How to Get the Right Help: Job Titles in Web Design - dummies

How to Get the Right Help: Job Titles in Web Design

By David Karlins, Doug Sahlin

You might hire help for your projects for many different reasons, but job titles in the web-design industry vary greatly and even overlap. For instance, a web/new media designer and project manager might both be dubbed “producer.” When interviewing people, ask them what their actual experience is and don’t rely solely on their job title.

An effective way of working is to establish relationships with individuals or companies that provide the services you need. After you find people you can work with, you can quickly build project teams that are tailored to the needs of your client. Your “regulars” can develop a smooth workflow. You will also expand the size and scope of projects you take on.

Project managers for web design

A project manager for a web project — like the project manager for any project — keeps everyone on the same path and makes sure issues are dealt with as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The project manager should be organized and detail-oriented enough to responsibly do the following: make sure members of the team are meeting deadlines, keep track of hours spent on the project, and inform team members of situations that might affect them.

A web project manager needs to know about the workflow and time traps that can accompany the type of project you’re planning. Experience working with creative individuals is also important because a project manager must understand each individual’s needs concerning workflow and how materials are to be delivered (both to and from team members).

The project manager also has to estimate the time needed to complete different types of projects. Familiarity with industry standards and terms can help the project manager when dealing with professional designers. In some environments, the web project manager is sometimes referred to as a “producer.”

Web designer/new media designer

A true web designer knows how to hand-code HTML and CSS and might know some other scripting technologies, such as JavaScript. Web designers are also responsible for the visual design of the interface, creation of graphics, and optimization (resizing and compressing them for web use) of photos.

Watch out for web designers who “don’t do” code. Web designers who downplay the importance of strong HTML and CSS skills aren’t really web designers. They’re graphic designers who make graphics that coders can use to create web pages.

It will save you time, money, and aggravation if you shop around for someone who can take care of the whole job, as opposed to someone who needs other members of the team to complete the tasks of creating the interfaces.

Web developer/programmer

Web developers and programmers design and create the back-end systems that make your site do more than just deliver static information. A back-end system refers to databases and programming that are stored on the web hosting server and are used by the website. If you need or want your website to interact with site visitors, you need databases and the supporting programming to be in place.

Like with web designers, the importance of a good developer is often misunderstood. The availability of point-and-click development tools gives some people the impression that it’s simple and easy to create databases and web pages that will work with them.

These easy-to-use tools are generally fairly limited in what they can do, though. If the site will have a lot of people interacting with it or if people will be performing complicated functions on the site, hire developers to build your system for you.

If you want to add shopping functionality, you need developers who understand how to make a safe, secure, and easy-to-use site, or users won’t buy the advertised products.

Content developer/writer

A good content developer or web writer understands that writing for the web is different than writing for other media because visitors interact with websites differently than they do with traditional, printed materials.

When looking for web writers, you want to hire someone who can deliver the following:

  • Easy-to-understand information: Look for a writer who can deliver concise text that has a good tone for the web. Most successful web sites have a more conversational tone.

  • A good call to action: A good web writer can get a site’s users to act. Every site has a goal, but without a good call to action, users might not perform the tasks you want them to while on the site.

  • Organization: Content developers must understand how to create a flow of information and leverage the nature of the web to provide users and site owners with the best results.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Content developers must know how to create text and meta tags that enable users to find the site through search engines.


Hosting is a service usually provided by a third party. Web hosts own web servers, which are computers with server software installed and that are connected to the Internet. For a fee, the owner of the server — the host — allows you to copy your website files to the web server so that they’re accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.

In addition to owning servers and renting space, web hosts maintain the servers. They might also provide additional software that tracks the number of visitors your site has. Many web hosts also offer URL (Uniform Resource Locator) purchasing services.