Friday, December 23, 2005

Outlook 2006, Part 2

Four out of five small and mid-size business (SMB) leaders expect an improvement in business over the next six months. This same percentage plan to invest in technology for their business. These businesses provide approximately 75% of the new jobs added to the U.S. economy.

Here are a few findings from a survey of more than 1,000 SMB leaders:

  • 83% strongly agree that the Internet helps them run their companies
  • 22% currently make use of the Web as a marketing tool
  • 43% of non-Internet marketers plan to begin using the Web as a marketing tool over the next six months

"SMB leaders planning decreases in online activity are virtually non-existent," according to a representative of who commissioned the study. A press release of the first SMB State of the Union study is available for review.

In another study released earlier this year SMB owners were asked how they measured the success of their Website. Here are the responses:

  • customer and prospect comments (54%)
  • site activity, traffic and number of visitors (48%)
  • sales leads (36%)
  • online sales (24%)
  • efficiencies of internal processes, such as faster payment processing or fewer phone calls (21%)

A press release of Interland's Summer 2005 Small and Medium-sized Business Barometer is available for review.

Opportunities abound for Web developers to help SMB leaders grow their business. The results of these two studies indicate that business leaders are not looking for Web designers, they are looking for problem solvers who can help them market their business through the innovative use of Web-based technology. Here's a three-step strategy to consider:

  • download a graphical presentation (pdf) of the SMB State of the Union study
  • share this information with any current or prospective clients
  • open a dialogue to discuss how you can help the business owner measure the success of their Web efforts using the five criteria listed above
Small and mid-sized businesses have moved beyond "brochureware." Make a New Year's Resolution to continue to develop skills that will position you as a business partner who can help solve problems with the creative use of technology.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Outlook 2006, Part 1

Corporate IT hiring continues at its strongest pace in the last three and a half years. Overall, 13 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) at large companies plan to hire staff during the first quarter, compared to just one percent who plan to decrease staff. This net 12 percent gain matches last quarter and is 33 percent higher than a year ago at this time.

Survey results are part of a quarterly national poll of more than 1,400 CIOs at U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. Details are available from
Robert Half Technology.

Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administration expertise and SQL Server management continue to be the technical skills that show the strongest demand.

In addition, CIO magazine's fourth annual
State of the CIO survey finds that one trend that continues is the pressure on IT executives to drive business innovation with technology. CIOs say the skill sets needed are less technical (i.e. programmers) and more analytical and managerial (i.e. strategists and project managers). In fact, project management is at the top of the skills that CIOs value most.

Based on these two surveys Web developers can get the attention of large company CIOs by focusing on three areas in 2006:
  • Upgrade your database skills by adding SQL Server to your technical skill set
  • Develop one new project where you can document helping solve a business need though the innovative use of technology
  • Document your project management skills by delivering this new project on time and under budget by working as part of (or ideally by leading) a team

Fortunately, developing technical expertise need not be expensive. Microsoft offers a SQL Server 2005 Express Edition available for FREE download. In addition, Microsoft also offers nine FREE online courses to help you develop SQL Server 2005 skills!

With a working knowledge of SQL Server and ASP.NET you can develop and manage a Web project that is database-driven and demonstrates the innovative use of technology designed to help solve a pressing business need.

Once complete, CIOs would love to hear about your solution. To help put you in touch with technology officers, Beantown Web has introduced a new service called Web Apprentices Career Center. In particular, check out one-click access to the largest 25 publicly-held technology companies in Massachusetts which are listed in the Boston Globe as the High Tech 25.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Java -- What Happened?

Java is a Web programming language developed by
Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s as a potential antidote to Microsoft's operating system domination. However, today's Web landscape appears to be shifting in ways that disadvantage Java.

article in BusinessWeek reveals that the next generation of Web application developers are leaning toward open-source tools featuring LAMP (Linux~Apache~MySQL~PHP) and Microsoft's .NET technologies.

According to a Sun executive Java remains a mainstay of large, complex corporate applications. For example, IBM's
WebSphere technology is based on Java. The technology also has a strong presence in cell phone and mobile game programming.

