From market researchers managing online communities to marketers running Facebook campaigns, more and more professionals have to manage significant online presences as part of their day-to-day work.
If your colleagues in I.T. sometimes make you feel like you can't do your job because you don't know how to program, don't let them: most of what you need to know about managing a tech presence or project is well within your grasp.
Here are my tips for on-the-job tech learning, based on almost 20 years of experience in web development:
- Learn on the job.
You can take courses or read manuals that promise to teach you specific tech skills, but what will really help you learn and remember those skills is solving a real-world. Mistakes are inevitable - correcting them is how we gain invaluable skills that will help us grow in our careers. Working in web development, nothing ever goes according to plan and you will constantly come across unexpected obstacles.
Once, I was working on a company website when I got a notification for a software update. This update broke existing blocks that were in place in different sections of the website. These types of unforeseen problems also lead to me to bring up my next tip.
- Have a back-up plan - always.
For any project that you start, no matter how big or how small, make a backup planÛ_even if you don't think it's your job.
A few years back, a publishing company hired me to work on their website. When I began working on the website, a glitch destroyed the entire company database. I wasn't too worried until I discovered that the database had never been backed and I had to recreate the entire database myself: a web developer's worst nightmare.
Don't ever assume that someone else has taken care of the backup plan. Before you start a new job or begin a new task, make sure there is a backup system in case something goes wrong. Trust me - you'll be thankful that you did.
- Make Google your best friend.
Google is a goldmine. When I started working on websites back in good ole '94, the web was a lot simpler. I wasn't spoiled with having Google, Bing, or any other search engines that held all the answers to my problems: I had to figure out everything for myself.
Things are more complicated today, but the entire worldwide web is now full of tutorials on how to do anything. So if you hit a roadblock, or just want to know how to push your knowledge a little further, google it: chances are very high that someone has written the instructions, answered the questions or made the screencast that will show you how to do exactly what you want to do.
- Deadlines are your best friend.
Yeah, we all hate deadlines: but let's face it, nothing forces you to finish a project more efficiently than having a set completion date. Making goals requires making deadlines. If you made a goal to knit a sweater without specifying a date to complete this by, chances are you won't finish knitting the sweater. If you make a goal to knit the sweater by Friday, March 8th, this gives you a set amount of time to complete the goal and you can manage your time more efficiently to achieve it.
- One last thing: make a backup plan.
Yeah, I already said that. But unless you stopped reading this blog post to go and make your backup plan, it bears repeating. Please. Back. Up. I cannot emphasize this enough. Working on something that does not have a back-up system is one of, if not the, biggest risk a web developer can take. So I beg you, please have a back-up plan.
Your web presence is a partnership between marketing and I.T. Make sure to balance campaign goals and demands with back-end requirements on security, stability and basic maintenance. These tips are the result of my many years of experience from working in web development. However, even with 20 years of experience in this field, I am learning new things every day. The web is constantly changing and advancing and my job requires me to keep up-to-date with these changes. These changes may affect any projects that I'm working on which is why I keeping saying, always have a back-up!