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Job Titles in the Web Industry

Published by Chris Coyier

There are loads of job titles in our industry. The opinion on their usefulness range from harmful (i.e. leads to “not my job” syndrome) to vital (i.e. people change companies sometimes and need common language). Since they are out there and we use them, there should be some consistency to their definition. Perhaps we can get closer to nailing that down.

Let's light this fire, shall we? This is all debatable, of course.

Job Titles

These are legit in my opinion.

Web Designer

If "designer" is in the title, the job is designing. Literally deciding and implementing how websites look and work. "Web" is in the title because the job is specifically focused on the web. Specific skills would be design-tools-of-choice, HTML, CSS, and light JavaScript.

If the job is also designing for print, apps, signage, products, clothing, etc., the title would be widened to Designer.

Front End Developer

This job is focused on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and light backend work. Not design. The lack of "designer" in the title is intentional. Because the job doesn't require design, deeper skill in the other technologies is implied. You likely have a grasp on some concepts beyond the core technologies, for instance regression testing or performance.

A synonym might be Front End Engineer. I tend to think of that as a requiring a deeper and more specific skillset, possibly with more narrow focus or at a higher level.

Technology specific job titles may be also be appropriate here, like "JavaScript Developer" or "JavaScript Engineer" for a job where that is primarily what needs to be done. Although, none of the front end technologies live in a bubble so I generally prefer Front End Developer.

UI Designer

This job is more about designing and less about implementation. Really good at design-tools-of-choice with perhaps only light HTML and CSS skill. A synonym might be a Visual Designer.

UX Designer

A specific focus on studying and researching how people use a site. Then ushering changes for the better through the system and testing the results. May not have or need any design or implementation skill. All jobs should care about user experience, but this job lives it.

Interaction Designer

Primarily design, just like a UI Designer, but with specific focus on how things are used and movement.

Art Director

The job is quality control, leadership of other designers, and client communication. A synonym could be Design Director.

Web Developer

This job is focused on back end work and working with languages specific to the web, like PHP, ASP, Ruby, Python, etc. Medium skill in database/server work, medium skill in JavaScript, light skill in HTML. This is very different from a Front End Developer as there is little working with the design and heavier on programming concepts and concerns, like security and structure.

Synonyms could be Web Programmer or Web Application Developer.

Full Stack Developer

This job is a combination of front and back end work. Seriously though, not mostly one and a little of the other. Good crossover people are needed at organizations and this is a high end job.

Content Strategist

Rather than working directly on implementation, this job is about the structural design of websites. Things like the taxonomies, metadata, scheduling, and analysis of content. A synonym might be Information Architect. They might work with people who work with content in a more general way like a Writer, Copywriter, or Editor.

IT Technician

This job works with the actual computers and tech equipment. A hardware person.

Dev Ops

The job bridges the gap between IT and Developers. They handle things like server software, version control, deployment, build processes, and testing servers/processes. I wish this had a more job-title-y feeling to it. As it stands it sounds like what you would call the whole team of people with this job.

Product Manager

This job is about guiding the site as a whole (or a major feature of the site) toward a better future. Largely dealing with people and planning. A Project Manager would be similar but smaller in scope and possibly a temporary role rather than full job title.

Customer Service Representative

This job is about communicating directly with users of the site to provide help. Then triaging bugs/problems to the internal team. Also understanding/communicating the voice and vibe of the community around the site.

SEO Specialist

This is a big enough sub industry that it can be its own job.

Job Title Prefixes

Any of these job titles can be prefixed with Junior or Senior. Junior meaning less skill/experience. Senior or Lead meaning more skill/experience. Responsibility and pay commensurate. The tech is the same.

Consultant might be suffix to any of these job titles as well, like a Front End Development Consultant, in which you offer strategic advice and help.

Bad Job Titles

The following are not job titles.

  • Ninja _______ - Cutesy and meaningless. It's a recruiter trying to say "we want someone really good" but then shooting themselves in the foot.
  • Rockstar _______ - Same.
  • Web Master / Webmaster - It feels outdated and cheesy, but more importantly, never developed any specific meaning.
  • _______ Hacker - Cheesy for anything with the possible exception of a job with the specific responsibility of finding security exploits.
  • I kind of like Web Worker as a term, but not as a job title (too vague).
  • Mobile _______ - Even if the job has that focus it feels overly specific.

Not Caring About Titles

Like I said in the intro, the opinion on job titles is hugely variant. Right in the middle is not caring at all. If that's you, awesome! That probably means you work for yourself or for some little startup where your title can be like "Lead Hucklebucker" or some other nonsense. That's just good fun, live it up!

Not Web

Careful with these if the job is actually web related.

  • Graphic Designer - This has come to mean "design, but not web design."
  • Software Engineer / Programmer - This has come to mean "programming, but not for the web."

Conversation

Did I miss any important ones? Surely there is very specific job titles that are legit. That's fine because they are specific. It's the big general ones that we need to be concerned about. Did I get any wrong? Have you ever changed jobs and found it problematic? How does your organization handle it?

Comments

  1. Rob
    Permalink to comment#

    I work for a small company and handle quite a variety of tasks so none of these ‘fit’. I design our website projects, take them to code (all the HTML, CSS and JS) and handle whatever backend structure is required. On top of all of that I also handle a variety of print-related design.

    My title used to be “Head of Website Design and Development” but I found that when interacting with our print customers with that title in my e-mails their attitude toward the design would change. So my boss and I talked and I went to “Lead Designer” which somehow made the website customers stop taking my recommendations seriously.

    Ultimately I’ve went with an absolutely vague and terrible title: “Creative Professional”. It makes me cringe to read it; but since switching to it I’ve found that I can communicate with all our our clientele without the weird “We don’t take you seriously because we don’t think this is your job” attitude.

    • Michelle
      Permalink to comment#

      Same here. I technically am a Graphic Designer for print and web, Web Designer, Front and Back End Developer (html, css, js, php, and more), UX design, and recently SEO as well. I even sometimes do copywriting and content management / editing.

      My official title is “Graphic and Web Designer” even though at least 20% of my job is development and coding.

      I guess the best title would be “Graphic Designer, Web Designer/Developer, and Junior Content Strategist, with SEO Experience” but that’s not gonna fit on my business card.

      “Graphic and Web Designer and Developer” would probably be my ideal simplified title.

    • Kyrodes
      Permalink to comment#

      Rob: Why not just “Design and Development Leader”? I think that it could fit well with your print and web customers.

      Michelle: Why you need to be so specific? You don’t need to differentiate between Graphic and Web if you do both. Why not “Designer and Developer”?

    • And you’re exactly the kind of web professional I need but I have no idea how to find you because I don’t know what to call you!

    • T. White
      Permalink to comment#

      I’ve usually been called “The Intern” or “The Lacky” until I get promoted or people learn my name. Then my job has always, Always turned into “T, could you…”
      Now I’m going from the print production side of a Newspaper to coming up with, designing, building, implementing and otherwise handling our digital presence. The publisher and I have yet to figure out what it should be called.

    • Knika Salcedo
      Permalink to comment#

      Hi Rob,
      I can totally relate. My job title at my previous work (12 & 1/2 years) was Web Developer. My daily tasks varied from posting news releases, sending out internal newsletters (and such), running web metrics as per request, updating web content, creating simple banners; cropping images. I even created small team sites in Sharepoint. It was more like an overall maintenance ‘job’. So now that I am in search of new, I’m confused which title I should put on my résume. At the moment I am using Web Designer. My skills are focused on HTML, CSS and intermediate JS. Hopefully I’ll find a more suitable title for what I do. Thanks for posting!

    • @Knika Salcedo, I feel your confusion. I do.

      The problem I see with using only ‘Web Designer’ is that it means too little for companies, so in order for your resumé to look ‘interesting’ you have to jack-up your title with extra fluff.

      A few years back a ‘Web Designer’ did all the things you did, plus he designed and implemented his designs (HTML & CSS). Today, someone that does all that has to add to his title the term ‘Front End Developer’. This also means that you automatically inherit the knowledge of being able to program in JavaScript, and not just a few jQuery functions, no, hard-core JavaScript. And that’s a problem because we don’t know JavaScript off-the-bat, we know some jQuery scripting, that’s it. What happens with JavaScript is that is a programing language that runs in the ‘front end’ (the browser).

      Then because you have the term “Developer” in there now, recruiters and companies now think that you somehow also know .NET, Java, PHP, Python, JSON, Perl, Server and Network Security, Objective C, yada, yada, yada.

      And because you have the term “Designer” as well, you automatically are a “UX Designer” (which by the way, UX Designers don’t exist because the term is flawed, but that’s another conversation) and are capable of creating the most amazing wireframes the world could see. Uh?

      So now you start getting/finding job offers for titles like: UX Developer (WTF is that?), UI Developer, UX Designer (an ‘expert’ at wireframing… o_O), Front End Designer and yeah, Web Developer.

      As you can see there is no “Web Designer” in that list and that’s because the web industry has mutated this title into the ones I just mentioned (and there are worse titles, just read the replies here, you’ll find plenty, :]) making you (us) cram our titles with a bunch of unnecessary crap.