So where should a Web developer focus his/her energies in 2006? Java? LAMP? .NET? At least one of these three competing skill sets needs to part of your Web development toolkit. And LAMP and .NET appear to be the rising stars.

Full disclosure: Last Thursday I attended the Boston leg of Microsoft's worldwide
Launch Tour 2005 along with 2,000 other (mostly) middle aged white guys. The day-long geekfest featured marketing presentations, a box lunch and product givaways, all FREE! Not aware that Microsoft was on tour? Check out a Special Edition of the READY Launch Tour 2005.

Can walking away with fully functional copies of Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, as well as training vouchers, influence my view of the future of Web development? Most likely. That demonstrates the power of Microsoft's marketing muscle. But, facts are facts; and Beantown Web will continue to present a fair and balanced view of training and career opportunities for Web Developers in the greater Boston area.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Predictions 2006

Disruptive technology shifts will shape the IT industry in 2006, according to a report released by IDC. The company's annual predictions are designed to identify and highlight key trends and pivotal choices facing the IT industry in the year ahead.

Two of these disruptions are as follows:
  • The Open Source Effect - 'open innovation' in IT product and service development
  • The Google Effect - online delivery of IT as a service

Web developers should position themselves now to capitalize on these disruptive effects. Both of these trends involve Web development technologies.

The Open Source Effect refers to the increased use of open-source (free) Web technologies, standards and techniques such as PHP, XML and Ajax. IBM is one vendor that has embraced the use of open-source standards. The company demonstrates its commitment to PHP, for example, by posting a free online tutorial for developers to access, along with a list of links to additional open-source resources.

The Google Effect refers to the development of Web-based applications that go beyond static, HTML-based Web pages. Microsoft is one vendor that has acknowledged this "sea change" and has upped the ante with the release of its Web application technology, ASP.NET 2.0 and development tool sets, Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition.

Which ever direction you choose -- open source (PHP) or vendor-specific (ASP.NET) -- now is the time to position your Web development career for anticipated growth opportunities in the New Year.

A press release detailing additional IT trends is available at the IDC Website. A detailed report is also available (registration required). The report is entitled IDC Predictions 2006: It's Gut-Check Time, As Disruptive Business Models Gain Traction. IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology and telecommunications industries.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Boston Market -- December

The Monster Employment Index for the month of November jumped to an all-time high indicating broad growth in online recruitment activity. One sector that registered a significant increase in online job availability during the month was "computer and mathematical" which saw a significant spike in growth indicating higher demand for IT professionals, according to the report.

December is an excellent time to begin planning for 2006. If you want your career to take a different TACK (a change in one's course of action), then December's Boston Market analysis can help.

This month we'll explore four segments of the Web technology marketplace -- Tools, Acronyms, Containers, and Knowledge. If you are considering a career upgrade in 2006 you should improve your technology skills in the following four areas:
  • Tools (software)
  • Acronyms (languages)
  • Containers (databases)
  • Knowledge (certifications)

A keyword search of job openings posted at indicates the following (number of job posting in parentheses):

Tools (software):

Acronyms (languages):

Containers (databases):

Knowledge (certifications):

  • review the July 24, 2005 issue of Beantown Web for detailed analysis of technology certifications

As you can see, knowledge of Tools (software) can only offer double-digit job opportunities. However, expertise in certain key technology Acronyms (languages), such as SQL and .NET, can expand your opportunity base to triple-digit possibilities. And Container (database) expertise can offer the greatest returns of all.

If you want your career to take a different TACK in 2006, focus on the AC part of the opportunity market by developing your language and database skills. AC will provide the electricity to light up your career opportunities in The New Year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Salary Guide -- 2006

"Recent gains in IT employment activity, teamed with a shallow candidate pool, are fueling competition for highly skilled individuals," according to a representative of Robert Half Technology (RHT), which recently released its 2006 Salary Guide.

