Monday, July 31, 2006

Time for a Redesign?

How big is the Internet? According to Metamend, a search engine optimization (SEO) firm, when Bill Clinton was first inaugurated as President in January 1993 there were 200 hostnames in use and only eight of them ended in .com or .net! According to the Netcraft July 2006 Web Server Survey, during the first six months of 2006 an estimated two million hostnames have been added to the Internet -- that's 2,000,000 per month!

So, there is plenty of new work out there for web designers and developers. What about old work -- reworking sites that are already up and running?

According to
Best Website Services, a Chicago-based consulting firm, here is the one question you can use to initiate a dialogue with a client about the potential for a site redesign:

"Is the basic design of your Web site more than two years old?"

If so, the potential client should consider a redesign. Here are seven follow-up questions you can use in your discussion with that client that will help clarify the need for a redesign:
  1. Was the site built on a tight budget?
  2. Does the site look dated?
  3. Has the client's business changed?
  4. Has the competition gotten ahead of the client?
  5. Has the client gained a better understanding of its customers?
  6. Is the content difficult or costly to keep fresh?
  7. Does the client need to increase the site's visibility?

For a detailed explanation of each talking point access "Seven Signs You Need a Web Site Redesign."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ajax Workshop

As we read in last week's post, Web 2.0 means different things to different people. But the one Web 2.0 buzzword that may add value to your resume right now is Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

AJAX Workshop is now available online. The first class starts Friday, August 4. One new class session will be posted each week for a total of ten weeks.

The workshop is offered by a technology architect at Sun Microsystems. While the course is designed as an overview there are prerequisites as follows:

  • Some HTML experience helpful but not required
  • Some JavaScript experience helpful but not required
  • 1 month Java programming experience
  • 1 month web application programming experience
The course creator offers links to tutorials to help you gain experience with technologies you may not feel comfortable with. In addition, several software packages and components need to be downloaded and installed in order to participate fully. Check out the Course FAQ for details to help you decide if the training is right for you at this time -- the workshop will be offered several times throughout the year.

To register simply join the Ajax Workshop Yahoo! Group or send an e-mail to

If you decide to make a commitment to Ajax training, additional materials are available to assist with your development. In particular, check out the following books available from Sams Publishing:

If you have more than ten minutes to devote to your career development, then check out the following:

The "10 Minute" books will set you back $15 each. The "24 Hour" book costs $25. When you become a Sams Publishing member -- which is FREE -- you'll receive a 30% discount on your first order.

So, for a maximum investment of only $40, plus a consistent time commitment over a ten-week period, you could become one of the first kids on your block to put Ajax to use. Wouldn't that make your mom proud?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dale Carnegie Skills

"The only way candidates can win that next coveted job is to distinguish themselves from the other hundreds of job seekers vying for the role," according to Gary Lust, a senior technology recruiter. "Everyone . . . can do the tech stuff. To get to that next level you have to provide both the tech and the business skills necessary today," continues Lust in an interview in Information Week.

Lust suggests technology professionals should consider developing "Dale Carnegie" skills to help distinguish themselves from their equally qualified peers. The most valuable non-technical skill for technology professionals to develop may well be sales skills.

No matter where you are in the life cycle of your career, sales skills can make a difference when attempting to . . .

  • land that first job
  • land a better job
  • land a consulting assignment
  • convince a client they should use your services over your competition's

One of the best ways to learn about sales skills, and begin practicing proven sales techniques, is to follow the lead of business executives who are constantly looking for that competitive advantage. BusinessWeek magazine offers insight each month with the publication of The BusinessWeek Best-Seller List (pdf). Sitting in the four and five positions are the following:

In an earlier blog article I reviewed The World is Flat, the long-standing #1 on this popular list of business books. I outlined why technology professionals should read this book to help understand how to position themselves in today's global economy.

In these companion books sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer provides insight into the sales process. Like many technology professionals I find myself a bit uncomfortable in my current roll as "salesman" as I attempt to advance my career by landing a new job. What I found most refreshing about Gitomer's approach is that many of the manipulative sales techniques we've all been exposed to from time to time (think: used car salesman) are actually counterproductive. Successful long-term sales is more about relationship-building and adding value up front before the sale is made.

If you are looking to land that first job, make more money, or otherwise advance your technology career, then The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers might be more valuable than any technology book on your shelf today. Buy them, read them, study them, master them -- profit from them!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Web 2.0 Update

According to one viewpoint, Web 2.0 is a vague buzzword with no fixed meaning that incorporates whatever is new and popular on the Web (blogs, podcasts, social networks, etc.).

According to Wikipedia, "
Web 2.0 refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online."

According to the majority of Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Web 2.0 is a combination of promise and hype. The results of
a recent poll of 184 CIOs reveals how they view Web 2.0:

  • a promising new business model (9%)
  • marketing hype (20%)
  • a combination of promise and hype (56%)
  • unsure (15%)

An analysis of the current job market confirms the viewpoint of the majority of CIOs. Listed below are a few of the buzzwords commonly associated with "Web 2.0" along with the number of job listings mentioning that keyword [,]:

  • Ajax [ 22 ][ 68 ]
  • RSS [ 1 ][ 17 ]
  • blog [ 4 ][ 1 ]
  • wiki [ 3 ][ 2 ]
  • mashup [ 0 ][ 0 ]
  • podcast [ 2 ][ 0 ]

Clearly, Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is the one Web 2.0 technique that has value in today's marketplace. However, knowledge of the technologies that are used in the Ajax technique (JavaScript and XML) carry even greater market weight as follows:

By this measure XML is a full order of magnitude (10 times) more valuable in the marketplace than Ajax. If you want to place a bet on Web 2.0, it makes sense to place it on XML.

To learn more about XML, sign up for XML: Introduction, a FREE course offered at the HP Learning Center. Class begins Thursday, July 13.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Boston Market -- Third Quarter, 2006

The Monster Employment Index hit another all-time high in June -- its eighth new high in the last 12 months -- indicating strong job demand. "Higher demand for white-collar occupations such as management, finance and IT suggests continued momentum of U.S. economy amid increasingly tight labor market," according to a Monster press release.

Beantown Web monitors IT jobs (Web-related jobs to be specific) on a monthly basis via the "Boston Market" series of postings. Beginning this month, and continuing on a quarterly basis, Beantown Web will conduct a more thorough TACK analysis. Acronyms abound throughout the technology industry and TACK is Beantown Web's contribution to the naming confusion. TACK stands for Tools, Acronyms, Containers, and Knowledge.

  • Tools -- software programs used in Web design and development
  • Acronyms -- languages used in Web design and development
  • Containers -- database programs used to store information
  • Knowledge -- certifications that indicate proficiency in a specific technology area

One way to gauge the current job demand is through a keyword search on specific technology skills at selective online job sites. Beantown Web monitors two sites: BostonWorks and Monster. Keywords are then grouped into one of the four TACK categories.

A few of the common keywords associated with Web design and Web development jobs are included in the listings below.

Note: the numbers in parentheses indicate the number of job postings that list that keyword in the job description. [ First number: ][ Second number: ]

Tools (software)

  • Photoshop [ 92 ][219]
  • Flash [ 44 ][ 38 ]
  • Dreamweaver [ 46 ][ 81 ]
  • Visual Studio [ 29 ][ 116 ]

Acronyms (languages)

Containers (databases)

Knowledge (certifications)

  • The demand for certified professionals varies by discipline. All things being equal certification helps to distinguish you from your competition. An appropriate certification entry point for Web design and Web development professionals is Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW). For a complete listing of all technology certifications, along with links to the appropriate certification Website, be sure to check out the Web Apprentices Career Center.

A few quick observations:

  • consistently lists twice as many opportunities as
  • Acronym (language) skills are in greater demand than Tool (software) skills
  • Container (database) skills are in greater demand than Tool (software) skills

Web designers and developers who want to maneuver their careers (TACK through the winds of constant technology change) should focus on one Acronym (language) and one Container (database) and set a near-term goal to obtain additional training and experience.

Recommended training courses for July are as follows:

All three courses are available for FREE compliments of the HP Learning Center. Classes begin Thursday, July 13.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The 86 Best Places to Work

Computerworld has identified the 100 Best Places to Work in IT in America. Three of them are in Massachusetts:

The Society of Human Resource Management has identified the 50 Best Small and Medium Businesses to Work in America. Three of them are in Massachusetts:

The Boston Business Journal has identified the 80 Best Places to Work in Massachusetts in four categories as follows:

Emerging Companies (10-24 Employees)

Small Companies (25-100 Employees)

Midsize Companies (101-500 Employees)

Large Companies (500+ Employees)