Personal and Professional Blog of Rich Hauck

I got a job!

by: Rich Hauck


After 14 years of self-employment, I was ready for a new challenge. Starting Monday, I’ll be joining the NYSE full time as an engineer. I’ll only have to work part-time on Wall Street, so I fortunately won’t have to uproot the family out of Harrisburg.

I’m glad I’m transitioning on my own terms, as I could’ve taken a contract over the job offer. I’ve been pinching myself lately, as a number of long-term contract opportunities have materialized since I made this decision and it was hard saying no. Ultimately, though, my decision stemmed from a few factors:

  1. User experience (UX) should be king, and I’m skeptical about the quality of UX in an agency model.
    I believe that larger companies that recognize the importance of their user experience (and can afford it) are bringing these services in-house. Yes, there will always be room for agencies, but it’s easy for a hired agency to say “yes” to appease their paying client, even if the work suffers. Furthermore, UX isn’t some print piece that is finite and delivered, it’s a process that needs constant monitoring and refinement. From a cost point-of-view, it makes sense for large companies to internalize this process.
  2. Central Pennsylvania is very .NET oriented, and I’d prefer to be doing JavaScript.
    There seems to be tons of .NET developer jobs in my home market, and I’d attribute it to the slower-moving state government and healthcare markets. There’s certainly nothing wrong with .NET, but personally, I’ve always leaned towards open source, and believe NodeJS and JavaScript frameworks (React, Vue) are the future. Sadly, there’s not much of that going on in Central PA, hence my need to look out-of-market.
  3. Today’s web designers don’t code.
    I’ve always felt design and code go hand-in-hand. It’s part of why I believe I was never pigeonholed into a full-time position somewhere. With the emergence of Wix, Squarespace, and off-the-shelf WordPress themes, though, today’s web designer doesn’t need to code. I look around at peers and competitors that are “winning” design awards with the same cookie-cutter template with a different logo and a color palette swap, and it’s just not what I want to do.

    I do believe it’s great that web publishing has been democratized, but I’m getting approached more often by clients that need their sites “fixed”. They outgrow their template or discover that it doesn’t really suit their needs, and then need someone like me to retrofit features. I like helping clients, but this is not necessarily my passion.

  4. Web design is dying.
    With the emergence of site templates comes reusable layouts with similar grid structures and underpinnings. It’s easy to spot a Squarespace hero where a photo spans the entire top of a page and is accompanied by a ghost button. Bootstrap’s 12-column grid is practically ubiquitous. It all makes for a rather drab browsing experience. Technical limitations clearly played a factor. When Flash went away, we were left waiting for browsers to properly and consistently support new features in CSS3 and JavaScript. Carousels and parallax effects provided that splash of animation in the interim. Fortunately, that’s all starting to evolve. In all seriousness, design isn’t dead; it’s cyclical, and the web is prime for a renaissance.

Can someone that’s been out on their own for so long return to an office job? I guess I’ll find out. I won’t be shuttering my company, but I’ve been recognizing this shift in my industry and am looking forward to focusing on a dedicated product.


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About Rich Hauck

Rich Hauck

I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and three boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.