      Keep in mind that a Web Designer is more a designer that develops rather than a web developer that sometimes designs. A Web Designer’s strength is design. Anything extra technical knowledge only helps adding the term Front End Developer to the title, but that’s secondary. You can, however, become good a both.

      I think Front End Developer reflects better your past experience.

  2. Ati Bang Oh
    Permalink to comment#

    and what about the title “sitebuilder”?

    • Cory RS
      Permalink to comment#

      I think that’s bad for the same reason that “webmaster” shouldn’t be used.

  3. I’ve been thinking about job titles quite a bit (doing some hiring/ business expansion) and have spent a solid amount of time stuck on the junior/ senior/ lead piece. I’ve also considered terms like assistant/ associate and have actually gone in the direction of “associate” instead of “junior” because I feel like junior is a bit patronizing. But then I’m also fairly certain I’ve over-thought all this quite a bit :)

    At any rate, interesting breakdown and I agree with the bulk of how you’ve defined the roles.

    • Rob
      Permalink to comment#

      I don’t think you’re over-thinking it at all! I agree; titles like “Junior” seem a bit patronizing. I always imagine a ‘Junior’ position to be working very closely with their ‘superior’ counterpart in some sort of education-on-the-fly interaction and it’s rarely the case. Junior usually just means a lower pay grade with the same basic responsibilities.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I was asked not to use the term ‘junior’ for a job ad or subsequent title. I work in the UK and the inference to me was that it may be illegal. Not entirely sure, but we replaced with ‘Trainee’ for ad and job title and all went well. One other thing to bear in mind is age discrimination, one could still be a ‘Trainee’ at any age, but the use of the word ‘Junior’ could be construed as being exclusive to a certain age group.

    • I don’t think “Junior” is a bad term, but I wish more companies actually meant it. In many job postings, “Junior” actually means “2 years of experience”, which in the web game might actually make you an excellent and fully qualified developer, depending on what you’ve learned and how quickly. Fortunately, in many cases, these postings are just wish lists, and companies are willing to hire below the stated requirements, but it is still misleading, and can be very disheartening for truly junior people trying to break into the industry after school or after some self-education (there are lots of people in this situation).

    • Jan
      Permalink to comment#

      I am okay with Junior and Senior as terms- here in America, it connotates levels of schooling (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior) in both high school and college levels. I spent the first 6 years out of college in a totally different field, so I’m aware that my level of self-taught knowledge is still at a junior level.

      On a related note- I recently went through 6 months of aggressive job hunting, and tried out all sorts of job titles to describe what I did and wanted to be doing. “Junior Web Developer” was the one that finally landed me a position. (I’d tried: Web Designer, Webmaster, Web Design & Development, etc.) I am still getting calls from recruiters for UI/UX positions, even though I don’t have any specific descriptions of those positions on my resume.

    • Ajay
      Permalink to comment#

      i am software engineer in private company ,i got an opportunity in graphics design in mnc whether it is good job or not …..can any one suggest me????

  4. So that makes me a front-end developer. :) I like the bad job titles section the most :D

  5. I did always wonder where to position my skill set as it never really seemed to sit anywhere with the “traditional job titles. Web designer? Developer? UI?

    Full Stack Developer is perfect. Now I’ve just got to got to hope potential employers/clients understand the term.

  6. I had a chat with a recruiter a few hours ago; he recently noticed an apparition of hybrid roles such as Front End Developer / UX Designer on the market. This man http://www.adhamdannaway.com/ is also a good example of what I am talking about.

    Some people argue that too much diversification is not really good, because there is a lost of focus on the main strenght. However I strongly believe that some combination are natural and are a serious advantage (eg; Front End + UX). After all it’s all about expanding knowledge. What’s your opinion about those hybrid roles?

    • Valerie
      Permalink to comment#

      Hybrid roles of design+frontend work for small projects, on large projects implementing UI will require solid grasp of backend technologies and good familiarity with codebase, so the shift will rather be towards full stack.

  7. Jordan
    Permalink to comment#

    I feel like I see interactive creative director or in a more traditional agency just creative director.

  8. Permalink to comment#

    I just blogged about something similar :P

    Great article! I think you might be missing one that is common in a lot of high end jobs: Software Engineer. I wrote an article recently about the difference between a developer and an engineer- http://bit.ly/16Jb7ko

    • Permalink to comment#

      I just saw your last note about Software Engineer not relating to the web– that’s not true! It might sound more like a C++ position (or something similar) but if you look at job postings for companies like Facebook or some high end agencies they describe their full stack or backend developers as software engineers.

      Some even consider the front end in that description- but it seems to normally be tied to backend. A lot of them might also use the term “front end engineer” vs “front end developer”.

    • Ian
      Permalink to comment#

      In those cases, they may be referring to those position that way because the project they’d be focused on are more ‘app-like’ than a traditional website. In the case of Facebook, a UX designer working for them might be working on a web project, but also assisting on an Android app. Because of that, they might change the description/title to reflect the higher level of sophisticated knowledge required for the position.

  9. And what became the “Webmaster”? :) for example, people like me building/monitoring static html websites or with a CMS. I had a discuss on it last year with a dev:

    http://tristandenyer.com/redefining-web-designers-web-developers-and-web-hybrids-for-the-modern-market/#comment-436

    I think we should make the term “Web Hybrid” popular ! for all the people like me :) it should be a title.

    • Kyrodes
      Permalink to comment#

      It’s like a evolutionary process. Webmasters became specialists and evolved to these many job titles. You are basically a Front-end Developer. I think Web Hybrid is a horrible title. This don’t mean anything. Maybe it’s worst than Webmaster. As a Front-end, you can learn back-end technologies too, but you will be simply a front-end/back-end developer.

    • Rakel
      Permalink to comment#

      To me, webmasters deal more with Website Content and Website Maintenance. If you have someone who knows basic HTML, they can work within content management systems or flat file websites to make website content updates, or work on populating a website initially. To me, this is a lower paid position because it’s not very specialized and anyone can learn basic HTML formatting…but it’s still work that needs to be done. They wouldn’t be responsible for creating the pages — just keeping them updated.

    • Rakel
      Permalink to comment#

      To add to my previous comment… I say that it’s a lower paid position because typically a Front End or Back End Developer would have more tasks that utilize their expertise than to mess around with basic stuff like that. However, if you are working at a small company then you have to wear multiple hats and may find yourself doing that job.

    • David Blair
      Permalink to comment#

      “Web Chimera”, Mathias.

  10. I was about print out a business card with the title “Web Ninja Full-time”. Now there is a reason not to :-D

  11. Chris fort
    Permalink to comment#

    Why do you hate test engineers :`(

    • QA is definitely a legit job. What is the most common/most accurate job title for that? I’ve never heard “test engineer”. I think QA is more common. But QA _______?

    • Chris Fort
      Permalink to comment#

      My title is “Software Test Engineer.” I primarily write test automation code using Selenium (for both front and backend). I also do some minor front-end dev work, but mostly touch ups and CSS fixes. Related titles I hear are QA Engineer, and Software Engineer in Test (for developers who just write test automation).

    • Permalink to comment#

      Much like Chris Fort, my title is Software Test Engineer.

      When I did primarily manual testing I was either a “Quality Assurance Analyst” or a “Quality Assurance Engineer.”

    • Permalink to comment#

      I’ve seen QA Analyst used quite a bit.

  12. Alf
    Permalink to comment#

    Am I the only one here that realized the list in Bad Job titles looks like a -______-

  13. Bari
    Permalink to comment#

    Great post!

    What about UI/UX Developer?

  14. Web Ring Enthusiast?

  15. Matt W.
    Permalink to comment#

    At the company for which I work, “Web Developer” means “Front End Developer” and “Software Developer” means “Web Developer.” I do think the suggestions above make more sense. Of the two, “Software Developer” is much more misleading for the actual job requirements; not surprisingly, in the past there have been quite a few people in those roles who understand back-end development but not the web. And while it may sound petty, if I see an open position titled something like “JavaScript Ninja” or “Kick-Ass Ruby Programmer,” I immediately assume that the overall work experience would be, for lack of a better word, disappointing.

    • I never associated “Web Developer” with “Back End” — I always thought of it as a more general term for Front and/or Back End Developer. Possible alternate terms: Server-Side Developer, Back End Developer, or a more technologically specific term: Java Developer, Python Developer, Ruby Developer, .NET Developer, etc.

      One thing missing here is the various Database Administration jobs. Also, QA!!!

  16. Permalink to comment#

    I think terms like “Front End Developer” are limiting and harmful. If you want some software written properly you need a Software Engineer. If you want to write good code you need a Software Engineering mindset. If you are writing good JavaScript code for a website you are building up Software Engineering skills that can easily be transferred to other languages and other domains.

    Can you guess what term I prefer ;)

    • Kyrodes
      Permalink to comment#

      I don’t know Software Engineers that write good HTML/CSS

  17. Dan Jones
    Permalink to comment#

    My job title is “Back-end Web Developer” which you’ve called “Web Developer” here. The distinction is important, since there is a “Front-end Web Developer” here as well.

