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August 26th: A Toast to Women in Tech

116 & West

August 26 is National Webmistress Day, supporting all the women in web development careers. While I’m not a huge fan of the term “Webmistress” (mistress, really?), I am a fan of the day and what it represents. Women in tech are awesome.

Something I’ve noticed over the past few years talking to students and interns is that having a “job in tech” seems much more unrealistic than it actually is, meaning they think they have to become an engineer or a super-smart scientist. This is just not the case. Working with technology spans a wide array of careers that many don’t consider. Let’s dive into this further, shall we?

Megan Nicholls

What is UX/UI?

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are two very important components when designing a website. Websites aren’t simply poofed out of thin air with a design wand/mouse. There are specific, well-thought-out foundations that are laid as groundwork before design and development even begin. This is where a UI/UX designer comes in.

A UI/UX designer focuses on how the user views and interacts with the product. The “experience” portion focuses on usability, accessibility, and overall enjoyment of the site. The “interface” portion focuses on the layout of the site, and if the user is ultimately funneling to the correct places. This includes laying out (which we call wireframing) each page of the site showing where each important piece of the page needs to go. Like I said, important stuff!

Many UI/UX professionals come from design backgrounds, such as our own Megan Nicholls. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Boise State University and transitioned to a digital design focus through continuing education as her career progressed. When asked what her favorite thing was about UI/UX and web design, she responded with the following:

“Digital is always evolving. It’s not permanent, and you can always make updates based on analytics and feedback you receive from users. Basically, it’s fluid, and that’s what I love the most.”

Mel MansfieldWhat is Graphic Design?

While many designers have successful careers outside of the digital space, having digital design skills helps boost relevancy in the industry. Specifically focusing on web/technical design will get you the “Webmistress” (still hate the word) status. As Megan states above, digital design is constantly changing, and if you are a sucker for learning, then this is the space for you.

Our Executive Creative Director, Mel, has a heavy digital design background and has channeled her passion for creativity into some pretty epic websites. Here’s what she had to say about creative women in tech:

“I think us ladies sometimes forget that we don’t all have to be a coder to be considered a woman in tech. There are so many non-technical roles: digital marketing, e-commerce, social media strategy, UI/UX and web design are all important parts of the tech ecosystem. I made the pivot from a traditional to a hybrid-digital role because I’m excited and a little obsessed with the ever-evolving tech industry and what the path forward offers me. Change is good!”
Samantha Carmer

What is Digital Marketing?

This one is broad, but there are a lot of digital marketing careers that allow you to work in tech, specifically with websites. Software integrations, marketing automation, and CRM are all important components of a marketing strategy that integrate with a company’s website. Being able to manage these different platforms is a highly sought-after skill, and there are a plethora of careers that center around these tactics.

Our Digital Marketing Director, Samantha (oh hey, that’s me!), transitioned into a tech-focused role after seeing the opportunities it presented.

“What is awesome about jobs in tech is the number of resources available to you to learn. Everything I know now I taught myself in some aspect. You could become a kick-ass developer, video game programmer, 3D modeler, really anything, through online resources and continuing education. Start exploring, see what you like, and do it!”

Let’s Talk Creativity

Drumroll please……it’s time for Sam’s Soapbox Moment. Let’s take a beat to talk about creativity. The term “being creative” is typically only associated with artistic-type jobs, like writing, drawing, sculpting, etc. But creativity is a part of everything we do. All tech jobs are creative.

Understanding user experience and applying that to a website is creative because you are actively forming an overall picture for someone to interact with. Developing websites is creative because you are creating a unique code that builds something beautiful. Managing a marketing automation platform is creative because you are understanding engagement and figuring out the best way to stand out in the clutter of an email inbox. It’s all creative, and creative is fun! 116 & West is a creative agency, and when we describe ourselves that way we aren’t just talking about our designers, we are talking about everyone. Ok, soapbox moment over.

So now what?

Well first, take a minute and acknowledge all the awesome sh*t that women in tech, specifically web dev, are accomplishing. Notice the thought, the creativity, that goes into each project. Second, keep on doing that, because you should never stop acknowledging awesome sh*t.
Cheers to all the Webmistresses (ugh), and upcoming Webmistresses (barf), in tech! Crush it, girls.

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