According to the guide the three top high-demand specialties, along with the average starting salaries for these job functions, are as follows:

  • IT auditor ($67,000 to $94,250)
  • lead applications developer ( $72,000 to $98,250)
  • network security administrator ($67,500 to $94,750)

Additional job functions and average starting salary ranges are as follows:

  • business systems analysts ($58,750 to $84,750)
  • data analysts/report writers ($54,000 to $71,250)
  • developers/programmer analysts ($55,250 to $86,750)
  • project managers ($72,750 to $99,250)
  • quality assurance/testing managers ($67,250 to $88,250)

"Lead applications developer" is the job category that most closely resembles "Web Developer." provides the following job descriptions that relate to "lead application developer":

Continuing education is the key to career advancement and programming skills and database expertise continue to be rewarded in the marketplace.

Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, conducts its survey annually based on an in-depth analysis of thousands of job orders managed by the company's U.S. offices. A press release is available for review at the RHT Website where you can also request a free copy of the 2006 Salary Guide.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ajax & Atlas

November 20 marked the 20th anniversary of Microsoft Windows. During the first decade of Windows, programs such as Word and Excel improved and evolved into a suite called Office. The second decade of Windows featured Internet access and connectivity to all Office applications. So, what will the third decade bring?

Well, one concept that is evolving is the interactivity of Web technologies designed to create even richer Web applications. The name for this emerging concept -- Ajax!

Ajax is an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is not software. It is not a Website. It is not a development tool. Rather, Ajax is a Web development technique that relies on several of the following commonly-used Web technologies:
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • XML

Internet users typically interact with a Web server by clicking a button or a link and this "event" triggers a request for a new page. Ajax techniques allow a Web developer to create a dynamic environment for the user that bypasses this "round trip" request for information.

To see this technology in action visit Google Suggest. Simply begin typing your search request and watch as the Web server dynamically offers suggestions (without requesting a new page) based on what others have been searching for.

Microsoft likes the technology so much it has incorporated support for Ajax in its latest upgrades of ASP.NET and Visual Studio 2005. Microsoft refers to its implementation of Ajax techniques as "Atlas."

To learn more about this emerging technology access an Information Week interview with Microsoft's Atlas product manager. In addition you can access an Atlas Quickstart Tutorial at Microsoft's Atlas Website. You can also review a non-Microsoft overview of the evolution of the Ajax from Adaptive Path.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Microsoft "Sea Change"

Microsoft nearly missed the Internet party and was "blindsided" in 1995 when Netscape launched its Navigator browser. The unanticipated dawn of the Internet Age forced Bill Gates to issue his famous internal memo entitled 'The Internet Tidal Wave' that redirected Microsoft's development efforts to focus on Web-enabled products.

Fast forward 10 years and imagine a world without the Internet! What will the next 10 years bring?

While nobody knows, Bill Gates is not leaving the future up to chance. His latest company-wide e-mail, referred to as '
Sea Change', is being compared to 'The Internet Tidal Wave' in terms of impact on the company's strategic direction. And this 'sea change' has a direct positive impact on the demand for IT professionals with Web development skills.

The '
sea change' refers to the shift to Internet-based software and services. "This coming 'services wave' will be very disruptive," according to Gates. And with relatively little fanfare Microsoft announced plans for Windows Live and Office Live, two Web-based offerings that aim to help the company compete with Google and Yahoo, companies that are already seeing success with such Web-based offerings.

Whether you are a fan of Microsoft or not, history has proven that betting against Bill Gates is not a wise strategic decision. If the marketplace is indeed moving rapidly toward Internet-based software and services, then it makes sense to develop your Web skills accordingly.

Web developers in training have two primary skill-set options:
The Web services train is leaving the station. In ten years you might just look back and be glad you purchased a ticket and climbed on board today.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Boston Market -- November

The demand for Web Developers continues to outpace the demand for Web Designers by a rate of four to one in this month's analysis of the Greater Boston technology job market. Batson Computer Services provides a nice overview of the difference between a designer and a developer. provides the following listings (number of opportunities in parentheses):

Two key skills distinguish Web Developers from Web Designers:

  • database knowledge and expertise
  • programming knowledge and expertise
Database training opportunities for November include the following:

Programming training opportunities for November include the following:

Databases and programming are two Web Development skills you can learn today that will help you reap financial rewards tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

WebAwards -- 2005

The WebAwards for 2005 have been announced. The awards are coordinated by the Web Marketing Association which was founded in 1997 to help set a high standard for Internet marketing and web development.