  18. Hugo Fonseca
    Permalink to comment#

    What about Quality Assurance?
    A person which makes sure that everything is working as excepted, code analysis, code review, a person that has deep knowledge of how do things in such way that it can be tested … ?

  19. Great article. Thank you! Others I’ve seen that often require a subset of web skills:

    Content Manager
    Web Manager
    Web Strategist
    Digital Media _ _ _ _ _ _
    Director of Communications

  20. I work for a large organization and in order to keep salary bands and divisions and departments and blah blah blah all in line, there are a number of job titles that are fairly generic. I would imagine this could be true for many larger organizations that have their own in-house IT shops.

    For example, my official job title as far as the organization is concerned is Application Engineer. In my department, we go by Web Designers, and a group of us are Senior Web Designers holding a few more responsibilities or expertise.

    I would say Front End Developer suits my skills and responsibilities a little better, but I don’t see much of a need at this point to make a deal out of that.

    The one thing that I do see as a potential problem is when the organization decides to hire new employees, and in the job ad they use Application Engineer. However, anyone actually doing their homework while searching for a job will read the full job description to see that, yes, this job actually requires skills with HTML, CSS, Javascript as apposed to Java, Ruby, or Python.

    Sometimes silly things, these labels, but sometimes very useful.

  21. Your breakdown assumes that designers know a some code; in the agencies I’ve worked at the designers call themselves “Creatives” and only a handful do any code at all, so it’s up to the front end developers to bridge that gap.

    You’ve got terms for “Design and a bit of frontend” and for “Front end and a bit of backend” but what would you call “Front end and a bit of design”?

    • If the job is no design at all, then UI Designer or Visual Designer works.

      I think the final question is interesting as it’s a pretty common role (myself included). It might be solved by considering what to call hybrid jobs at all. Surely there are Design Directors who code (and the like). Perhaps you just get both titles.

    • Permalink to comment#

      In the UK the title ‘Hybrid Web Designer/Front End Developer’ gets used increasing more.

    • I wonder about these hybrid job titles myself. I have, so far, only worked at small companies and end up playing lots of different roles. Currently my title is UX Designer, but I end up doing Visual Design, HTML/CSS/JS, and some PHP. No idea what to actually put when I look to explain my role at the company.

    • I fall under this category and I am currently going with “Front-End Designer & Developer.”

      I don’t live in Photoshop, but I frequent it. I slice PSDs, as well as code from scratch in the browser.

      So I can “talk and/or walk” design, but I spend most of my time with front-end technologies in the command line, text editor and browser.

    • Jan
      Permalink to comment#

      I like “Front-End Designer & Developer” for myself. I am currently working in Front End Development only, but have worked in Design and want to find a hybrid that uses both.

    • Tran Kuang Thien
      Permalink to comment#

      @dangovan @Chris Coyier

      Hi, I call Front end and a bit of design as “UI Developer“.

      That means working mainly on

      85% HTML/CSS/JS

      10% Design (just implement the master design from Wev Designer)

      5% Web App Developement (ensure the cohere of HTML Architecture of whole site, have ability of communicate with Web Developer)

  22. I find your point on the ‘Software Engineer’ title interesting. As the web projects we build become more and more like true pieces of software, do you see the ‘software engineer’ title working for us at some point? I think that both words do apply to what many ‘Web Developers’ actually do.

  23. Maurice Cherry
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m forwarding this to every tech recruiter I know.

    • Marc Ferguson
      Permalink to comment#

      Is this a bot!? O.o I’ve seen this response before…

  24. Ian
    Permalink to comment#

    lol @ ninja and rockstar. Anyone actually put that on a resume or job application? Seems like I actually heard of someone looking to hire a ninja once.

    Thanks for the list. Didn’t know a couple of those.

    • I’ve seen job placements which use the words “ninja” and “rockstar.” Now that I think of it, I’ve normally seen those terms with job listings from a tech recruiter.

    • I have never used these terms, but have also seem it used in a number of job ads from recruiters.

  25. Permalink to comment#

    Recruiters need to use this as a cheat sheet. It could save so many people so much wasted time!

    How about us email specialists? I know we use ugly, backwards code, but we’re the web designers of the email world. At the moment I think my title is Email Specialist or CRM Email Specialist depending on the work I’m working on really!

  26. Permalink to comment#

    You forgot unicorn.

    • Erica
      Permalink to comment#

      Aw c’mon! I am a recruiter and I use the term unicorn, but with tongue firmly in cheek.

      Specifically I use the term to describe the mythical creature who can both:

      • design for web using Photoshop, HTML/CSS, from concept to completion
      • execute beautiful/intuitive UI
      • be cognizant of and implement thoughtful UX
      • do all of the above using standards-based/industry-standard acumen for usability and accessibility.

      AND

      • ability to build out the site using a CMS (like WP or SquareSpace – or unrealistically: Drupal/Joomla/Expression Engine/Concrete5)
      • exercise command of PHP, jQuery, Javascript

      We have folks on the design side with some front-end dev skills and I call them front-end designer/developers. It’s rare to find DEPTH of skill in any of those areas unless the candidate is TRULY talented in all aspects. Those pros are practically mythical. They exist but are treasured by those who employ them.

      I will refrain from using ninja, rockstar or unicorn in any future recruiting. But if you know any of those folks in Milwaukee, sent them my way.

    • Erica,

      Folks on the design side with front end Dev skills are called: Web Designers / Front End Developers.

      And this really isn’t so true: “They exist but are treasured by those who employ them.” Not necessarily, I speak from recent experience in the company I used to work at.

  27. Nice.

    I don’t like the way that someone can now be “an SEO”. It sounds silly to me. SEO specialist or consultant is much preferred.

  28. Permalink to comment#

    There should be a generic job title for those whose responsibility is design and development, almost in equal measure. Most smaller, bespoke agencies or startups have these people, often running under the banner of something like UX x but often with greater project responsibility and optionally also client liaison in almost a project or product manager role.

    With the growing emergence of designing in code these type of hybrid roles will take on even more importance, probably with a specialism towards one of tother but definitely still encompassing both disciplines.

  29. I work for myself, and I’ve omitted a job title on my business card entirely. The card consists of only basic contact information (email, website, twitter), along with my name.

    In lieu of a job title, I instead write on the card something like “I make websites.” or a short description relevant to the discussion I just had with the person. This lends a more personal feel to it and allows me to adapt my job description to their needs, which is important as a freelancer.

  30. Chris,
    What was your title at Wufoo again? That was a good descriptive one. :)

  31. Chris Bowes
    Permalink to comment#

    You missed out the further evolution of Front End Developer / Engineer, or at least that is how I see it – as a large part of a Front End role is assessing the best technologies to use for the target device and audience – the catchy and somewhat pretentious: Creative Technologist

    • Permalink to comment#

      “Creative Technologist” is my current title and I can’t say I’m a big fan. I’m the only front-end dev in my small production company and so a good chunk of my time is spent either in R&D or looking at ways to include interactive components into other mediums (installations, etc.). However, whenever I’m meeting with a client or vendor or somesuch and I introduce myself as a Creative Technologist the reaction is almost always a look of confusion and/or “so… what does that MEAN?”

  32. I like to use the title “creative front end developer” because I tackle design (graphic and ui) fairly often and have a decent eye for design. I started off as a “web designer” and naturally fell into front end dev.

    I wouldn’t want to design from scratch in my 9-5, but will happily run with a designer’s work and ask for their input on what I plan to do rather than say “give me the design and I’ll do it”.

    • Chris Bowes
      Permalink to comment#

      Likewise, started as a creative and migrated to pure front end development. It’s so much more challenging and enjoyable. Not to mention better paid. The thing I hated most about creative design is that everyone has an opinion on it. Everyone thinks they have an eye for design, but the only people who assess and feedback on your development abilities are your peers. PLus design trends are merely fashions, constantly recycling and evolving incrementally. With development the advances are faster and there is much more to learn than simply following or leading trends.

    • Everything Chris Bowes and you just said. I’ve tried front end developer, too, given my CSS mastery and love of JavaScript APIs. But people tend to think it synonymous with JavaScript developer, which I am definitely not.

  33. Permalink to comment#

    If I could have my way the only title I’d ever have at any job – regardless of focus or seniority – would be “Dance Captain.”

  34. Permalink to comment#

    I define myself as a ‘Graphic and Web Designer & Developer’. But I’m not happy with it as it should say Front-End Web Developer and not just developer, but I felt that it was already too long.

    ‘Web Designer’ wouldn’t work as I actually do some print work so the correct would be Graphic Designer (I don’t like Visual, it feels wrong), but usually that implies no Web, and I do more web than print, and that leaves out the frontend development bit also.

    I’ll have to stick to the extra long title. That, or just use sometingh like ‘I make websites and stuff like that’.

    • I’m in the same boat….I just settle with “Creative Designer and Front-end Developer”, but it still doesn’t feel right.

