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  1. #1
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    Web industry question

    Hey guys,

    Iím hoping I can get some advice from some of you guys in the web design field. For the past 7 years Iíve been working as a 3d artist in the video game industry. Itís been fun for sure, but lately Iíve been contemplating getting into the web/UI field. I can do some coding, but I would rather focus more on the design side of things.

    There are a few reasons Iím thinking of making the switch. Layoffs are very common in the game industry. Iíve had to find a new job almost every single year I started and so have most of my friends. It would be nice to be in an industry that doesnít make cuts every time a project ends. To those in the Web/UI design industry, how different is it from what Iíve described? Do you find yourself having to look for a new job every year or two?

    Also, finding full-time work has become a lot harder. These days, game companies usually will hire people on as contractors without benefits, and companies are outsourcing to China and India more and more to cut costs. The market is getting pretty saturated too. Do you guys see the web/UI design industry moving in this direction?

    Work-life balance is another reason. Hours can be very long in the game industry. If things arenít scheduled properly you can find yourself working 60+ hours a week for weeks at a time. This is becoming more common than when I got in games 7 years ago as games get bigger and more complex. I just got married a couple of years ago and my wife and I are thinking of starting a family so I would definitely need a good work-life balance. I know it can vary from company to company, but do you guys in the web design field feel there is a good work-life balance with most places you work for?

    From my research, it seems like there are a lot more options as a web/UI designer and the pay is better. There are UI roles in the video game industry, but it seems that someone with a UI skillset could get a job working on websites and mobile apps as well and not be limited to one industry. Right now, I feel my current skillset limits me to just doing 3d art in the game industry. Do you guys feel itís easy to jump around designing for different platforms or do you feel you still need to specialize in one thing as a designer?

    Any advice you guys can give would be most appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Jason

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    I can't speak to all of your questions, as I'm a part-time freelancer with a day job, which I'll get into more in a moment, but I have been around this industry a while.
    Quote Originally Posted by jasong View Post
    Also, finding full-time work has become a lot harder. These days, game companies usually will hire people on as contractors without benefits, and companies are outsourcing to China and India more and more to cut costs. The market is getting pretty saturated too. Do you guys see the web/UI design industry moving in this direction?
    I've been hired on as a contractor for a few projects. It does happen, but it depends on the project. I've been hired on as part of a team built by the client. In that situation, once it was over, so was the employment. It worked for me because of my situation, but that's probably not going to work for you. Some clients will do that, but from what I've seen, they generally prefer to hire a company to do the work. That'd be more your thing. I've also been brought in to augment a company's team when they were overloaded. I didn't really enjoy that as much, because I was an outsider pulled into an established team. I became little more than a code monkey, and I probably won't be doing that again.

    Quote Originally Posted by jasong View Post
    Work-life balance is another reason. Hours can be very long in the game industry. If things aren’t scheduled properly you can find yourself working 60+ hours a week for weeks at a time. This is becoming more common than when I got in games 7 years ago as games get bigger and more complex. I just got married a couple of years ago and my wife and I are thinking of starting a family so I would definitely need a good work-life balance. I know it can vary from company to company, but do you guys in the web design field feel there is a good work-life balance with most places you work for?
    This is where I tell you about my day job. I'm a Master Sergent in the US Air Force. I'm no stranger to what you're dealing with here. I'll spare you the bit about deployments, but focus on the 60+ hours a week. 14 years in, and that's always been the way. Honestly, maintaining that balance becomes second nature. I'll grant you, it isn't for some people. It can, however be done. You just learn to devote the time you do have to your family, and be flexible, and they in turn learn to be flexible.
    Ron Roe
    Web Developer
    "If every app were designed using the same design template, oh wait...Bootstrap."

  4. #3
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I'm in a similar situation to Ron, except that I don't have a "day job"...freelancing is my day job. And occasionally my night job. And sometimes my weekend job. But mostly my day job. Now, I'm a developer and not really a designer, so my take is a bit different than what you're looking for, but it's pretty similar for the most part.

