But markup, CSS, and content strategy only represent a small sliver of what makes up a successful modern web project. Todays web is a series of complex digital products, and building one means expertise in technology architecture, scaling, server-side application programming, client-side application programming, deployment, social media, marketing, user experience, interaction design—and yes, content strategy, CSS, and HTML markup (and probably several more things that are escaping me at the moment).
You may be thinking, but I cant do all that myself. No, you probably cant. But the greatest products on todays web are cases where teams have integrated each of these thoughtfully and elegantly. The true beauty of any great digital product lies in the intersection between these various aspects. Without people understanding the big picture of how a modern web project works, from top to bottom, there is bound to be failure at these all-important integration points.
Think about the products you truly love on todays web. Maybe its Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Foursquare. Or Instagram. Or whatever. Now ask yourself: are the books youre reading, online resources youre using, and conferences youre attending giving you a well-rounded enough education that youd be able to oversee the building of a product along these lines, understanding how each piece works and fits together with the others? If not, Id suggest your education may not be diverse enough.
The trouble (as Nathan Smith thoughtfully observed), is that the limited scope of these resources, despite the inclusive-sounding tone of the slogan (for people who make websites), gives designers and front-end developers the distinct impression that they cant, or shouldnt, dive any deeper (or go any higher) into the stack.
Of course, there are plenty of resources out there for these other topics. There are social media conferences, sites like StackOverflow helping people learn to program, and books on just about every topic under the sun. Unfortunately, though, each of these resources generally exists in a vacuum, fragmenting the community (people who make websites), and ensuring that we fail at the intersection points. If the community isnt talking about the integration points, and isnt neatly integrated itself, then the products we build wont be neatly integrated, either.
My feeling is that the people who make the truly great digital products—the ones that make our world a better place to live—are the folks who are well-rounded enough to make sense of the entire stack, at least as a high level, and my hope for the new year is that more of the professional development resources our community offers will begin looking at things holistically.