  35. My current job title is Web Specialist, working for a university library. The bulk of the work is full-stack, with a heavy amount of design, and requires the ability to pick up whatever else comes along (UX design, information architecture, and occasionally IT tech).
    I’ve begun using the title for my freelancing as well.

    I think this title fits well for anyone who does a wide variety of web-based work.

  36. Permalink to comment#

    What about “Web Analyst” ?

  37. Kell
    Permalink to comment#

    The term “engineer” implies an engineering degree (and is protected in Texas). If you learned Java by yourself, you can call yourself a “software developer” or “programmer”, but not a “software engineer”.

    More information about “software engineer” titles in Texas

  38. This is hard for me, as I generally straddle design, interaction, and the code needed to make said designs work the way I feel they should. But I’m no designer. Creating a site’s look and feel from scratch is not for me (unless we’re talking about a site that is a huge interaction). I have great ideas about how an interface can work, and I have the chops to get 60fps out of it when I go to code. I don’t know what to call me. I’ve had colleagues say, “I don’t know what exactly you do, but it’s very cool.” I’ve had to describe my tools, workflow, and favorite parts of the process at interviews because they expect too little or too much if I call myself and interaction developer or a front ender.

    I just don’t know what to do with myself!

  39. remy
    Permalink to comment#

    One job title I like (the sound of): Software Designer. Because it’s like you can code, but it’s a creative task, even though you’re shit with crayons.

    As for me, for conferences where I’m asked for my title, I’m simply give them: “Da Boss” (obviously the boss of my company, a little else!)

  40. I am primarily a web developer but with years of experience in many fields such as system programming, network architecture, security, etc.

    One title I’ve found that sums up my capabilities is Internetworking Technology Specialist. The word Internetworking covers everything to do with connected devices, from the ones and zeros on a wire, through tcpip protocols, through how browsers implement such. Basically my job is pretty much Full Stack with extra benefits.

  41. A common question I get is “so, are you more a designer or developer?” To which I reply it’s a 50/50 split. It’s a shame people assume you can’t perform both functions equally.

    I’ve started signing off as a Dev-igner / Des-eloper. Unconventional and slightly confusing? Yup. The purpose is to spark a conversation in which I can explain exactly what I do. Tech job titles are so inept you wind up having to clarify anyway.

  42. I’m curious what title you would give someone like myself. I’ve been pondering this for sometime now.

    Currently, my title is Web Developer. This is a blanket term that applies to what I do, but my job duties are so much more than that. I build WordPress sites from the ground up including light design work, server configuration, back-end work, front-end work, SEO, content strategy, Inbound Marketing and more. I’m essentially a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to building websites.

    To me, however, I feel like this puts me at a disadvantage. I’m not an “expert” in any one area, but instead “pretty good” all around. I don’t think my title should be Web Developer. I’m not even sure any titles out there truly describe what I do.

    I mostly develop WordPress sites. I spend much more time on theme development than plugin development, so I suppose that makes me more of a Front-end Developer. The closest I have come to describing what I spend most of my time on is “Front-end WordPress Developer and Inbound Marketer.” Clearly that is too much – I need to conslidate!

    Thoughts Chris? Anyone else?

    • That’s exactly my situation. That’s why I like the title my company gave me, ‘Web Specialist’. I don’t think I’m an expert in a specific area of the web, but more the web as a whole. It often feels like a disadvantage, but I’ve started seeing it as an advantage instead. People like us can get it all done!

    • Brad Knutson
      Permalink to comment#

      In the past I’ve considered “Web Strategist” because it plays more into the Marketing aspects of my skills.

      Also I should clarify what I meant by feeling like I was at a disadvantage. I meant when it comes to titles, there really isn’t an easy answer. I completely agree that having a broad skill set is great, and there should absolutely be more people out there doing the same.

      I’ve actually found that my clients who hire me for Marketing are please with my development background, and my clients for Development are please with my marketing background. It’s a win-win.

  43. Crispen Smith
    Permalink to comment#

    Kudos to you for continuing to support the POST-PS era and not demanding that web designers think in photoshop.

  44. Chris Reed
    Permalink to comment#

    I have never understood why people say “some html skill”. Html takes about ten seconds to understand. It is supposed to be a data structure language.

    • I’d agree except I’ve seen too many very bright designers who wouldn’t be able to guess how content would reflow when you resize a browser, and too many ninja backend devs who think you can only style divs.

      It’s easy when you know how.

    • Chris Bowes
      Permalink to comment#

      Not sure I concur with that. Like CSS it is very easy to learn, but takes far longer to master and there remains a lot of ignorance out there.

    • Michelle
      Permalink to comment#

      I take “some html skill” to mean that you know enough html to style a forum post – bold, italic, underline, paragraphs, breaks, headings, and links. I have a coworker whose title is “Content Manager” and this is the extent of her HTML knowledge.

      If I saw a job listing with “HTML and CSS” as a requirement I’d think the position was asking for knowledge of the full scope of both.

      I’m not saying html is difficult to learn, just that people often don’t know something fully, even if it is easy to learn. There are people out there that “some html” applies to.

  45. Permalink to comment#

    Does the wall between UI Designer and Interaction Designer stand because of HTML/CSS know-how? Example: I’m a Visual Designer, but take movement and timing into account when sketching/brainstorming in larger groups. Curious if it’s a tech distinction.

  46. Permalink to comment#

    I do full-stack web development, but my title is “multimedia designer.” I work for a museum, not a web firm, so the people making up these titles probably don’t know the difference, or maybe the title’s just outdated.

    Do you think that title would hurt job searching in the future, or reflect poorly on my technical skills? I can demonstrate those through work samples or in an interview, but it’s not going to help if I’m immediately passed over because of that title.

    If it’s possibly problematic, is it worth trying to get it changed? Seems like it’d be a little awkward explaining that I’d like a more appropriate title just in case I want to do some job searching or want more internet street cred. But, if it worked out and I got new business cards, I could put all my old ones in the Chipotle free burrito drawing jar, and that could work out great. Tough call.

  47. Ed Moore
    Permalink to comment#

    My current title is Senior Interactive Developer, which is mostly the same as front-end developer, however I also do stuff for installations at events.

  48. Melindrea
    Permalink to comment#

    My current title is pretty much Developer, but of the suggested titles here I think it’s closer to Full-Stack Developer. It’s certainly a title that I like for myself.

    I do have a bit of an eye for design, but outside of getting to run with it some when it comes to responsive stuff (I get a PSD of the ‘desktop design’), I don’t tend to do too much with it, at least not at work.

    (and on a random note: Love the preview of the post.)

  49. Permalink to comment#

    What if amongst other web related tasks you seem to be the only one in the office who ever makes cups of tea and coffee – I was wondering if that should have a particular title?

  50. But wait, I was told I was a rockstar, how will I know where to play my gigs!?

  51. Grant
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m a sr. front end engineer, but they all me a sr. software engineer, I always worry when I tell people they think I wrote code for NORAD or something!!! I just make the web go, not the missiles!

  52. Permalink to comment#

    No Quality Assurance? No Tester? Don’t you want to make sure your product is thoroughly vetted before you ship it to a customer.

    That’s a very important part of the development process that you have excluded.

  53. I was inspired by this article to create this graphic to help you find your job title:
    What’s Your Web Industry Job Title?

    • Lol. I’m a Lead Interface Specialist. Fun!

    • Ren,

      And today I was inspired by your graphic as well when I clicked on the link from my phone and expected to see a responsive page… but instead, I got an image.

      So I decided to build a simple HTML version of your image, check the page out:

      HTML version of the ‘What’s Your Industry Job Title’.

      Let me know what you all think.

      Thanks!

      PS. “Technician” is present twice on the ‘First letter of your last name’ section (N and Y), so I changed the last one to “Guru”.

      PS2. I’m “Central Front End Planner” o_O WTF? lol

    • Erica
      Permalink to comment#

      Ricardo, can you add a link so I can like it on FB, tweet it and post it to Pinterest?

      GREAT job, to both of you, that’s a fun little graphic. I should know, I’m a Principal Content Developer.

    • Hello Erica,

      I’m glad you liked the page :), Thanks.

      Followed your advice and added the social sharing functionality, check it out: What’s Your Web Industry Job Title

      Note: I didn’t include Pinterest because I didn’t use any images on that page, maybe you can reference Ren’s image from here: http://renwalker.com/images/uploads/job-title.jpg

      Thanks again.

  54. This was really useful, actually. Just inspired me to change my official title to “Designer and Front-End Developer”, since I do a lot of graphic design and illustration but still know my way around HTML, CSS, and a bit of Javascript.

  55. I fall into the recruitment gap you mention. I’m freelance at the moment, previously an employee, and nobody has a consistent term for the job I do. It makes it hard to search for opportunities, and hard to keep an elevator pitch short!

