In My Opinion: Ryan Falconer: Why media pros should be multi-skilled

THE years since the invention of the internet have been a boom time for the media industry. It may not look that way to certain sections of the industry, however, because it has also been a time of immense change.

Print media, for example, have at times been squeezed by competition from new, cheap-to-run digital counterparts. But on the whole, the industry has exploded.

New digital-only media companies have appeared just as more traditional media firms have developed digital arms.

Niche publications that would once have struggled to meet printing costs can now set up online cheaply and gain immediate access to a worldwide audience.

This combination of expansion and immense change has led to a similarly big explosion of the number of different skills that are used in the media industry.

In a way, I’m a walking example of this. I’m a freelance user experience designer and web designer (alongside some other business interests such as a start-up software training platform). In other words, I have a job that didn’t even exist before the internet came along.

Web design can perhaps find something of an analogue in certain areas of page layout and graphic design, but UX is definitely a new concept. Alongside me, the internet has also seen the appearance of SEO professionals, people and people who specialise in new, digital marketing channels.

This is to say nothing of programmers and developers whose craft still looks like wizardry to the average member of the public and even some people within the industry.

This process is still ongoing. With so many new skill types and specialisms, the industry has become a very mixed collection of individuals. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there are few, if any, industries that can rival the media when it comes to having this eclectic mix of different bedfellows.

For the most part, we all enjoy a comfortable co-existence. The new professionals have been embraced by the industry for the value that they can bring. But that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. On the contrary, I believe that nothing is perfect and there is always room for improvement, especially when the arrangement is still a young one.

So how can this arrangement be improved?

I believe that all professionals within the media industry should take an open mind to finding out more about how other people’s jobs are done and getting a grip of the many skills that are involved in the industry.

This doesn’t mean that a content writer, for example, should train in graphic design until he could competently do that job him or herself. But even a basic grasp can help you appreciate just how these processes work.

In particular, pay attention to when one person’s work has to be tweaked for the benefit of another.

This will help you understand how your work interfaces with that of others, and whether you can you make each other’s jobs easier by working with this in mind.

This keeps everybody happy and helps make sure the business ticks over efficiently.

In short, everybody wins in every way.

Ryan Falconer is a freelance user experience designer, and also runs online software training platform,