Is now the time to become an e-commerce web designer?
However long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, it’s clear that many businesses will need to adjust to a new reality in which millions of people are self-isolating at home. As long as brick-and-mortar businesses remain closed, those people will need to rely on e-commerce in order to obtain many of their supplies. And that may lead to more demand for web designers who specialize in e-commerce portals.
Right now, job demand for e-commerce web designers is relatively low, according to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. The projected growth for the occupation over the next 10 years is 14.9 percent, and the time-to-fill current positions is 34 days (lower than other tech occupations).
Moreover, the median salary for e-commerce web designers is $59,920. That’s not only lower than UI/UX designers, who pull down a median salary of $79,900, but it’s way under the average annual pay in the technology industry, which hit $94,000 in 2019 (according to the Dice Salary Report).
What’s behind this historically low salary? It’s hard to tell, although it might have something to do with the skills involved. Fortunately, Burning Glass has a breakdown of the baseline and “specialized” skills that are a part of e-commerce web design:
What do you notice? These skills are largely shared by other kinds of designers. In theory, that suggests even designers who haven’t spent a lot of their careers focused on e-commerce can adapt pretty quickly to a new e-commerce task from their company or clients. In turn, that might lower the demand for highly specialized e-commerce web designers.
There’s a chance, though, that COVID-19 could radically rewrite this particular equation. Businesses are shifting rapidly to e-commerce, and those without a strong e-commerce portal and associated infrastructure will need to build that out quickly. As a result, we could see a spike in hiring for all kinds of technologists skilled in e-commerce.
Even if you’re not a designer, therefore, e-commerce skills could become a vital part of your technologist toolkit going forward. But what do you need to know? Fortunately, it’s a pretty short list:
- User Experience (UX)
- Coding Skills
- E-Commerce Analytics and SEO
- Cybersecurity Training
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Designers interested in e-commerce should try to master as much coding as possible. “You need to do not necessarily traditional programming, but you need to have a good understanding of how to develop the application, how to program the application, and how to work with a team,” Dr. Xiaowen Fang, a professor in the School of Computing at DePaul University, told Dice about what goes into an education around all things commerce.
Cybersecurity is another thing that technologists can’t overlook, especially if they’re trying to launch a shopping portal under considerable time pressures. Companies are only too aware of the vulnerabilities that e-commerce portals present to determined hackers. Some 6.3 percent of job postings for software developers/engineers ask for cybersecurity skills, and that number will only grow in coming years.
If e-commerce has ever interested you as a profession or skill to master, keep an eye out; there’s every chance that the demand for technologists with e-commerce abilities will only grow over the next year—and beyond.