    My current contract labels me as “Technical Analyst”. Sometimes called Solutions Architect, sometimes Technical Architect. The problem there is that different places have totally different definitions and requirements for these roles. Me? I work mainly alongside UXers, researching technical integrations, sussing out what can be done with APIs, investigating the impact of different technologies, building POCs, talking to people, and making sure that the technical solutions proposed meet the user and business needs rather than being a solution forced for the wrong reasons. I feed into the creative process based on opportunities and options from my research. I help devs plan solutions with my research in mind, but I don’t actually code on the project (though my background is development).

    In my eyes it’s a very important role, albeit not one yet widely adopted, but it’s incredibly different to the traditional, more software-led “Solutions Architect”, who is often more someone who is handed requirements and spews out UML and schemas. I ask questions, listen to answers, and use technology to find creative solutions to problems.

  56. Francesco Belladonna
    Permalink to comment#

    Finally I understood the name of my job (and I understood I’m not doing 2 jobs at once), full stack developer is my final target!

  57. Permalink to comment#

    This is great if you work for a company who can afford to pay different people to do different roles, but the reality is most of us end up doing more than one of these things at once for at least some of the time. Then, indeed, there are definitions adapted in different localities /countries; I have always labelled myself Web Developer and yet by your definition I’m a “full stack developer”.

    Of course, since going self-employed it’s all much of a muchness. My clients just tend to call me Jem.

  58. Michelle
    Permalink to comment#

    I feel like non-technical people will have no idea what a Full Stack Developer is. Is there a better way to say Front and Back End Developer?

    As others have said, there should also be a title specifically for Full Stack Developers who also do the (artistic and UI) design aspect.

    I feel like Web Developer could cover either of these, but it’s so generic and open for interpretation.

    When you add in print media , other graphic design, SEO, or social media into the mix you’re still staring at a title like “Print and Digital Media Designer and Web Developer” which is hideous. I feel like my freelancing business cards should just say “Yes, I can make that blog, website, email, logo, brochure, or wall mural from start to finish. Yes, it will be awesome. Yes, better than what your admin assistant made. No, not for free.”

    Maybe “Be-All-End-All Ninja Rockstar” is exactly the title we all need.

    • JoshWhite
      Permalink to comment#

      I kind of agree here… something like “web designer” it very generic, but it does assume an awful lot about someone’s position without defining it. Many of these jobs can fit to some or all of it’s capacity into a basic web designer. Something like “Visual Designer” is pretty specific: you deal with the visuals. But there doesn’t seem to be an easy descriptor for someone who can successfully handle 4-5 different jobs without making it a grossly massive title.

  59. As with most people above I too am a crossover among a few job titles.

    I design for web and print, do both front and back end code, photography (part of the job – not hobby wise) and oversee the creative direction of a team of designers.

    My title is simply Creative Director.

  60. JoshWhite
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve seen a lot more “strategiest” positions pop up, which seem to fall into either the planning/consulting phase of everything and I do think there is a legit group here that really know their stuff, but I’m not quite sure what the titles might be.

  61. Scotty
    Permalink to comment#

    Interesting note on the full-stack developer term, I’ve never heard or seen that though. I don’t know if it’s as obvious as the “Web Designer/Developer” title I use personally (it’s a bit more obvious for non-saavy folks).

  62. Covarr
    Permalink to comment#

    My official title is webmaster, and the very reason you call it a bad title, that it “never developed any specific meaning”, it’s absolutely perfect for me. I do some limited frontend work, some customer service work, some product manager, and a fair chunk of SEO. Basically every side of web things at my company comes through me at some point or another, but we deal in print first and foremost. Our web product is only a small fraction of what we do, and we rely heavily on an external company for hosting and providing the CMS that we use.

    I actually very rarely get a chance to use HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, and when I do it’s most often to work around some limitation in the CMS. Sadly, it’s not in my power to switch to something more versatile, or to develop something in-house, or I totally would. Instead, I get to do boring things like swapping in new ads, and other general maintenance work.

  63. Permalink to comment#

    I agree and its nice to finally get this cleared up! I always considered myself to be a web designer and front-end developer, however, based on the above, I’d be considered as a Web Designer. Perhaps I’ll venture to the true definition of a Front-End Developer in the future, but for now, I’ll stick to my little design bubble of Photoshop, HTML, CSS and light Javascript coding.

    :)

  64. Doug Wollison
    Permalink to comment#

    My current job title is Interactive Developer; it’s more of a front-end title (as how the job was offered), but I end up doing just as much backend work.

  65. There is Software Developer as well to be grouped in with Software Engineer and Programmer I guess. It really depends on where you’re working, I’m currently a ‘Senior ASP.NET Developer”, basically I’m a full-stack developer here but have a more generic title. In my opinion Software Developer and Software Engineer are just generic ‘you can make stuff on a computer’ which may or may not include the web.

    On the topic of Senior/Junior, it’s worth pointing out that the level of experience to attain such a title can vary wildly depending on the organisation. Some companies ‘over title’ and some ‘under title’.

  66. Permalink to comment#

    My role is a “Web Architect” – integrating UX designs with re-usable UI architecture that I then have to train and enforce to “Web UI developers”.

    I think you were missing that role area.

  67. Chris
    Permalink to comment#

    Doesn’t seem to mention the popular Hybrid Designer or whatever you may call it. I design websites from scratch, then I code the HTML/CSS/JS/PHP then integrate in WordPress, Django, Drupal, or such. I also handle setting up my servers usually with Ubuntu as well as doing any Print Media (branding requests). Usually I say I’m a Front End Developer and do design though some people who call themselves Web Designers handle design, and html/css/html/wordpress.

  68. I think we’re getting to the point now where the line between mobile, app, and web design is blurring. As such, I for one have started to sell myself as simply, a “designer”.

    This might come of as pompous or egotistical, but as I learn more about general design “best practices”—typography, colour theory, layout, and hierarchy—the more I realise that these skills are highly transferable. It’s a little like the old jacuzzi /hot tub argument, though; all web designers are designers, but not all designers are web designers.

    • dt
      Permalink to comment#

      It is hard to disagree with the first paragraph.

      Also there is nothing pompous or egotistical about the ”best practices” argument. I would describe it as a little surprising, but it is only surprising because of the very loose definition of the word designer in the creative industry.

      The reason I find it surprising, is the reason why I disagree with your last sentence. It is surprising because colour theory, layout, and hierarchy are part a general set of ”universal“ rather than ”transferable“ skills.

      These universal skills reflect how our brains perceive the environment around them. Whether it is product, industrial, web, visual, UI, UX or any other design, the skills are at the core of these disciplines and the understanding of them is required to producing good work.

      Which is why I personally think that being a designer requires knowing these core skills. Until one does they are closer to a ”production artist” — a loose term frequently applied in advertising to a person who knows Photoshop at al. and executes the designs of the art-director/copywriter team rather then being able to come up with a design themselves.

      Assuming: 1. agreement on the points above, 2. HTML, CSS and Javascript are simply tools (similar to Creative Suite) one learns to use vs a core understanding of a discipline.

      Based on that I would suggest:

      All designers can be web designers by accessing a set of tool, but not all web designers are necessarily designers unless they understand the core skills

  69. DarrenM
    Permalink to comment#

    Well I do everything from website design right through to back-end coding and database. I also work on non-web related stuff. So a title is pretty much going to be so generic as to be useless or too specific to correctly convey what I do.

    So to the tax office and other formal interested parties, I am a ‘computer programmer’ or ‘IT professional’ and to anyone else I just say ‘Web developer’. Given that 90% of people who ask me wouldn’t understand what I do anyway, it really makes no difference what I call myself. Non-IT people tend to glaze over at the eyeballs as soon as you mention computers.

    So I guess I’m in the “don’t care” department, and having come from a large organisation background, ain’t it grand!

    Speaking of grand, I was once asked at a loud party what I did for a living. To illustrate, I made a gesture of typing on a keyboard. The lady I was talking to got the idea I played the piano. I should have stuck with that, it has a bit more of a ring to it.

  70. Adam
    Permalink to comment#

    Titles that end in engineer can be prefixed with “Principal” as in “Principal Software Engineer” this is typically above a “Senior” position. There is also the “Architect” title.

  71. Mary
    Permalink to comment#

    My official title at work is HTML Developer. When is the last time anyone did only HTML? I think for me it was 1996. Although I most fit the description of a Front End Developer, I usually just say Web Developer because it makes some sense to people who have no clue what a “Front End” is.

  72. Dirk Krause
    Permalink to comment#

    I propose the job title ‘Devigner’ : https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/b5b7932feac8

  73. My official job title is (Senior) UI Developer which we essentially use as a synonym for frontend developer.

  74. I’ve always read “Web Master” as an administrator who does tedious tasks, and responds to emails like “hey put this blog post up and find a picture to go with it” or “I have new products that need to be listed”.

    The requirements being technical knowledge and google-fu comparable to that of an average teenager.

  75. I wish that someone had put something like this up five years ago. I’m a Front End Dev, and the hardest part of breaking into the industry was knowing which job title the role I wanted to fulfil was. I did years of back end work when I left uni until a recruiter who knew their stuff helped me out and told me that I wanted to be a FED.

