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Online Producer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotOnline 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 site.

"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.

dotEach 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.

dotContent 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.

dotLearning 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.

dotOnline 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.

dotBefore 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.

dotThere is no heavy lifting involved. The only danger for an online producer, says Strycula, is carpal tunnel syndrome.

At a Glance

Control the look of a website

  • You're responsible for the text, the features and the functionality of the site
  • This job can require some odd hours
  • Training in marketing, graphics design, web programming and writing is good