Opinions on Web Worker Terminology

I’ve seen a lot of chatter around the web as of late pertaining to web designers who don’t write any code. No HTML, no CSS. I’ve also noticed a lot of folks using the term “front end developer”, meaning that they basically don’t write PHP, but do some JavaScript and mostly HTML/CSS stuff.

I’d like to propose the following terms for reality, clarity and attributing proper specifics to what everyone’s role is when it comes to building the Internet

Web Designer
Both designs and builds websites. They differ from Graphic Designers in that their primary medium is the web vs. print graphics creation. They can comfortably write their own HTML and CSS.

If you’re just designing websites, and not writing any actual code, you aren’t a Web Designer, you’re a Graphic Designer. I would further argue that designing for a medium you aren’t comfortable creating is dangerous and problematic for developers who understand the restraints applicable to the web and across various browsers and devices. It also means you’re likely creating additional costs for the end client because you’re not thinking like the web, you’re thinking like Photoshop. Just like a Graphic Designer must understand how a printing press differs from a digital printer, knowledge of the final medium’s capabilities when it comes to the web is essential.

Web Developer
Can write code from scratch in languages like ASP, PHP and JavaScript. Likely familiar with HTML and CSS as well, but the difference here is that they are often more involved in how something works rather than why it works that way.

Of course, many developers are also great designers and must make design choices while developing, most often with regards to how interfaces will be presented. Likewise, many designers are able to write their own PHP or modify examples around the web to fit their needs.

Front End Developers
I argue there is no such thing, or at least these folks are rare. Front End implies that you’re working with the user end of the spectrum (ie, user experiences via the browser vs. backend work involving server side code). In other words, you’re doing part of a Web Designer’s job. The only situation I can clearly see this applying to are people who turn designs they didn’t create into HTML/CSS templates. Like the folks at PSD2HTML do.

I’m not trying to get all terminology nazi here, it just strikes me that positions should have clear definitions. The web is complicated enough for the average client to understand without us muddying the waters with glorified titles.

Of course, these are my own opinions and you can call yourself whatever you’d like. I suggest Henry, it has a sort of kingly ring to it.


Web Architect and Internet Philosopher

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