What do I call myself?

Hi everyone,

I am currently job hunting and updating my resume and online portfolio, and I’m beginning to have second thoughts on the kind of title that fits my career path. For the past few years I considered myself as a web designer, but the skills and software that I have and would be interested in working with in a job are: html, css, asp, javascript, java, jsp, asp.net, xml, MySQL, Flash, Photoshop, Eclipse, etc.

Should I call myself a web designer? Web developer? Web designer/developer (sounds like a mouth full…)? I’ve heard people toss the title UI designer or developer before…

Another thing is that I’d like to get into is graphic design. I’ve made banners and logos before in my old student job and I even have photography as a past time, and I actually enjoy doing those too. Should I then start putting in web/graphic designer/developer :shifty: … or is there some kind of small title that can sum them all up?

Sorry for the random question… I think I’m thinking too much into this…

What about WebMaster?

I don’t know… I feel like the webmaster title should be for people that have exceptional experience and skill in web design/development… and I’m still considered a newbie.

Are you looking to learn anything server related. If not go with web developer.

It sounds like you are a front-end developer or just a developer.

While it’s certainly possible to play both sides of the table, once people discover that you code “real languages” it’s rare to remain focused on design, so if that’s what you want to do more of, tweak your resume… It’s not ok to lie, it is ok to sell your skills down in one area if you don’t desire to work there as much.

What have been your responsibilities at previous positions? Having interest is a great thing but when it comes down to it most opportunities are going to be more interested in what your able to do right now. Having said that the technologies that have been listed heavily vary. Being responsible for HTML, CSS and JavaScript is more or less a front-end development role. Where as the programming focused technologies such as Java are server-side developer roles. MySQL is service-side but it can also fit into a more refined category of database administration. Than you list Photoshop, which would be sued to create design mock-ups in a more graphic design role, through this could fit into the responsibility of a front-developer. However, in most cases a front-developer role will involve taking a design mock-up created by someone else and translating it into a web experience using the client-side and server-side technologies. Flash, is a whole another beast, entirly, In most cases if you really would like to focus on flash than you should become a export with it and look for jobs that are specifically looking for flash developers. Eclipse, is a development environment, just a IDE which can easily be replaced by something else depending on work flow. My recommendation would be to narrow your focus based on your current skill set and past experience. It looks like your more interested in the design aspect, yet enjoy building things so I would recommend focusing on front-end and UX design opportunities.

I worked as a web design assistant at a university (a student job) while majoring in computer science. I learned a lot of things through my classes, predominately material using Java and C using Eclipse as an IDE and used Redhat a few times. But I also learned a lot of stuff from my student job. Before taking the job I only knew html and css (self taught), but I was able to learn a little bit of everything from software like flash, dreamweaver and photoshop, to languages like actionscript, ASP, javascript, and SQL… I realize although I know programming languages pretty well, I have more fun with scripting languages and stuff on web design/development in general.

Telling by what everyone else is saying, I think I should stick to the web development title since I do enjoy designing frontend most, and maybe even mention it in my cover letters.

Thanks everyone for your input btw! :]

Make a choice. Think the areas that you think you must excel better, it is in web designing or web programming? Then, decide. :slight_smile:

Good luck mate.

It depends on what you consider you main focus to be. Me personally i think of those who focus on more client-side stuff (HTML, CSS, javascript, etc) to be Web Designers and those who focus more on server-side stuff (PHP, .net, etc) to be Web Developers. I;m not sure what I would class someone who has an equal focus on both client-side and server-side, though I guess I would class them as a web developer.

Over time, these are basic definitions I’ve gradually adopted:

Web Designer
Essentially someone who works on the look and feel of websites (whether a graphic designer or not), with a decent grasp of HTML and CSS but not a lot more.

Front-end Developer
Someone who is well versed in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Back-end Developer
Someone who specializes in server-side programming (PHP etc.)

