I’ve been thinking about something and I want to run it by you all & I’d LOVE to have a dialogue here in the comments to find out if I’m on the right track or if I’m waaaay off course. I trust you’ll chime in and let me know.
These days there are a dozen different titles for what I’ve deduced to four different professionals who are generally involved in a web / app design. I’m finding that semantics are important when managing projects and getting everyone’s vocabulary on the same page usually eliminates a lot of unnecessary confusion. And THAT is really the impetus behind this post. It is NOT to degrade anyone or start a fight online with those web designers and developers out there who might disagree with my use of terms here. That said – I DO want to know WHY you disagree with this – if, in fact, you do.
So, for example – when I refer to a “Designer” I do not mean someone who works on the front end of web builds. I really do mean the person(s) who literally designed the project we’re working on. And when I refer to a “Developer” I do not mean someone who can manipulate a drag and drop builder or set up a theme based on really awesome documentation. I literally mean someone who can throw open SublimeText and in a matter of minutes compile some pretty snazzy SASS or PHP or C# or whatever flavor of programming they are proficient in.
For a few reasons:
A) I can open Sublime Text and hack out some HTML, CSS and even some SASS. But I could never just sit down and start writing from scratch. Nope. Haven’t done that in 20+ yrs and have NO desire to really ever do it again.
B) I can download a drag and drop builder and learn how to manipulate the shortcodes and page settings to get a WordPress website to look the way I want. But I can’t even begin to compare myself to my friends who literally hand code websites from scratch. Not even gonna fake it on this one. I am not, in anyway, a developer.
C) I really cannot make pretty things. I have no real sense of creative production. I can replicate. And I can assess and critique (not criticize.) But I have never been consistent in producing original creative material aside from writing. I can express myself creatively through writing, nature and learning. I cannot express myself creatively in the Creative Cloud. :)
What I am is a very advanced web user proficient in WordPress, with a wide range of knowledge as it applies to all the fields below. But I cannot produce a design, I cannot build up the back end, I cannot apply front end stylings. I am a very well versed project manager with a solid understanding of motion theory along with a firm understanding of user behaviour. I can QA (quality assurance / debug) a website better than anyone I know and I can quickly tell you, in layman’s terms, what needs to happen – what the user is expecting to happen, what the admin wants to happen, why it needs to be set up a certain way. I can find all the holes in your design/development. I just can’t fix them.
That said – I am not any of the following – and these are the 4 roles I’ve filtered all the many different web tech professionals into — please don’t be offended. Help me sort all this out so I can get an even better understanding of it all:
Someone who designs things – to make it simple. They need not know code. They DO need to have a firm understanding, preferably at the expert level, of Content Management, User Permissions, Information Architecture, User Experience Design, User Interface Design, System Architecture, Front End and Back End Engineering. Note: they do not have to know how to do all these things – but they should have a clear understanding of how all these different knowledge areas interact with each other via design.
The Front End Engineers or Web Developers
Someone who takes the designers pretty looking things and turns them into code to be applied to the front end of a web development project. S/he should have the tools necessary for taking the designer’s pretty things and generating the appropriate files needed. Pixel perfect rendition is the end goal. The designs produced are not arbitrarily created – there is purpose behind every design decision and it is the job of the front end engineer to make sure those design decisions are effectively communicated to the end-user via seamless front end experience.
Back End Engineers or Web Developers or Programmers
Someone who takes the designers pretty things and turns them into code to be applied to the back-end of a web development project. S/he should have the tools necessary for taking the designer’s pretty things and generating the appropriate files needed. Pixel perfect rendition is the end goal. Articulating the functionality of the design, through back-end programming, is the responsibility of the programmer. Understanding that the designs were not arbitrarily created – that there was purpose behind every design decision – it is the job of the back-end engineer to ensure the functionality desired is produced in a manner that supports the front end user experience AND in many cases the back-end admin user experience.
Full Stack Engineers
A highly skilled engineer who can manage front and back-end engineering on a wide range of enterprise and application level builds. Comprehensive understanding on the roles of Information Architecture, UI/UX, Design, Front End and Back End Engineering.
Now, I haven’t even started on the different titles for people who run /manage websites. Like SEO experts vs Marketing Strategists. Or the people who sell websites like Account Managers and so on. I don’t think I’m touching those with a 10-foot pole. Yet. :)