Entries were judged on the following seven criteria:

  • Design
  • Innovation
  • Content
  • Technology
  • Interactivity
  • Copywriting
  • Ease of use

The four WebAward levels are as follows:

  • Best of Show
  • Best of Industry
  • Outstanding Website
  • Standard of Excellence

Web developers can use these award-winning Websites to benchmark design standards and to stimulate design ideas. Beantown Web will launch a new service next month called "How Did They Do That?" These periodic postings will focus on a single site, deconstruct an interesting design idea, and show you, step-by-step, how you can incorporate the design concept into your work.

So, let's take a look. The Best of Show (overall winner) award went to National Geographic - Inside The Mafia.

Listed below are the Best of Industry award winners in 92 industry categories:

Additional winners in the categories of "Outstanding Website" and "Standard of Excellence" can be identified via searching the WebAwards Website.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Web Server Paradox

All Websites reside on Web servers. Not all Web servers are created equal. The market share for hosting the 74 million Websites on the planet is as follows:

  • Apache (70%)
  • Microsoft (20%)
  • other (10%)

Web developers create dynamic Websites that interact with the Web server via scripting languages and databases. The default technologies are as follows:

  • Apache > PHP & MySQL
  • Microsoft > ASP & SQL Server sheds some light on the demand for professionals with dynamic Web development skills sets:

So, why would the demand for ASP / SQL Server professionals far exceed the demand for PHP / MySQL professionals, when the majority of Websites are hosted in a LAMP (Linux / Apache / MySQL / PHP) environment?

The simple answer is that Microsoft server technologies hold a commanding lead in Fortune 1000 companies. Most large companies choose to invest in hiring a full-time Webmaster to manage their Web presence. Small companies, on the other hand, tend to outsource their Web development needs to independent contractors who are far more likely to depend on open-source (free) software and far less likely to place job ads.

On November 8 Microsoft will upgrade its Web server technologies with the introduction of the following:
  • ASP.NET 2.0
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Visual Studio 2005 (a Web development tool comparable to Dreamweaver MX)
Prior to the launch date Microsoft is offering FREE software and FREE training to Web developers who want to learn these new technologies. Register today and upgrade your skills for future career success.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

IT Shortage -- One Solution

"Experienced technical IT people can make $70,000 to $80,000 a year, and those with managerial experience can make $100,000," according to the president of an independent user group specializing in IBM technologies.

However, as many as 20,000 additional personnel may be needed to support IBM's mainframe market alone, and the shortage goes beyond IBM. Alarmingly, "the shortage of IT experts is likely to turn critical in a year or two," according to Robert Rosen who represents the
IBM SHARE user group. His comments are summarized in an InformationWeek interview.

So, how can IT professionals best position themselves for the projected shortfall? By learning a technology that is supported not only by IBM, but also by Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and virtually every major technology provider in the market today. That technology is
XML. lists
179 openings for technology professionals with XML knowledge and experience. lists 599 openings in the Boston metropolitan area.

To demonstrate how pervasive this technology is simply access the Websites of the following technology providers to witness their commitment to XML:

Do you want to know where to begin? Visit W3Schools to access a free XML tutorial and begin preparing for a six-figure income future!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Nielsen's Web Design Mistakes

Jakob Nielsen announced his annual Top Ten List of Web Design Mistakes this week. He's been publishing this list since 1996.

Nielsen has been called "the guru of Web page usability." His
User Experience 2005 Conference will visit Boston October 23-28.

Here is his "list of design stupidities that irked users the most in 2005":
  1. Legibility Problems
  2. Non-Standard Links
  3. Flash
  4. Content That's Not Written for the Web
  5. Bad Search
  6. Browser Incompatibility
  7. Cumbersome Forms
  8. No Contact Information or Other Company Info
  9. Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths
  10. Inadequate Photo Enlargement
For a detailed explanation access Nielsen's Top Ten Web Design Mistakes for 2005.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Boston Market -- October

Structured Query Language (SQL) remains the single most valuable skill in demand in the Boston technology marketplace. More than 460 opportunities requiring SQL knowledge and experience are listed at and more than 1,000 opportunities are listed at

The demand is understandable. Virtually all software programs feature a visual front end and a database back end. A Web application is nothing more than a Web page front end and a database back end. SQL is the standard language used to access information from the database component regardless of the visual interface.

