (senior, junior) working alongside a technical producer, information architect and the design and development teams and under an account manager. You are a coordinator. You make ads, flash sites and campaign sites.
I work for a web development company with a technical focus so my role is that of a producer/information architect (IA). My job is split 50/50 between the two roles. As an IA I make wireframes for websites. These are basically blueprints of the site for designers and developers. As a producer I liaise with the client and manage the build. I work for a small company which means my work is a lot more hands on than an ad agency where roles are more specialised. My background before this was as a graphic designer so I had some web experience and do know HTML/CSS. This has helped a great deal because I know how to make websites. That being said my focus is more technical/UI focussed and this is definitely not the case for all web producers.
A Producer client side may be someone with a journalistic background or web background. An in house client side producer may or may not have an in house development and design team. If not, they will write briefs, liaise with external agencies and be responsible for the project. A client side web producer is often responsible for collating, writing and publishing content.
This brings me to the last home of a web producer which is the media outlet—think MySpace or Austereo. Here your role is about bringing together the product with a heavy focus on managing the content. This is quite different to what I do which is defining and managing the build. Media outlets have a heavy advertising focus.
Many jobs will expect you to know HTML, but you dont have to be a master coder. This is still a relatively new field — the popular internet has only been round since 1995 give or take a year so loads of experience is not essential. In all roles I have described you are dependant on others. You must agitate and advocate constantly. People most often do not cooperate so be prepared for the management part of the role. This could be short campaign management or longer project and timeline management.
So, did I get it right? Did I give the right advice?