    To answer your overall question as far as "where the industry is moving" as honestly as I possibly can, I really don't give a damn. "Jobs" can be outsourced to China, India, Russia, Vietnam, or a hut in a jungle in darkest Africa for all I care. The reason I don't care is the reason you shouldn't either...none of the countries that are popular destinations for outsourcing represent unfavorable employment competition in any way whatsoever. I've actually been hired to replace an entire team of eight developers and data entry specialists from India for a site and have done a better job by myself without actually doing the data entry (I build bots for that, with both the client's and suppliers' permission) than the entire team combined. They're cheaper, and yes there are companies out there that simplistically equate lower cost to greater value, but there are enough companies out there that will hire someone that charges more if they do better work overall since that represents savings. If you want an idea of how clueless offshore developers and designers are, have a look in the SEO forums here...there are plenty of sheep-bleating posts about "Forum Posting, Social Bookmarking, Blog Commenting and (insert other rhetoric here) for Off-Page SEO Google #1 Super High Ranking".

    The designers and developers I've seen are like that...they're great at performing mindless and repetitive tasks, and some of the ones in countries such as Belarus and Vietnam are decent programmers in the sense that they can code something to custom specs, but they're not going to take a look at a problem such as "how would we set up a server and a real-time inventory control system such that our site and our accounting program are synchronized?" and know how to setup the server, research the location of the API if there is one, work with the API support, and do things like that. They also have difficulty understanding Western context and non-technical language They need a middleman who has the technical culture required to communicate with them and the ability to interpret what a client is saying and translate it into something they'll be able to develop with, and I perform this task for two of my clients.

    Now, I'm going to tell you where / why your thinking is wrong...you're looking at a change of career because you want stable work. Understandable thinking, prevailing wisdom, but incorrect thinking nonetheless. Why is it flawed? Because it doesn't address the other side of the coin...what is your unique value proposition? What skills, wisdom, experience, or combination of the above do you bring to the table that no one else can? From the sounds of it, you haven't really established this in your gaming career or you wouldn't have to find work every year. Even if layoffs are common, unless you're going through jobs where the entire company or your division shuts down every year you should still be able to overcome this if you're sufficiently skilled at your job. You might get laid off once or twice for outsourcing, division / company closing, and / or political reasons, but you shouldn't be at a point every year where you have to go out and start all over again...especially if they have you working 60+ hours per week. Either the gaming industry is horribly myopic, you're insufficiently skilled, or most likely it's a combination of both.

    If you're going to go into graphic web design, you're going to run into the same problems that you're running into with the gaming industry and you're not going to have your experience as a 3D artist to back you. I'm not a talented graphic artist and I'll be the first to admit that, but there are tons of them out there. There are even sites such as 99designs.com that take advantage of "crowdsourcing" and basically get people to work for peanuts to come up with logos and website layouts and things like that, and a lot of them do pretty good work. There really isn't a reason for a company to hire a full-time graphic artist unless that artist is so talented and so amazing and so unique (all of which are highly subjective) that the company just can't live without that artist.

    The point of all this is trite, but it's also the truth: if you're going to be a web designer, you need to offer something unique and valuable. If you can do that, you'll have no real competition. If you can't, you'll have too much.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  5. #4
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    Thanks to both of you for your replies!

    If I was still single these things wouldn't concern me as much, but moving into family life feels like a huge responsibility so I'm doing what I can to prepare for it.

    Thanks for the insight Ron, good to know there are people that can still make time for their family even with a super hectic work schedule.

    TheGAME1264, I totally see your point about outsourcing. When I was at Sony we had to manage the outsourcing they did and 95% of the time we had to fix what was delivered. Even so, many companies stay the course and outsource the art whenever they can and leave a small team in house to do clean up work. And they probably feel they can get away with this because you can ship a game with average or above-average art and have it still sell well as long as it's fun and engaging.

    Being able to bring something unique to the table, from an artist's standpoint, is definitely a challenge because of what I just mentioned. I can think only of a couple of people in my specific discipline who wouldn't have trouble finding work. While I'm certainly not the best, I'm certainly not the worst either. And as I mentioned many of my friends have been in same situation of having to find new work every year or two. Now all my programming friends on the other hand, they don't have this problem. Their discipline is very much in demand.

    I guess I'm just trying to see if the web industry is any more stable for an artist/designer and it sounds pretty iffy...

    Thanks again for the feedback,
    Jason

  6. #5
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Yeah, it is. Just so you get the idea, here's your competition...and Shaneka's really, really good (she's also a WDFer).

    Website Designs Graphics, Logos | myiwdesigns

    When you see her portfolio, you'll see why.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

    My stuff (well, some of it): My bowling alley site | Canadian Postal Code Info (beta)


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