  76. I’m sure anyone in the UK is aware, but recruitment websites go as follows for our industry:

    Information Technology >
    
       Software Developer
       Web Developer _(if you are lucky)_
    
    Design >
    
      Web Design
      Graphic Design
    

    that’s your lot in terms of “filters” …
    which means you are forced to search for specific job titles like “Frontend Web Developer” … and you miss out on so many hybrid or badly-specced jobs by people who do not understand the industry and it’s nuances.

    Sad Times.

  77. Simon
    Permalink to comment#

    That is spot on Chris!.

    I think often I see job postings where they write for example. “web developer” but then, when you ask about the job, then you should do everything from Frontend to Backend but also be really good at designing.

    This means they will have someone who can do it all, and welding underwater :)

  78. Ken GRR
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve been calling myself a “UI/UX Architect” which I heard about in a keynote I listened to last year. I oversee and design web applications…form it’s initial conception to production. I provide initial design mock ups, and then static clickable online mock ups which then provides all the front end code to build these interfaces. Then I work with the .Net team to implement. My coding skills are as sharp and meticulous as my design skills. So I think the title makes a lot of sense.

    I did pre-Architecture in college and as an architect, you listen to the client, then design and then provide blueprints for the project. You stay involved throughout the process of development and make needed changes. For me, this is exactly what I do…but with software.

    But mostly I call myself this because it sounds cooler…and maybe gets me more $$ ;-)

  79. Courtney Jordan
    Permalink to comment#

    I found this article interesting however as a Graphic Designer, Web Developer and Web Designer I couldn’t find a title that meets all needs. Is there a title for someone who can fill all of these shoes?

  80. I’m the Director of Web Services. There’s a Front End Developer underneath me, and then we have a Director of Creative Services playing a double role as our UI guy.

  81. Colin Léger
    Permalink to comment#

    When people ask me what my title is, I tell them ‘Webmaster’ and then follow by saying ‘I feel like I should wear a pointy hat, a cape with stars and wave my wand all day long’

    I work with HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, JavaScript, create UI for SharePoint and web apps, support extensively SharePoint, manipulate/stream video, consult staff on all aspects of the web.

    I agree Webmaster is old and cheesy and would like people to take my job seriously and this one, for me, doesn’t feel like people would. Especially after doing it for 15 years.

    Thanks,
    Colin
    Web Designer / Web Developer / Front End Developer / UI Designer / Interaction Designer / Product Manager

  82. Justin
    Permalink to comment#

    Some previous employers of mine had the titles ‘web specialist’ and ‘web strategist’. I always liked those titles for some reason..

  83. AKF
    Permalink to comment#

    “A synonym for Content Strategy could be Information Architect?”

    Not completely, although these are two sides of the same coin they do look at content from a slightly different angle.

    Content Strategy _bridges content, editorial, and digital publishing _
    Is the underbelly of content: content strategy, purpose, creation, publication, management and governance. This would also include SEO principles.

    Information Architect_ bridges content, site infrastructure and design_
    Is the representation of content to the end user: how the content is presented on the digital product.

  84. Ramesh Chowdarapally
    Permalink to comment#

    So… How can we call you chris, as a Web Designer or Web Developer ?

  85. Danny
    Permalink to comment#

    Good rundown.

  86. So many comments!

    I class myself as a Front End Developer as I do HTML, CSS & JS. Where I am contracting at the moment they have Javascript Developers with the same job title :s

    There is such a vast array of job specs per job title.

  87. Permalink to comment#

    Great article, I was always confused about my job title. I code HTML email templates, do SEO, design websites using photoshop and use HMTL, CSS and Jquery and build real websites. I also know some PHP and MySQL, I never liked JavaScript and Adobe Illustrator… I have bee n calling myself a web designer, front end developer and SEO specialist. What would be the job title of someone with my skills?

  88. I’ve enjoyed reading through the comments almost as much as the post itself. I typically fall into the not caring camp and jokingly refer to myself as a designeloper. That works fine for silly bios but when I really have to describe what I do, I typically list off a combination of the roles defined above. From there, the conversation will usually move on to technologies and tools.

    I think most people would agree that the definitions here are widely agreed upon and that most of the confusion comes from hybrids. Well, more from the agencies and organizations trying to hire hybrids than the hybrids themselves. I’ve seen more job listings with cheesy titles than LinkedIn positions or resumes.

    The key is to define your title, not let your title define you. No matter how mundane your official title sounds, you are not a hot-swappable cog. We all bring different things to the table and whether you dig deeper into your specialization or teach yourself tangential skills that change your title, this industry requires us all to keep learning.

  89. I’m WD,WP, WAD, or WDD .. ;)

  90. Patrick Bateman
    Permalink to comment#

    You forgot “VP of ___”. It means … well, like all the other terms here, pretty much nothing at all, except sometimes “I have stock options that might actually be worth something someday”.

    Seriously, job titles don’t mean anything. This is the geek’s version of the business card scene in American Psycho.

    And no, it’s not just because “I work for myself or for some little startup where the title can be like “Lead Hucklebucker” or some other nonsense”, and it’s condescending for you to suggest that (especially for someone whose comment form urges us to “be nice”!). Job titles meant nothing at all even when I was working on the flagship product at a successful Fortune-50 company.

  91. Matheus
    Permalink to comment#

    I think “web developer” must be “back-end developer”.

  92. Mazurka
    Permalink to comment#

    This should be handed as a prerequisite to anybody hiring within the web industry. One of the biggest issues I have faced was finding something that fit when leaving one agency and trying to move somewhere else.

    It seemed that every single position I saw was looking for about half a dozen titles in that breakdown, from a single person.

  93. Steve
    Permalink to comment#

    User Researcher.

    • Sam Brody
      Permalink to comment#

      I agree completely with that! Have you guys ever really sat down and thought about how many languages, markups, frameworks, libraries & systems we learn to use, brush up on, yell at everyday to do our jobs. For me the basic run down is HTML, CSS, Bootstrap framework, Javascript, Jquery Library, PHP, Yii, Mysql. Thats 9 things!!! 9 and I have only been doing this for two years. And I am new doing this for less then 2 years!

      On top of this barrage of brain busting learning I am a freelancer/I really hate that term, so I end up doing a lot of the UX, Design (although I dont mess around with photoshop) blah, I just tell people I build things for the cloud

    • Sam Brody
      Permalink to comment#

      sidebar: Chris, this site has saved my ass more times then I can count! Thank you sir!

    • Sam Brody
      Permalink to comment#

      Notes I forgot to include the CMS and e-commerce systems

      WordPress, Magento, Concrete5…….so 12 systems

  94. OMG so many comments!

    I love this post, Chris, but I’m not sure I agree with your description of UX Designer as being just a person who does research. I think of user experience as the umbrella that covers visual design, interaction design, and usability. I’d say that a UX Designer is someone who designs more than one element within the UX umbrella, and the person you described would be a User Researcher or Usability Engineer. Is that just me?

    Side note: in the mid-90s I had the glamorous job title of “Design Diva” because my bosses were afraid “Webmistress” was too sexy.

  95. George Gooding
    Permalink to comment#

    Front End Engineer definitely applies if you have a degree in Computer Engineering and are doing front end work, meaning you have the background and experience to work the whole stack. Engineer also signifies that you are interested in ensuring the front end is engineered to work optimally as a whole with the rest of the system, focusing on performance, optimization, loading times, etc.

    Webmaster is still a valid title, although it’s more a content/management position than web development/design position. The webmaster is the person an organization hires to keep their web site running properly, updates content, or calls on consultants to make changes. Webmasters should also have rudimentary front end skills to help make their work with CMSes and such easier, not to mention understanding what to ask the consultants for when changes are needed.

    Isn’t there some big database of job titles somewhere where all of this should be a bit more atomically determined? It’s a shame the industry hasn’t made more of an effort to standardize these job titles.

  96. Tyson Benson
    Permalink to comment#

    I guess that makes me a Full Stack Developer.

  97. Brady B
    Permalink to comment#

    Thanks for sharing, Chris!

  98. Jerome Lecomte
    Permalink to comment#

    My Product & Project Managers would disagree with you that their role is the same ;p

    The way they’ve put it is:

    the Product Manager is responsible for the success of a product (application, website, etc)… essentially that it answers the needs of its users, aligns with the company goals, drives customer acquisition and revenue up…
    the Project Manager is responsible for shipping the product on time, on budget… essentially that is execution is on track with the criteria set…

    • Permalink to comment#

      I agree with this distinction. I think many people lump product managers with project managers because the former role is frequently misunderstood. (Throw in a “program manager” for extra confusion.) And in smaller teams, the roles are often performed by a single person.

      Another way I make the distinction is tools: project managers deal with schedules and budgets; product managers deal with usage and performance reports. They’re arguably as different as an Adobe product and an IDE are from each other.

  99. Anonymous
    Permalink to comment#

    I think Technical Projectmanager is missing.

  100. Permalink to comment#

    My job title, “UI Performance Engineer”, is missing. It is a combination of 40% front-end development, 10% back-end development, 20% quality assurance, 10% UX, 10% DevOps, 10% technical training.

