Online producers are kind of like directors of a movie. They are responsible
for the text, as well as the overall look and the features being used on the
"I would characterize an online producer as someone who is responsible
for the content and functionality on the website. Users come to expect content
that is fresh, timely and updated frequently," says Amy Strycula. She wears
the hat of online producer, but her job title is creative director for a website.
Each online producer's job description will differ, depending on the subject
matter of the site. Strycula selects online shopping experiences that are
very cool and provides a description on her site of the shopping experience,
as well as a link to that shopping site.
Marva Marrow, on the other hand, is the editor-in-chief in charge of online
producing for a site on pets. She must keep up with the pet industry. She
hires a writer or veterinarian expert to supply content, but she gives the
final approval to anything that appears on her site. Most importantly, she
wants the information online to be accurate. If it's not, she says, a pet
could get hurt.
So far, not one of the people above has been termed an "online producer."
The reason is that online producer is a very "slippery term," admits Tracy
Nesdoly. She is the editor-in-chief of an online book retailer and is also
in charge of online producing. One person, such as an editor-in-chief, is
usually the online producer in addition to their other roles.
Content is not the only concern of producers. "It is also very important
to spend time analyzing the results of product sales, traffic patterns on
the site, number of banner ads displayed and click-through rates, as these
are the real measure of how effective the content really is -- and how we
make money," says Strycula.
David Hainline is chief operating officer and executive vice-president
of the online division of a bookseller. He is responsible for editorial and
site content, but he also oversees the e-commerce operations, including retailing
and merchandising, logistics and fulfillment, marketing and communications
and customer service, he says.
Learning the humanities side is probably most important, agree Strycula
and Marrow. You must be extremely familiar with the subject area, they say,
because you are in control of the content.
The technical side of it should not be discounted, however. "In order to
understand the possibilities of how the content can be presented in a compelling
way, it takes some amount of understanding of the realm of technical possibilities.
That doesn't mean you have to know how to code a Flash page, for example,
but it's really helpful to know how Flash, for example, can help present a
concept," explains Strycula.
Online producers work near their computers. Sometimes their office is in
their own homes, if they started the website or if they are allowed to telecommute.
Bigger companies usually have cubes or offices available to the online producer.
The hours are not straight 9 to 5, says Marrow. If you are launching your
own website, expect to live and breathe the job. Even with more staff, Marrow
finds herself working weekends occasionally when under deadline.
Before you dive into the career, Marrow says some activities may help you
decide whether you will like the world of online producing. Creating your
own website and managing it will give you a taste, she says.
There is no heavy lifting involved. The only danger for an online producer,
says Strycula, is carpal tunnel syndrome.