March 19, 2001

Strong demand for web design good for students

Josh Renaud

Conventional wisdom can be pretty fickle sometimes. It was about this time last year that the web and tech companies were booming and could do no wrong. Now, one year later, most of the dot-coms are out of business and the Nasdaq is plummeting. The same folks in the press singing the praises of the web now shake their heads and talk as if they had warned the public of the disaster potential all along.

Conventional wisdom may be fickle, but that doesn't change the need. It's come to my attention lately that there are still a lot of folks who need or want websites and are willing to pay someone to create them. The big web companies may have bottomed out, but for students, there are some amazing opportunities.

Some of those opportunities can be found on campus. At the Faculty Senate meeting this week, several senators complained about the primordial look of some UMSL department websites.

I have to agree. The UMSL front page is decent, but as you begin to explore deeper, some of these sites are downright ugly and totally out of date. A few blessed departments have been able to pay professionals to design their sites or had talented MIS, CS, or Communications students assemble one. But by and large, most of the UMSL pages are nasty.

Later this week I listened to some members of the Alumni Association make similar laments. The site they wanted to build was probably too complex for a student, but it reinforced the idea that there is still a big market for web design.

And most of the people who need web design aren't looking for anything particularly fancy. Usually a site with a simple, clean and professional design will suffice. Often, these individuals don't know much about the internet or the web. All they know is that they want to get the word out about a product, a service, or an organization, and the web seems like an inexpensive way to do it. They're looking for people who can explain web sites in simple terms and put together something nice.

So students, don't be scared away by the headlines. There's a high demand for quality web work right here on campus and in the St. Louis community. If you've got the skills, this is definitely something that can help pay the bills.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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