Of course, someone might cover more than one of these areas. Someone who knows front-end and back-end development I call simply a ‘web developer’. If said person was proficient in design, I’d call that person a ‘web designer/developer’. Someone proficient in design and front-end development I’d call ‘web designer/front-end developer’. And so on. I don’t think it’s too much of a mouthful to join those roles. People in other fields can have much longer job descriptions. :slight_smile:

I consider the term ‘webmaster’ to be a bit old hat. Sounds like something from the '90s that just doesn’t work any more.

In my personal view, Web Designer is a person who are skillful in designing a fancy website, a person who are creative. Web Developer is a person who use template to develop a static website without fancy features on the website. These 2 can be 2 different business nature :slight_smile:

Programming skills is an added skills for the web designer / web developer to build a complete website. Sames as photography skills, these may help you to generate more sales apart of designing.

You have thought too many things. Find only a skill that you are more confident with and expand from it. Don’t mess up your skills.

I’m now happily employed with a great company as a Web Developer, but I was unemployed / freelancing for over a year before that. So this is definitely an important consideration. However, it’s definitely not the only one. Just like you did, I list EVERYTHING I can do on a resume. If you don’t tell people what you can do, they’ll never know.

However, you don’t want to misrepresent yourself either. Note your skill level with each technology honestly (I cite how many years experience I have, but you can note proficient/advanced/whatever). You don’t want to get called into an interview where you know you’re going to crash and burn. It’s hard enough to keep your spirits up in this economy and you have to apply for so many positions and do so many interviews that you don’t have time (or self-esteem) to waste on positions you’re not competant to do.

One last consideration on this front is what you want to do. If you’ve got five years of XML experience, but it makes you want to put a bullet through your head, put it way down on your list. And while you may apply for positions you’re not really thrilled about because they’ll require you to use some of those skills, don’t go applying for an “XML Programmer” position, and if it turns out that the “Web Developer” position that sounded good on Craigslist is 90% XML programming, tell them that’s not your apptitude. They’ll be as happy as you are not to to hire a miserable employee. Conversely if there’s something your really interested in, be objective about your skills but go after it. If you’re new to AJAX but love it, go after JS programmer and F2E positions selling yourself on your background with your stronger technologies and your enthusiasm for AJAX. Just don’t go after any Senior Developer positions.

I would probably go with Front End Developer (the typical and well understood title in my area). F2E (Front End Engineer) is the “hot” new title, but a lot of people won’t know what you’re talking about. That’s especially problem in HR departments, and since they screen everyone before the tech people even look at your stuff, that’s a huge disadvantage. But it might be an acronym you drop in the interview.

Cover letters are definitely key, BTW. I had a generic one written up of about 3-4 pages, much more than I needed. For each job I submitted my standard resume, and tailored a 2page cover letter by dropping irrelevant paragraphs, modifying others, and writing completely new ones as necessary.

OK, this is kind of interesting from a geeky perspective so I’ll throw in my 2cents based on recent experience.

Webmaster isn’t an old term, but it’s not a term you want to be associated with. The ads I’ve seen use it interchangably with web admin, systems administrator, and similar titles. They are positions responsible for maintaining websites and you are far more likely to spend your days writing copy. Coding and design skills are frequently considered a bonus and may help you get a foot in the door to the hiring manager. However, they are not expected and the positions have salaries which reflect that (lack of) skill level.

Web Designer is an incredibly broad term. However, more and more it’s seems to be used to mean someone highly artistic. While Ralph is correct that they typically lack a programming language, they’re no less valued for it. They’re expected know XHTML, be CSS masters working expertly and quickly, as well as knowing Photoshop tricks and shortcuts inside out. Some know audio and / or video editing, some know Flash; these multimedia skills aren’t required but make you significantly more desirable. In many circles, Web Designers still include the UI Designer positions you mentioned, though it’s giving way to UX (User Experience) and HCI (Human-Computer Interation) alphabet soup. These can be high-level positions, but for example, the UX Designer on my current team hardly ever touches a line of code. 90% of her time is spent in Photoshop creating comps or Flash Catalyst creating interactive demos.

Front End Developer includes XHTML and CSS, but more importantly it describes the new generation of jQuery enabled large-scale JS/AJAX application coders. jQuery, AJAX, and JSON have matured and you will even find some JS Programmer / Developer positions that focus entirely on application development.