This month's analysis focuses on scripting languages that carry SQL statements to and from the server-side database.

The low end of the demand curve features the following (jobs listed at in parentheses):

The high end of the demand curve features the following:

One overlooked scripting technology is the following:

Bulk up your skill set today with training in one of these valuable high-demand technologies. These two online training opportunities offer the most promise:
The Perl class is available from Virtual University (VU) and starts Monday, October 10. The ASP.NET class is available from the HP Learning Center and starts Thursday, October 13. VU classes are $20 and HP classes are free.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Kid's Programming Language

Bill Gates and Paul Allen used a programming language called BASIC to launch the personal computer revolution in 1975. Microsoft's version of this language evolved into QuickBASIC (QBasic) in the '80s, Visual Basic (VB) in the '90s, and now Visual Basic . NET (VB.NET).

A new language has emerged to replace BASIC as a starting point to learn computer programming. The
Kid's Programming Language (KPL) is compatible with Microsoft's .NET technology. KPL is being promoted by Microsoft and was developed by an independent company whose engineers are former Microsoft employees.

The original catalyst for the development of KPL was to provide children with a contemporary language to learn programming that makes it easy to develop games with both visual and audio components. By making it fun for kids to learn programming the developers, with Microsoft's endorsement, hope to attract the next generation of computer programmers.

To learn more about KPL access a
press release and product overview. Free software is available for download. Parents and teachers can download a User Guide. Expect additional resources, such as a Dummies book, to be on the market soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Technology Fast 50

Fast growing companies are more likely to hire people than slow growing companies.

Technology companies are more likely to hire technology professionals than non-technology companies.

Here are the 50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in New England as identified by
Deloitte & Touche and reported by Mass High Tech:
  1. Click Tactics, Inc., Waltham, MA
  2., Needham, MA
  3. MBI Benefits Inc. (Metavante Corporation), Waltham, MA
  4. VoiceSignal Technologies, Inc., Woburn, MA
  5. Capital Fulfillment Group, Hingham, MA
  6. WorldWinner, Newton, MA
  7. VistaPrint, Lexington, MA
  8. Oasis Semiconductor, Inc., Waltham, MA
  9. NeuroMetrix, Inc., Waltham, MA
  10. athenahealth, Waltham, MA
  11. Cardiotech International, Inc., Wilmington, MA
  12. Biogen Idec, Inc., Cambridge, MA
  13. Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Lexington, MA
  14. Netspoke (Premiere Global Services), Woburn, MA
  15. OpenAir, Inc., Boston, MA
  16. S4, Inc., Burlington, MA
  17. Evergreen Solar, Inc., Marlboro, MA
  18. Transkaryotic Therapies, Inc., Cambridge, MA
  19. LocatePLUS Holdings Corporation, Beverly, MA
  20. PACE Medical, Inc., Waltham, MA
  21. Outcome Sciences, Inc., Cambridge, MA
  22., Watertown, MA
  23. Ecora Software Corporation, Portsmouth, NH
  24. AVANT Immunotherapeutics, Inc., Needham, MA
  25. Picis, Wakefield, MA
  26. Inverness Medical Innovations, Inc., Waltham, MA
  27. Phase Forward Incorporated, Waltham, MA
  28., Burlington, MA
  29. Matritech, Inc., Newton, MA
  30. Unica Corporation, Waltham, MA
  31. IntelliReach Corporation, Dedham, MA
  32. eCopy, Inc., Nashua, NH
  33. Curis, Inc., Cambridge, MA
  34. Datafarm, Inc., Marlboro, MA
  35. Sepracor, Inc., Marlborough, MA
  36. e-tractions, Bedford, MA
  37. Caliper Life Sciences, Inc., Hopkinton, MA
  38. iBasis, Inc., Burlington, MA
  39. Skyworks Solutions, Inc., Woburn, MA
  40. Elcom International, Inc., Norwood, MA
  41. Palomar Medical Technologies, Burlington, MA
  42. PaperThin, Inc., Quincy, MA
  43. Bentley Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Exeter, NH
  44. LeMaitre Vascular, Inc., Burlington, MA
  45. CrunchTime! Information Systems, Inc., Boston, MA
  46. IntelliCare, South Portland, ME
  47. Softscape, Inc., Wayland, MA
  48. Bruker BioSciences Corporation, Billerica, MA
  49. ScanSoft, Inc., Peabody, MA
  50. Clinical Data, Newton, MA

