I will tell you right now, that headliner is meant to grab your attention and piss you off a little bit.
Stay pissed. Because this is important. Let me explain what I mean and why you need to stop using just a web, "designer"...
I am Erin Quarles, the Founder, CEO and Lead Developer of TNW Creations, LLC in Austin, Texas (and Pflugerville, Texas). I've been in operation since 1995.
I have a long list of credentials and affirmations as well as my work having been recognized by Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo, Microsoft Encarta (old school), Smithsonian and National Geographic (just to name a few!). The trail of testaments behind me are just a glimpse into my achievements as a full-stack engineer for 26 years.
When most people search for someone to hire, build or manage their website in 2021, they use the term, "Web Designer." It's become so commonplace that Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms only give the category option of, "Web Designer" for website developers. Which is a shame and undervalues full stack engineering as we create more than just pretty visuals.
Back in the day, the common search term and title for someone who managed and built websites was, "Webmaster." A Webmaster mastered the website from frontend (design) to backend (develop), start to finish. They did everything from setting up and managing email accounts to domains and firewalls. But websites have changed tremendously since 1997. What used to be a full-time job for one person is now broken into multiple full scale job positions.
A Web Designer is nota Web Master or a Developer.
He / She is skilled (hopefully) at making websites look aesthetically pleasing. Beautiful, calming or exciting, filled with visual imagery meant to attract attention. They typically studied Art & Design in college and they know their way around a Mac & Adobe's Design Suite. Ask them to photoshop you in front of the Eiffel Tower or dancing with lightning and you probably have a frame worthy photo.
Content is meant to keep the attention of your web visitors after the designer has caught it. Content is typically provided by writers. Many big companies have both a designer and a content writer. They were more than likely an English Major or Philosophy / Psychology student, studying Journalism, Media, Marketing or Communication.
Not far from the Marketing Department of those large companies, you will find another office usually called the IT Deparment. They work hand-in-hand with the Marketing team. This crew would be the web developer, tech support for the company, system admin, website security officer. Maybe even an app programmer depending on the software reach this company has. More than likely this bunch studied applied technology, networking, cyber security or computer engineering. Or they are simply geniuses with computers.
These are your staples for marketing and IT in a large company... this is your necessity. You cannot be responsible for thousands of customer accounts and personal / financial information if you aren't covering all of your bases. So my surprise and irritation this morning was when I discovered a large company with nearly 5,000 followers... who seemingly has no clue their email servers were breached 4 days ago and is actively sending PORN to their clients and a huge list of unsuspecting email addresses captured from the dark web.
I reached out to them on facebook.
Just an FYI but... your clients are being emailed Porn....
Y'all, please bear with me for a minute while I vent...
When you hire JUST a Web Designer,you are missing a huge part of what makes a website. Not only from the very vital sphere of SEO (search engine optimization) but also functionality and security. Who loves a website where buttons don't work or links that take you nowhere? How about frustrating menus and navigation? Frames that POP up and down while you try to select something? Or contact / tech support forms that are broken (looking at you USPS.Com) Yeah, no one does. And all of that falls under web development.
Here are FIVE Things you need to do RIGHT Now to improve (and secure) your Website
Stop hiring just a web "designer" Why? Because decorating a tent with holes while predators prowl your perimeter 24/7 is not wise. Sure, those plants look pretty! And oh my goodness, what a lovely sitting area but... um, can we talk about the giant bear that just dumped on your files and ate one of your clients??!
Don't rely on your secretary to update your website Why? Because he / she is incredible at scheduling and organizing but hasn't any clue on how to defend your website, your files, your emails or your clients from penetration and ransomware attacks at 3am from Kosovo or Malaysia. Forget where it originated - your secretary has not been trained and I guarantee is not PAID for that job.
*CEASE* DIYing your most important marketing tool aka your website. Because you cannot and I repeat CANNOT, ward off attacks on your own. You cannot stop infiltration, viral injections, malware, spam attacks and firewall breaches on your own. You CAN'T. Because you are not a web developer. You are (more than likely) not a cyber security expert. You are skilled with what you do whether it is financial consulting, roofing, property management, tax advising, professional services, retail stores... whatever you do, that's your expertise.
Don't believe for a second that just because you don't see anything wrong, that your website is safe. At this very moment, your website could be sending malicious emails just like the financial company I saw this morning.. meanwhile they are advertising to hire a Graphic Designer on Facebook and they have no idea they've been breached. Having a cyber criminal rifle through your server is like having them go through your desk. If you walked into your office and saw your things had been ransacked, what would you do? Probably call Law Enforcement and then hire security. Or would you grab a shotgun and just sit there trying to do your work while ocassionally keeping an eye out for another breach? No. Then why are you doing this with your website?!
And don't think for a minute that breaching your email server and sending SPAM from your email server is all they did. OH honey... they did more than that. You think they didn't copy every single file while they were in there? They read your calendars, your work flows. They know where Marge takes her dog when she's out of town, they have all your employee's social security numbers, they have your business contacts, your clients, your financial info. They have you. And if they don't have it all now, they will. Most criminals leave a gap, a door, a window open so they can get back in. Why move on when they already know you are an easy mark. They know more about website infiltration and they have your number. You can't just "fix" this on your own. Now you need to hire someone. And you never should have gone without the security support in the first place.
Please hire someone to manage, maintain and secure your website who knows more than design and web development. Hire someone who knows security. The current state of cyber attacks are so severe that not even Microsoft could thwart them (see Outlook Exchange breach 2021) and they have an entire department dedicated to different types of security.
If you are a professional, you need professional help. It's time to stop using staff to operate and maintain something as important as the gateway to your local office network. Make your website security and web development a priority before your business and / or clients are burned.
With love, - your salty full stack web developer (and cyber security expert)
I've been programming, designing, writing and publishing professionally online since 1995. I've worn many hats throughout my life, but the common core of my career has always been media. Besides theportfolio you see on TNW Creations, my internet presence has been substantial for over 2 decades. In 1995, while still in college, I founded TNW Creations and became part of the grassroots development for teaching the Lakhota language online. By 2004, my bilingual work was listed on many sites, including National Geographic , Encarta and Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo. When I'm not developing and writing, you'll find me managing MagicStoryLand.Com, creating kid-friendly game & video content, investigating and initating hostile website takedowns, posting salty articles about cyber threats, moderating UnifyLife.Org and enjoying my community, church & family.