Web design and development is a fairly complicated industry with a lot of different disciplines and job titles. It can get a little confusing separating your web designer from your UX designer, or your front-end and back-end developers, so I thought I’d do a brief write-up to explore some of the more common disciplines on a web design team.
One thing to note, depending on the size and complexity of the organization, multiple specialized roles can absorbed into a single position. A big agency would have separate people in all of these roles – often several people in each – while a simple partnership might involve a one person who is responsible for all the development and project management. There’s a huge potential for cross-over and role absorption.
There is also quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to job titles, so this list is by no means the be and and end all. It’s simply a useful starting point.
Your web designers is responsible for how the site looks, which includes everything from color scheme, imagery, layout, and typography. They primarily work in tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks.
This person is responsible for ensuring the site maintains high visibility on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The SEO specialist must look at everything on and off the site that will have an impact on its search engine presence. This includes things like semantic coding, curating inbound links to the site, and fine-tuning copy to both appeal to readers and rank highly in targeted keywords.
Often called Content Strategists, the Information Architect is responsible for the structure and organization of the content of the site. They focus on navigation and meta data in order to improve the users experience and drive visitors along certain paths through a site. Information Architects are often responsible for creating sitemaps and wireframes.
User Experience Designer (UX Designer)
UX designers focus on how end-users interact with the site. The study these interactions and make changes to the site’s organization to allow users to more easily and efficiently get to the information they are seeking.
As the title suggests, the back-end developer handles anything server side, which would include databases and server-side coding like PHP, ASP, and Ruby.
A full-stack developer is capable of working on both the front and back-end of the project, although they often favor one over the other.
The project manager is responsible for ensuring that the project is completed on time and on budget. That means organizing the clients requirements, breaking down the project into deliverables, ensuring timelines and budgets are maintained, and keeping everyone on track.
As I said above, this is by no means an exhaustive list of jobs in web design and development. Think about it as a sort of greatest hits collection; there are a lot more specialized roles, as well as loads of people who work in support of the project (e.g. IT, copywriters).
I hope this was helpful and informative; if you see something I’ve overlooked, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below.