Sunday, September 11, 2005

What CIOs Want

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are looking for more than a few good networkers. Their IT departments are hiring and if you have knowledge and experience with computer networks they want to hear from you.

The results of a quarterly national poll of more than 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with 100 or more employees are summarized in the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.

The following technical skill sets are most needed by CIOs in their IT departments (percentage of CIO response):

  • Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administration expertise (81%)
  • SQL Server management (51%)
  • wireless network management (49%)

The specialties most in demand in IT departments are as follows:

  • networking (19%)
  • help desk/end user support specialists (15%)
  • applications developers (12%)
  • data/database managers (11%)

If you are new to computer networking help is just a click away at the HP Online Learning Center. Two courses to consider include the following:

Both classes begin Thursday, September 15, have no prerequisite, and are FREE.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Back to School -- HP

Looking for technology training this Fall? Check out Hewlett-Packard's Online Courses. The three classes that offer the most promise include the following:

Classes appear to begin and end at different times. The three classes above begin Thursday, September 15. Enroll now. Popular classes fill up quickly -- they are FREE!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What CIOs Are Saying

Two out of three Chief Information Officers (CIOs) expect to increase hiring in the next 12 months according to an annual Labor Day Poll conducted by CIO Magazine. The vast majority of these tech workers will be direct hire (77%), as opposed to, domestic-based contract workers (11%) or foreign-based contract workers (10%). A detailed press release is available for review.

second survey of CIOs conducted by Robert Half Technology provides insight into the background of the ideal tech candidate. IT executives say that, all things being equal, the following three qualifications will tip the scales in the favor of the selected candidate:
  • industry-specific experience (43%)
  • soft skills (32%)
  • relevant certification (15%)
The survey's author recommends candidates new to a particular field focus on transferable skills. "To convince hiring managers they can excel in the organization, prospective employees should relate previous work experience directly to the requirements of the job opening," says Katherine Spencer Lee.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Boston Market -- September

The Monster Employment Index for August rose to its highest level ever indicating continued labor market strength as the Fall hiring season approaches. A search of Web development keywords for opportunities in the Greater Boston Area confirms this demand.

Skills in greatest demand include knowledge and experience with the following:

  • databases (SQL, Oracle, SQL Server, Access)
  • Web page development (HTML, XML)
  • Web programming (Java, JavaScript)
  • Website / database connectivity (ASP, JSP)

Here is a sampling of the opportunities available (approximate number of listings in parentheses):

  • SQL (1,000)
  • Oracle (1,000)
  • Java (700)
  • SQL Server (600)
  • HTML (500)
  • XML (500)
  • ASP (400)
  • Access (300)
  • JavaScript (200)
  • JSP (200)
Skills that continue to lag the marketplace with less than 100 listings each include the following: Flash, Dreamweaver, DHTML, CSS, MySQL, PHP and Cold Fusion.

The links on the right side (under Career Links) provide easy access to Web development opportunities listed at the Website which consistently lists twice as many opportunities as

Monday, August 29, 2005

Steve Jobs Speaks

On June 12 Steve Jobs delivered the Commencement speech to the 114th graduating class at Stanford University. Jobs' message was simple and eloquent. "Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories."
  • the first story is about connecting the dots
  • the second story is about love and loss
  • the third story is about death
A video of the entire address -- 15 minutes total-- is available at YouTube. Why not begin today with words of wisdom from Steve Jobs? Just 15 minutes. "That's it. No big deal."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Boys vs. Girls

Designers beware. Not only must we account for cross-browser design differences, now we must account for cross-gender design differences!

