Technology has been brought to us to make our lives easier, but just as our iPad’s and our iPhones and our Amazon Echo’s do their best to make tech useable and easy, there are still other parts of technology that make heads spin. When that happens, we tend to turn to consultants. That person who knows more than we do to help us get through. We have dubbed this person the “computer guy” or the “web guy”, the “web developer” or the “web designer”, the “admin” or “administrator”, or “smart person who knows stuff”.
If I had a dollar for every time I had a client tell me “my computer guy said…”, I’d be retired and riding on some catamaran out on the water somewhere without Internet access. Alas, I do not have a dollar for every time I’ve been told that, but my eyes have gotten sore from the eye roll that subsequently ensues every time I hear this uttered. Why, might you ask, does this elicit such a response every time I hear “that web dude whose my neighbor…”?
The reason is it’s almost certain that the person uttering this phrase is desperate for help and went to the one person in their life who is a ‘computer guy’, and that ‘computer guy’ almost certainly doesn’t know the slightest about the topic at hand.
I have had clients hire me as a consultant, and then get upset when I would state I’d need to hire a developer for them to complete the currently requested project. “What, you can’t do that? Isn’t that what I hire you for?” No, I can’t, and no, that’s not what you hired me for. But as an admin, a consultant, I CAN help pull in the key players to make your project come to life, if you would like.
There are many different areas of study in technology. Of course, us techno-peeps also have egos and we love to proclaim that we know everything, or at least a little bit about many of the different areas of study in tech, but the fact is, there are different tech people for different purposes. Some examples:
- Web Developer
- Web Designer
- A web designer is someone who is great at making things pretty. They conceptualize the look and feel of your website or your app. Their coding doesn’t go passed HTML and CSS (though they aren’t fans of that either, they’d rather draw).
- Web Administrator
- An administrator is someone who knows how to take all the pieces and put them together. They likely have moderate coding knowledge, and maybe even moderate design knowledge (they can optimize an image in Photoshop, but may not generate the best logos). There are even different types of admins. Are they a site admin, or a server admin? Two VERY different things.
- Server Administrator
- This guy knows how to procure or build servers that sit in a rack in a datacenter and put all the pieces together to make it do what you want. They know some coding, they know some databasing, but for the deep stuff they’d hire someone for that.
- That dude who builds computers
- Otherwise known as the kid next door, or the Geek Squad guy, etc. This guy may be fantastic at playing World of Warcraft, he can certainly build you a mean speed machine, and is super great at finding his way around Windows. This guy is not the guy you ask to help migrate your site from one host to another, or what to do if your website gets hacked.
Obviously, these are generalizations. This is by no means a knock on any of these professions. There are also cases where you have someone who has experience across several of these professions. However, when I have a client who tells me “my computer guy says my RSS feed is broken because it only displays code in Chrome”, I want to explain to them that their computer guy obviously isn’t someone who works with podcast RSS feeds.
Make sure the person you are hiring (whether for pay or for free) for advice actually has experience in the question you are asking. You may have hired the person for something different, it’s ok to go to someone else with experience in your new question (in fact, your current guy may even have a recommendation).
I haven’t built servers in five years. If someone asked me to do so, I could catch up with a little research, but I’d be much more comfortable recommending someone whose been doing it during my five year blackout.