Back End Developer or Server Side Developer are terms which seem to be on the way out in favor of the simpler Web Developer. Variations are usually based on the technology stack, e.g. .NET Developer, PHP Developer, Java Developer, etc.

I’ve interviewed and hired a lot of people, and here’s the best advice that I can give you (and which most applicants don’t seem to get): what you call yourself and what you put on your CV depends entirely on what job or area of work or type of clientele you are after.

If you are intending, for example, to build websites for people who don’t know much about websites (individuals, small businesses, and so on), call yourself a web designer, because that’s what they think they want. Mainly, these clients know nothing about the front-end and back-end programming skills you will be employing, and they don’t care. But if you’re applying for a job at an agency or a big employer, look exactly at what they want and call yourself that. PHP developer. Front-end developer. Whatever.

Of course, this all depends on you being able to actually justify that description. If you call yourself a designer and you can’t design, you’re in trouble. If you call yourself a back-end developer and most of your skills are in front-end then you’re in trouble.

I personally offer ‘web design and development’ skills, which incorporate everything from design and front/back-end development to information architecture, project management, and content writing. But my clients just want a website that works, so why confuse them with terms they’re not familiar with?

Obviously, if you’ve been previously employed with the title ‘web developer’, that’s what you have to say on your CV. But you then explain the skills you had and work you did.

By the way, I agree with ralph.m. Don’t call yourself a web master. My experience is that most people who call themselves web masters have little in the way of design or development skills. They are better described as content managers, or something like that. Obviously there are exceptions.

If we’re throwing out definitions then this is how I would define job roles at my company:

Web Designer: A web designer deals with the front-end of the website. In this day and age I would expect most Web Designers that work within a company to have the knowledge and ability to do the front-end coding as well.

Web Developer: The person who works on the back-end code, and may occasionally dabble in a bit of front-end stuff, notably JavaScript or any other dynamic elements. They also tend to lay down the coding conventions, source control, etc.

Honestly, I think that times have moved on enough to allow designer to work on the design of the page and for developers to develop the functionality. It’s a simple definition for not-so-simple roles and it’s worked every time for me.

I think there are a lot of good answers here, but I’m just going to throw one more thing in for your consideration. You do need to slap some kind of label on yourself, but it’s also important to define that label explicitly for yourself and others.

I call myself a web developer. To me, that means front-end development with HTML, CSS and javascript, strong consideration of usability and accessibility issues, very strong writing and communication skills, and some essential understanding of ColdFusion and some other more common server-side languages and conventions.

That’s a lot, maybe too much for one person, and very often in the real world those tasks are divided among several people. Knowing what those other people are doing is important, though, and that helps you to interact with them in a way that helps everyone to get the job done efficiently.

So yeah, pick a title. Then be prepared to tell what that title means to you at this stage in your career, and be willing to learn more about some of the related disciplines.

I think its important to differentiate between web designer, front-end developer and back-end developer. Each role has a very specific purpose and while these is overlap a person who is a web designer rarely can suit the needs of a front-end development role.

That said, when I hear the term web designer the responsibilities that come to mind are creation of static mock-ups and light CSS and HTML without integration into a dynamic work flow such as; content management system or framework.

On the other hand, a front-end web developer has a complete understanding of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. In addition they have at least an intermediate understanding of the application language(s) being used. In most cases you will not find a front-end developer dabbling around with static sites but large application based web presences that are dynamic. The front-end developer is the bridge between the aesthetic and functional for dynamic web presences.

Lastly, back-end developers work primarily on features having a complete understanding of the application language in use and persistent storage mechanisms being utilized such as; MySQL, Oracle, etc. Essentially they set the ground work for what the front-developer will come back through and clean-up as necessary to achieve specific design or usability goals in terms of modifying template/view level application programming and HTML.

In an industry where creativity is paramount using some creativity in your job title can actually be a good thing. That said, don’t worry about using the standard webmaster or developer and try something more interesting.

According to me “web expert” is appropriate, becoz it includes everything related to web…(web designer, web developer etc):

Id go with web developer if i were you.:slight_smile: