Why is it so many web people, both developers and designers, operate in a bubble? Especially in higher ed it seems that not only is it every man for himself, but each of those must make sure they do so without any input from anyone else.
Web development is a broad topic, and with the advent of social media and other new media a single person cannot expect to succeed on the web without help and input. Anyone who tells you they can do it all is not someone I would want to hire myself.
So how do we as web developers avoid working in a bubble?
1.) Recognize your weaknesses
We can’t be experts at everything. Some people are graphic designers, some are coders, others are writers, etc. As web professionals we need to know not only our strengths, but we need to recognize our weaknesses as well.
2.) Ask for help
In higher ed this can be rough, departments tend to operate in almost a tribal system fearful of anyone else. However it doesn’t need to be that way. If department xxx has a great coder and department yyy has a great writer they can work together to achieve a greater product for both departments. Identify those who have strengths in areas you are weak and ask them for help and advice.
3.) Offer help back
I am currently working on completing a server setup for the journalism department here at SIU as they lack the expertise to implement it themselves. As professionals we need to be conscious of those in our community and offer help where we can. Not only will the other group/department/etc benefit from your assistance, but in a cash strapped environment a returned favor later might be just what you need.
4.) Establish a running dialog
Whether it be through social media, informal lunches, or formal meetings be a leader in your community and establish a way for the web people around you to communicate. Not only might you find ways to help each other, but in many fragmented communities the camaraderie alone might be just what one needs to boost their spirits.
In the end what it comes down to is even the best web professionals can benefit from the experience of others. If your community doesn’t foster communication naturally among your peers that take the reigns yourself and start a working dialog. Not only might those around you benefit greatly, but you might learn a trick or two yourself.
As I finish this post I’m curious. What do you do to avoid working in a bubble in your community?