  101. I find it funny how some companies abuse these titles when hiring a “web designer” and expect them to do print work, branding and collateral, front-end development and implementation, project management as well as SEO.

    Thank you for the write up.

    • You know what’s funnier?

      Job descriptions for Front End Developers that require the person to know: PHP, .NET, Ruby, Java, Node.js, JSON, MySQL, Drupal, WordPress, Apache, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Photoshop, UI Design experience or “Expertise in the web design process and the use of Adobe Creative Suite.” RELOL.

      Does anyone smell a Unicorn?

  102. As a Web Designer/ Front End Developer it amazes me how many dumb names employers have come up with for the same thing.

    For me is amazingly simple:

    Web Designer = UI Designer, Visual Designer, Interaction Designer. A Web Designer should know about all those aspects of… well, web design.

    Note that I didn’t include “UX Designer”, because that’s the most flawed name someone could come up with. Why? Simple: You CANNOT design the user experience.

    You PLAN the user experience and with the help of Web Design and Web Development you/we create applications (websites are apps now, we know that) that evoke pleasant feelings on users and visitors.

    See? Simple.

    Another thing is: Web Developer is the same exact thing as Web Programmer or Back End Programmer.

    The realm in which a Web Developer and Web Designer meet, is in the realm of HTML + CSS + JavaScript. They part ways when it comes to design and when it comes to development/programming.

    To end this one, here’s a question:

    Is there then a “Usability Designer”? o_O

  103. Rakel
    Permalink to comment#

    I think you’re also missing QA/Testers. You know, the people who look for bugs before you put something into production.

  104. If I could create job titles from scratch, and not have them just evolve over time, I would follow MVC architecture.

    “Model” jobs: DB administrator, DB architect, and probably even Sysadmins.
    “Controller” jobs: Software Engineer, Back-end Developer, which encompasses backend work including Python, PHP, .Net and even compiled programs. So far, Web-specific technologies are not required, until we get to the View level…
    “View” jobs: Here we should split it into implementation and design:

    “View Implementation” jobs: Web developer, Front-end Developer — HTML, CSS, Javascript.
    “View Design” jobs: Web Designer. I think a good Web Designer should know everything about UI and UX design, including all the psychology of colors, shapes, placement, eye-tracking, etc.

    So there, in my perfect world, there would be 4 categories of jobs, with one or two titles in each category. Then of course, you have all the additional duties which too frequently get overlooked, such as System Architect, SEO Specialist, Technical Writer, Customer Service Rep, and so on, but they are mostly outside of the development stack. Then of course, there’s many of us who work across these divisions, and that’s where a single title becomes either too awkward or inadequate.

  105. Permalink to comment#

    Full Stack Developer is combo of Web Designer, Front End Developer & Web Developer thank you for telling me who I am :P

  106. Permalink to comment#

    Good summation! As someone who does about 80% design (half print and half web), 10-15% code, and 10% everything else, I’ve used the term “web & media specialist” which has been a good loosey-goosey term to throw around with clients and not throw myself into a truly particular specialty.

  107. Permalink to comment#

    I think it is only in the web industry, people create too much job titles and understand a very little about the responsibilities. It is because that the internet has too much noise and power to the common man.

  108. Kamaboko
    Permalink to comment#

    I can tell you that as a recruiter, I too, do not like the term Ninja or Rock Star. I can’t tell you how many resumes and on-line profiles I’ve seen from developers (front or back-end) who refer to themselves as a Ninja or Rock Star. I quickly skip over them simply because history has demonstrated that they can’t pass a simple code exercise.

  109. Hi,

    I’m basically a Web Designer with over 5 years of experience, my most of the work consists on HTML5 CSS3, responsive websites, cross browser standardization, W3C validation, CMS Integration, pixel to pixel analysis and lot’s more technical stuff. So on my personal website, I added tagline with three major designations as Firstly Web Designer, secondly Front-end Engineer and then finally a CMS Integrator.

    So the tagline is working as a quick profile for me.

  110. Anthony Ryan Delorie
    Permalink to comment#

    Seems like you could add at least one more title: Front End Architect.
    Example is someone who goes into a company that is not current, like doing only Flash and tightly coupled JAVA apps, and the need someone to architect a modular HTML5 approach, as they are trying to get on all devices and into app stores etc…

  111. Alan Shortis
    Permalink to comment#

    Well. Now I know my job title isn’t right. The question is, do I ask my boss to change it?

  112. Permalink to comment#

    Unlike Chris, and some of the others who commented here, I always considered a “WebMaster” to be one who and a overall knowledge of the entire website stack, including the back end, front end, and most importantly managed/optimized the server/site. To those who mentioned content and response as webmaster duties, those are really marketing/customer service functions suited for those hired for their communication skills, and oft ill suited to the likes of those techies.

  113. David
    Permalink to comment#

    “Producer” is a role some studios I’ve worked at have to used for people who enter content, make minor changes, etc for a site. It’s a junior role, obviously, but a good way to get in the game when first starting out.

    • Brian

      I’m seeing “Producer” a LOT these days in the Washington DC area. Varying degree of depth in the front end skills.

  114. Permalink to comment#

    My title is Web Designer but I do a lot of front end development and a little of back end development. I am hoping to reach the full stack developer soon. I’ve only been in the field for 3 years…

    • Permalink to comment#

      There’s a scary thought… Full Stack would imply that you know the backend very well (incl database dev) wouldn’t it?

  115. Emily
    Permalink to comment#

    Hmm, I don’t see anything about email designers, or support for email, up here…

  116. ‘Job Titles in the Web Industry’ is really messy topic. We are mostly hybrids! There no one-title that suits us.

    I use ‘UI/UX Designer & Developer’ as a my title.

  117. Dave Wongillies
    Permalink to comment#

    Dev Ops should be moved into the bad job titles section, as it isn’t a job title, its a methodology. What you’ve described as a “dev ops” is the kind of jobs that a systems administrator or system engineer would do. If they have more of a focus on the build and test environments then they’ll probably be called a test, build or QA engineer.

    • Finally! I can’t believe it’s taken this many comments for someone to object to ‘DevOps’ as a job title. Even Wikipedia has this one right!

      We have a “Web Ops” team which still isn’t great IMHO but can at least be considered a job title. As you’d imagine, they are responsible for web-based operations: server config and management, DNS, build and deploy jobs, monitoring, etc. etc.

      I, on the other hand, find myself bouncing around the stack depending on the project so have settled for “Hired Geek” (thanks to Hunter S.) ;)

  118. Pete Wagner
    Permalink to comment#

    Hi there!

    First off i want to thank for a really nice article.

    For some time now i have been thinking about what title suites my work the best. As far as i’ve seen Full Stack Developer seens right for at least some of my duties, but it doesn’t feel enough. :)
    I create websites all the way from creating a design suggestion in photoshop, writing HTML, CSS, JS, JQuery and to designing databases and their structure and PHP code. I even go in and manage the webserver, sometimes even building the server (hardware). Sometimes i also get to create an Android app or two.

    Do you guys got any good suggestion to what title(s) that could fit? :) My employer has only put “Software” as title, but it doesn’t feel enough. Some have said “You’re a programmer AND a web developer.”

    • “Unicorn”, but we know that doesn’t exist.

      Truth be told, “Software” is no where near close to what you do.

      “Web Designer / Web Programmer” may be the title to fit you. Terms like “Full Stack” have completely zero meaning in general, and TBH if I met someone that calls himself a “Full Stack Developer” the level of credibility starts way below 0 in my eyes.

      Call things by their name.

  119. Jerry
    Permalink to comment#

    And now above all…new breed of DUMBs called Usability pro are crossing the lines of designers….
    What a heck..i happens to work with these fellas…talks a LOT but cant paint/draw a line or code a page!!!

  120. Permalink to comment#

    Goodness me there was a lot of scrolling there just to get to the bottom.

    I guess I’m a Web Designer / Developer / UX Designer. A little confused as to the difference between Web Designer and UX Designer. Shouldn’t a UX person know a lot about HTML, CSS and Javascript?

  121. Thanks, Chris! I’ve been thinking about titles recently and you summed them up nicely. I think in the past two years, I’ve gone from calling myself a “Web Designer & Developer” to “Front-End Designer & Developer” to “Web Designer & Front-End Developer.” I code with more swagger, but I love the creative process of designing for the web (type, colors, UI elements, page layouts) and I do enjoy designing when I can.

    I think the more accurate title of what I love to do would be “UI/UX Designer & Developer,” which of course is mumbo jumbo to non-creatives and techies.

  122. I suspect my title of “Developer” could be a synonym for “Jack of all trades”.

  123. Dev Ops is becoming a bloody buzzword; linux/unix | Windows sysadmin is perfect to describe that job, period.

  124. Jenna
    Permalink to comment#

    I think I wrote something like this mainly as a rant a year or so ago, because I kept noticing how askew job titles and paired skill requirements were on various job boards. I have definitely noticed the “rockstar” and “ninja” terms applied to job titles on Craig’s List.

