Learning the Google!
There are times, though rare, when we occasionally don't have much in the way of client work to do. When this happens, it is still important to be productive. We can do that by catching up on where things are going in the industry, like learning the latest techniques in User Experience, Accessibility, Programming languages, etc.
There is also the service aspect side of working with clients. We need to keep up with the technologies that they are using for their web and app products and services. It is our job as website and app developers to be sure that we are at the very least acquainted with the various platforms that our clients may use to advertise and analyze their site traffic, app usage, and advertising campaigns.
Over the last few months I've taken the opportunity to research a variety of Google products and have received certifications for those products. The process of learning this information has provided me with a better understanding of how these Google products work and interact with each other. For instance by using Google Tag Manager in combination with Google Analytics and Google Ads, I now know how to read the information I see in various Google Analytics reports.
From my own personal standpoint, much of this information doesn't mean all that much to me. But from a marketing perspective I can now see why it may have significance to how a business may interpret that information and make marketing decisions based on it.
More importantly, however, the knowledge I now have can be useful in explaining to a client how these systems work together, and why they should consider learning more about these platforms (or similar non-Google products) themselves.
Our jobs as web developers are not to be marketing professionals for our clients, however we need to be familiar with how online marketing tools work so that we can help our clients navigate the complexities of these tools. Google has done a considerable amount of heavy lifting on the programming end of things to help marketing professionals use their tools and be able to analyze the results. As easy as these tools are to use from a web professional's standpoint, some of the technology can be intimidating to the marketing professional.
I'm not saying that this information was easy to learn. There was a lot of marketing speak that I had to wade through and learn about for me to understand what I was seeing and how to make the numbers do what I was expecting. For those who understand marketing and statistics, learning about the various Google Product tools will lead to some fascinating insights into the data that Google collects. For a company's marketing department learning how to use these tools will definitely be worth the time.
Google has designed these tools to "make your process easier" and the tools are free. There are enterprise level versions of these tools that come at a cost, but those are targeting larger scale businesses.
As a web developer I would recommend becoming specifically familiar with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics as these tools are most closely connected to a company's web presence. Learning about Google Ads and Google Marketing Platform can help with conversations with our clients' marketing professionals.
To the businesses out there that are considering online advertising, an understanding of Google Analytics and Google Ads would be my recommendation. If you understand Google Ads, you will likely see similar processes and tools with other advertising platforms.
While the material being studied and created is quite dry for those who may not be enthusiastic about statistics, Google's development team have definitely worked through these interfaces to provide a really good User Experience.
You can get started on learning about Google's products in their Skillshop. Once you connect to your Google account you can access a wide variety of topics related to Google's tools. The Skillshop will also allow you to create your own education plan. As you make your way through the courses, Google offers certifications that are valid for a year. The certifications are limited since Google is continually updating their products and information can fall out of date. But as I said, we have to keep up with the technology that is being used, so re-certification in a year just means I can be a helpful resource to our clients.