Job: Web developer for World Online in Lawrence, Kansas

Written by Adrian Holovaty on June 29, 2004

Alas, my friend and co-worker Simon Willison will be completing his year-long job placement and leaving our company in a few months to go back to school in England. We at World Online are officially looking for a Web programmer/developer to fill his position -- as soon as possible. (UPDATE, August 2004: We've filled the position. We're no longer accepting applications. Thanks to all applicants for their interest.)

About the company

World Online is the Web division of the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper in Lawrence, Kan. It's one of the most innovative online-news operations in the world. Our main sites are (news), (entertainment) and (sports). All three have garnered an impressive batch of industry awards -- and tremendous industry attention -- over the past few years.

If you're in the online media field, or trying to get into it, this is the place to be for innovation.

From a Web-development perspective, we strive for innovation, nimble development and the use of best practices. We have a near-religious focus on doing things the right way -- clean URLs, CSS, separation of content from presentation, accessibility, solid application design, etc.

From a content perspective, we pride ourselves on being hyper-local, converged across multiple media (TV, newspaper, Web) and focused on overkill. This is the type of place that doesn't just cover little-league baseball games with a story or two in the Sunday paper; it devotes an entire print publication and Web site to it, with cell-phone updates, weblogs and intensive team/league/field databases.

This is the type of newspaper that, unlike 90 percent of American newspapers, places less of a value on profit and much more of a value on the role of news in community. It is privately owned by an incredibly kind family who will probably know your name and say hello to you in the halls. The person in charge of the Web operation is Rob Curley, a visionary who will constantly challenge you, energize you and surprise you. And probably make fun of you, sometimes.

Please see the testimonials page of the upcoming online-journalism conference we're holding for more about our operation. Also check out Digital Journalist's article about us and's recent write-up about our conference.

About the town

Lawrence is great. To get an fair idea of it, take every negative stereotype about Kansas and reverse it. It's a midwestern college town with a nationally-renowned music scene and a thriving downtown that has put a mall out of business. It's close to Kansas City, too. See our own or (which we developed as a commercial project over the past few months) for more.

About the position

Our Web-news operation relies heavily on custom development; pretty much everything is built in-house. The small-but-nimble development team handles everything technical for our network of sites. We're the people our newsroom comes to for implementing special features and workflow optimizations, and we're the people the online boss (Rob) comes to for building the frameworks for new sites and subsites.

We're looking for an expert Web programmer to join that development team. This person will work closely with me, the senior developer, to develop Web applications for internal and external use.

You are an excellent fit for this position if:

  • You have significant experience building Web publishing systems/tools and managing dynamic Web sites.
  • You have significant experience designing, maintaining and programming Web interfaces to databases.
  • You have experience maintaining Linux servers -- preferably those of a Red-Hat-ish flavor.
  • You learn new technologies quickly.
  • You strongly value Web standards and other best-practice Web-development methodologies.
  • You're full of innovative ideas and eager to implement them as soon as possible.

Experience with news and/or information sites is ideal but inessential.

We're open-source advocates. Our development platform is Python (mod_python) and PostgreSQL, so we will give preference to applicants who are experienced in those technologies. But we believe a solid background in, and understanding of, Web application design is more important than skill in a particular language or platform. So don't hesitate to apply if your Python skills aren't sharp but you think you could pick it up quickly.

How to get in touch

If you're interested and have some serious Web-development chops, e-mail me and Simon directly. I'm at aholovaty [at] ljworld [dot] com. Simon is at swillison [at] ljworld [dot] com. If you're just thinking about it, post a comment here with questions.

See also: Simon's blog entry on the topic.

The only bad thing

In the interests of fairness and honesty, I should mention this: There is one bad thing about working for World Online. After working here, you won't want to leave.


Posted by Chris on June 29, 2004, at 6:26 p.m.:

Well events have conspired against me recently which makes this position sound very tempting. Unfortunately I'd probably bump into your old co-worker in the airport - since I live in the UK and all.

I also don't have any experience with python, and very little with Linux, but I do have quite a bit with XHTML, CSS, Photoshop, Accessibility, ASP, VB, Lotus Domino, and a little PHP.

Maybe you could give me a low paid job, just so I can get out of this crummy place, and leave my troubles behind?

Well it sounds a fantastic opportunity.

Posted by Isofarro on July 2, 2004, at 11:32 a.m.:

Open to people in the UK?

Posted by Adrian on July 2, 2004, at 6:40 p.m.:

Isofarro: Yes, in theory. But I believe the U.S. government has reached its quota for visas until October (?), and we'd prefer to have someone right away, so it's unlikely.

Posted by Isofarro on July 5, 2004, at 12:11 p.m.:

That's probably good news about the quota limit on visas. For some odd reason I'm always finding myself one step behind Simon Willison ;-)

Good luck!

Posted by Chris W on August 11, 2004, at 9:26 a.m.:

I'm interested in the job, however my skill level as a web developer is right at entry level. I know enough HTML to create a web page. Can read and understand CSS. I am knowledgable with Visual Basic and am about to start with VS.NET. Sadly most of my experience is in COBOL :P. So that is why I'm posting because I am not so sure I'd even be a great fit but I thought what the can't hurt to ask anyway.

In need of a QA tester? THERE I have tons of experience!

Would not mind moving from NC to KS (I have a friend who lives in Lawrence).

email is cwatkin(at)att(dot)net

Posted by Adrian on August 11, 2004, at 5:07 p.m.:

We've filled the position.

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