    As for my titles, they have been… odd.

    For my first entry-level position my boss asked me what I should be called. Since I did so many things including web design, graphic design, video editing, 2D animation, etc., I said “Uh, I am a Digital Artist! I guess?”
    My second job also had no official title. When asked what I was and what was put on my tax records, I was literally called “The Web Girl”.
    At another job my title was “Production Artist”. I did a lot of coding cleanup, development, design and other stuff. I am almost certain that job title has to do with film though.
    Yet another job, at an agency, I had I was called an “Assistant Website Manager”, which actually consisted of nothing but client maintenance requests.

    Where do people come up with these titles? I think I’d rather be called a Kawasaki Ninja Web Designer than “The Web Girl”.

  125. this was a really interesting post and I particularly enjoyed the comments and added titles. But I must admit, I do what I do and at the end of the day I don’t really care what you call me… so long as you call me

  126. Permalink to comment#

    I find that in job descriptions, including my own, “web developer” often refers to both front and backend development. Front end developers are usually listed as “front end developers/engineers”, and backend developers listed more specifically by technology, i.e. PHP Developer, .net developer, etc.

  127. Permalink to comment#

    For the longest time, our boss called his Front End Developers “HTML Guys”. I’m not sure he really understands what it is we do.

  128. 牧之
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m a front end developer,but my boss is always called me front end Engineer

  129. Permalink to comment#

    I still get called “webmaster” far too often. This is how I feel when it happens.

  130. So how deep should the skills of a Front-End Developer be? I design both print and web (mostly web) and work mainly in WordPress. I write all my themes from scratch (well, from a blank theme). While, for the most part, I can’t just sit down and write jQuery or pHp, I can Google the shit out of it to find out what I need, if I don’t already know it (and/or have it saved in a handle little cheat doc). So, that makes me a… Designer/Wordpress Developer? Or Designer/Front End Developer?

    • Hello Sarah,

      I’m in the exact same boat as you, and to answer your first question “…how deep should the skills of a Front-End Developer be?”: As deep as possible as far as I’m concerned.

      And as you, I’m not a hard-core JavaScript programmer and honestly I don’t plan in becoming one any time soon. However, to know a decent amount of jQuery is something Web Developers seem to find very valuable, but as I said before around here, when the JavaScript [jQuery] starts turning too complex and gnarly, that’s when I let my Web Developer folks take over so they can do their magic.

      I do print stuff too but I personally try to stay away from doing any of that as much as possible since I want to be known as a Web Designer more than a Graphic Designer.

      I ditched print design many years ago: Too much stress sending jobs to print and hope that you didn’t accidentally miss a letter, a punctuation, an RGB color that didn’t get converted to CMYK, that the outlines were thick enough to be seen but not too thick, that the die(s) matched the desired cut(s)… oh boy. We don’t have to deal with any of these things on the web :D

      To answer your final question “So, that makes me a… Designer/Wordpress Developer? Or Designer/Front End Developer?”: You’re a Print-Web Designer / Front End Developer in my eyes.

    • Thanks Richard! I agree with Designer/ Front-End Developer. Lately I’ve been using “Web & Graphic Designer/Front-End Developer. I also agree that the skills can never be deep enough, but what are employers expecting Front-End Developers to know? I haven’t been job searching in quite some time, so I have no idea. In the last company I worked for, I was the web department, so I pretty much determined myself what I did in-house and what was contracted out (it wasn’t as nice as it sounds here haha).

    • In general, employers have no effin clue what they need because many of them are looking for a ‘Unicorn’.

      Here’s a small extract of a job posting I received:

      Title: UI Developer
      Duration: 3+ Months

      Responsibilities (I’m only listing two):

      Design, layout and code websites
      Create site layout/user interface from developed design concepts by using standard HTML/CSS practices.

      Requirements(I’m only listing three):

      Practical experience in MVC architecture, including but not limited to rich internet application (RIAs) technologies, such as AJAX, as well as fundamental cross-browser rapid prototyping with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.
      Experience with .NET, C# and IIS
      Experience with MVC and RESTful software architectures, or similar

      As you can see, Responsibilities and Requirements don’t match at all, they want a Web Designer and a Web Developer in one. Not gonna happen so easily.

      Besides, if they were to really find this Unicorn, do you think a 3 month contract work would be appealing to that person? I don’t think so. Besides, that person would already be working somewhere else a full time job, or had built CSS-Tricks.com >_< lol.

      We can rant all we want about job titles in the web industry, but the real issue is that there’s a sheer amount of companies that are hiring us that have no damn clue about what exactly we do. Good for those that are working somewhere where they’re valued, or those, like you that are successful freelancers.

    • That job ad actually made me laugh out loud. Completely insane. I guarantee they probably don’t need someone with all those skills, but some IT person or a Google search told them they do, and now they are going to end up with a programmer with no design skills, if anyone at all. I certainly would have passed on applying for that.

      When I left my last full time job, they hired TWO people to replace me, both holding Masters degrees (I only have two Associates), one in graphic design and one in web something. Neither person could do my job and both quit within two years. They hired the wrong people for the part, largely because Google told them the wrong skills to look for. Well, that, and they didn’t listen to the Art Director on what I actually did all day long… but that’s another story in “poorly run companies.” ;)

      Freelancing is the way to go. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Fortunately for me it’s not my sole source of income. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to rely on such an up-and-down industry for a living.

  131. Alessandro
    Permalink to comment#

    Web Content Engineer, see wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_Engineering

  132. Permalink to comment#

    I just saw this pearl:

    “We are looking for a Web Presentation-Layer Specialist…”, WETF that means.

    Requirements:

    Advanced JS
    SASS experience a plus
    3+ years of front end experience


  133. Permalink to comment#

    So I am a web designer, UI designer and a front-end web developer :) Hmm.. I’d rather call myself a web ninja.

  134. Here’s my new title as of (9/30/13): Product UI/UX Specialist.

    My last title was Sr. Web Designer.

  135. Christina
    Permalink to comment#

    I need some advice if any of you can help. My title is Graphic Designer, however I have gained lots of experience in web design and development. Basically I do a little bit of everything at work, which is great but now that I’m working on my portfolio I don’t want to just put myself as a graphic designer. What would be a good title or a way to describe this?

    For the past two years I have done the following,

    Graphic design, theme development, web application design, project management etc

    I’m just not sure what the best way to go about this is.

  136. Permalink to comment#

    Hi Christina, Most employers understand that many creative people in the tech industry wear a lot of hats. If you use words like Multimedia/Graphic/Web/Design in your title, then an employer will be likely to find your resume. Once they begin reading, they will see your diverse array of talents and experience.

    • @Karen That’s not entirely true. As a matter of fact employers and recruiters have little idea that designers/creatives in the web industry are capable of doing several things and do them well.

      I can say this because I’ve talked to A LOT of them (employers and recruiters) very recently and for several months now. Some of them have some idea (can’t say they’re 100% clueless of course), but certainly nowhere near to what you’re implying.

      Here’s a very short story about a personal experience not so long ago (from the time of this post obviously).

      @Christina, “Print/Web Design & Developer” would work. I’d personally exclude Project Management as part of the “title”, it’s not relevant to the other two, unless you personally want to focus on that.

  137. With me I was more Web designing and coding as well. But after some years in the field I sticked with Front End Development (HTML5/CSS3/Javascript/Responsive websites).

  138. The two most recent titles I’ve had were “Front End Designer” and “Design Engineer.” Both were trying to convey the hybrid web designer/front end developer responsibilities.

    Here’s a new one I’ve seen recently– “Full Stack Designer.” Thoughts?

  139. Matt
    Permalink to comment#

    Don’t mess with ninja my friend – we worked hard to earn that (refer to it as cutesy in the presence of a ninja, just once, (I assure this will only occur once))

  140. Anamika
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey, Hello all.
    Can anyone tell me the difference between ” Technology Specialist”, “Technology Developer”, “Technology IT Professional”, “Technology Associate”,” Technology Specialist”?
    Whenever it comes to training there are these kinds of certificates available….and i get confused with these titles… and yeah also which one will be the best tag to opt?
    and yes I am just a student by profession and looking forward for some good training certificate.

  141. I am Working on Web, Print Media Graphic and Mobile App Design. Working on Designing web layout then convert into HTML5/CSS, Little JavaScript etc. I am also working on Print Media graphic like Brochure, Flyers, Branding etc. Also designing mobile apps. Sometime i am also do Video and Audio Editing and Photo Retouching.

    Sometime I have no time for done all work by self so handle and lead projects and Designer/Developer.

    My current title is “Web/UI and Graphic Designer” If you think this is not okay OR need some twist then please give suggestion.

  142. Rockstar ninja webmaster who likes to hack here

    • Eric

      Do you know of any Rockstar full stack developers that would like to relocate to San Diego, or work remote?

  143. Eric

    We are in need of a very talented full stack developer. If you know anyone you could recommend please email me at elenhardt@optilife.com. We are located in San Diego, California and have no problem relocating the right person, or working remote.

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