Web development and design is new. Although there are very good developers and designers out there and there are many similarities between the conventional print media and Internet in terms of design concepts, there are some major differences which makes the team building process very difficult and unique.
The skill-set required from each individual team member is so diversified, you cannot just put one job description anymore for any position – the designer needs to understand from the code and vice versa. Plus not just the technical skills or know-how that is important, but the soft skills like communication skills, inter-personal skills are getting so much important due to the dynamic environment and collaboration opportunities.
Seth posted exceptionally well put blog posts, one about two years ago, and another one recently about the talent that you need for your online business. He is talking about three types of talent/position that you should hire
- Community organizer – I name her as the networks manager, who is responsible to find your tribe and lead them, who creates different channels and manages the communication for your app. She can help you find what and where your tribe is.
- Stats fiend – Your analytics member, number cruncher, who measures everything and optimizes. She can tell how your tribe interacts, behaves with your application.
- Architect – Organizational architects know how to find suppliers, use the cloud (of people, of data, of resources), identify freelancers, tie together disparate resources and weave them into a business that scales.
I would add only one more attribute to the Architect definition: be a design agent. Design not only affect the aesthetics of your web application but also the usability and the experience altogether and it is vital for the Architect to have a killer instincts in design to attract all these talents and resources to further build something that is remarkable and much better than it’s individual parts.
Jason Fried (37 signals) is a perfect example of an Architect with killer design instincts. He has an interesting and very effective style in terms of running a team of developers and designers by rotating their projects every two months to add more spice and excitement to the development cycle – their team consist of 8 programmers, 5 designers, 3 customer service, 3 system administer and 1 writer.
On the other hand, Aaron Patzer (Mint.com) values engineers much more than any business people – so much that he is not shy in showing that by assigning negative value for any business/marketing person in his team. He started with 3-4 engineers, 1 designer and 1 business person to launch his business.