Websites created by men and women are different. So different, in fact, that women prefer Websites developed by women and men showed a preference for Websites developed by men, according to a first-of-its-kind-study published by a Business School in the U.K.

The study's co-author states that "businesses definitely need to sit up and take notice."

The implication is that Websites visited predominantly by one gender (women's beauty products, for example) may be less effective at attracting customers if developed by a person of the opposite gender.

The study evaluated Websites on 23 factors and significant differences were found on more than half of these factors when comparing male vs. female designers. Males, for example, favor the following design esthetics:

  • straight lines (as opposed to rounded forms)
  • few colors in the typeface and background
  • formal or expert language with few abbreviations
Conclusion: If you are an independent Web designer, you might want to obtain feedback from a designer of the opposite sex throughout the design process, especially if your client and/or client's primary target audience is of the opposite sex.

Friday, August 19, 2005

IT Hourly Wages

Hourly wages for Information Technology (IT) professionals averaged $29.38 in the second quarter. This hourly rate equates to an annual salary of more than $61,000.

This hourly pay calculation is based on wage data from 5,000 IT professionals working on short- and long-term projects at 1,000 large employers according to the
Yoh Index of Technology Wages.

Not all IT pay is equal, however. Workers possessing skills that are in heavy demand receive higher-than-average pay. A few of the hottest skills, centered largely around database and programming skill sets, are as follows (average hourly wages in parentheses):
  • ASP.Net ($50.90)
  • C#.Net ($52.09)
  • C/C++ ($49.97)
  • Java Developer ($52.59)
  • Oracle DBA ($53.81)
  • SQL DBA ($47.53)

So, Web developers who want to upgrade their skills -- and their earning potential -- will do well by adding a technology such as ASP.Net to their arsenal. ASP.Net is the latest version of Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) technology.

Software and training does not need to be costly. In fact, Microsoft offers "a lightweight, easy-to-use and easy-to-learn development tool focused exclusively on Web development" called Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition. In addition Microsoft provides an online QuickStart Tutorial. Also, be sure to check out W3Schools' ASP.NET Tutorial for complementary training. All resources referenced are free of charge.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Web Design Pet Peeves

A study of 2,500 adult Internet users in United States reveals Web design features that annoy them when accessing commercial Websites. The implications are clear: more than 70% of visitors who are aggravated when viewing a Web page say they are less likely to make a purchase or even return to the Website!

So, what do visitors find annoying? Here are the top offenders:

  • pop-up ads
  • registration log-on pages
  • eye-catching Flash software

Additional "pet peeves" include the following:

  • dead links
  • confusing navigation
  • slow loading pages
  • ineffective site search tools

Web developers can use this research to educate clients on effective Website design. To review the details of this study access a press release issued by Hostway, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and sponsor of the study.

Hostway is also sponsoring a free Web seminar entitled "How to Design a Consumer-Friendly Web Site" on Tuesday, August 16. It is designed to look at the business ramifications of these "pet peeves" and provide advice and resources for building appealing Web sites.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Boston Market -- August

This month's job market analysis focuses on two core skills -- HTML and SQL.

HTML is used to display information in a Web page. SQL is used to locate and display information stored in a database. The display of database information in a Web page requires knowledge of both HTML and SQL. In addition, knowledge of a scripting language - the glue that binds HTML and SQL - is the third piece of the puzzle that can make a static page dynamic.

Listed below are five common Web-based scripting languages along with the number of jobs currently listed in
  • ASP (126)
  • JSP (94)
  • ASP.NET (74)
  • PHP (31)
  • ColdFusion (10)

Listed below are the number of jobs posted on for our two core skills:

  • HTML (207)
  • SQL (463)

SQL job listings have consistently outpaced HTML job listings by more than a 2:1 ratio throughout the year. In fact, knowledge of SQL is vital in developing proficiency in the top five hottest non-certified skills (25% or more pay growth) in the past twelve months. So, Web designers who want to buff up their resume will do well to add SQL to their skill set.

SQL training is a mere click away by accessing a free SQL Tutorial at W3Schools. If you feel you already have a working knowledge of SQL you can test your knowledge with a 20-question SQL Quiz.