Web sites are like iceburgs: what you see only represents 10% of the actual work. And the majority of the work looks more like internal business application development in an IT department for a non-computer software related company–which it is: the 90% includes things like fulfillment, customer service, complaint tracking and auditing.
Which is why working at a place like Yahoo!, aside from the whole ‘college dorm’ feel of the place, is really no different than working for Wells Fargo or General Electric or Disney’s IT group. The work is essentially the same.
And it’s why so many developers are excited about AJAX: it represents the ability to do desktop development within the context of a web site. That is, it represents the ability to do something more meaningful with a web site than the sort of development you’d see in an IT shop like Wells Fargo–even though by and large, most web sites do not need to be “AJAXified.”