Career Paths on the Web Design Industry

Do you want to make a career in the Web Design industry?

If you do, you will soon realize that the field has evolved fast and now there are many ways to get a job in the industry. From a hardcore PHP coder to a UX designer, there is a ton of skill combinations that will land you a position in the industry.

So, let’s dig in and start unraveling the mysteries of the Web industry.

The Skills Spectrum Needed in the Industry

Working in web design requires a combination of design skills and development skills.

What do we mean by each one?

Design skills are all those abilities related to creating the appearance of a website. You must be proficient in color theory, composition (spacing, balance, interaction of shapes), typography, and imagery.

The first web designers were graphic designers that made the transition from print to the world of computers. Now, it is a career by itself.

The second set of skills are called Development Skills, and are those related to the implementation of a website. They go from the markup language used by browsers to render content (HTML), design elements (CSS) and functionality itself via programming languages (PHP, ASP, Ruby, or Python) and database management.

In practice, most web designer/developers tend to lean into one side or the other, which determines the career path they take.

What Career Paths Can You Follow?

The balance between your design and development skills is key for selecting the right job position.

In the next figure I summarized the most common job titles and what side of the spectrum they lean on.

The skill spectrum for the Web Industry professional.

Now, let’s get some details.

Web Development Career Options

There are three major career paths for those with strong abilities in the development side of the Web Industry.

1. Back End Developer. This is a professional whose sole focus in web development. He does no design at all, and some times is referred as a Web App Developer as well.

What are her core competencies? In no order, they are:

  • Proficiency in Web Languages: PHP, ASP, Ruby, Python.
  • Software Design Practices
  • Server Programming. Usually Linux/Unix and sometimes Windows Servers as well.
  • Database Design. MySQL and other forms of database programming.

2. Front End Developer. These are professionals that have strong programming  skills but they can do some basic design. They are the core implementers of the Web Team, and are quite good in HTML, CSS, and JavasScript.


3. Full Stack Developer. If you want to improve your chances to land a job at a design firm, become a full stack developer.

This is a professional capable of performing both the tasks of a front or back developer. They are skilled in the whole implementation chain, and they can advance to leadership positions within the ranks of the firm.

Web Design Career Options

If you feel more attune with the design aspect of the web job, there are several options for you as well.

4. UX Designer. A User eXperience Designer is someone in charge of creating and studying the interactions of a user.

He must include visual cues to guide the visitor through the information presented by the website, and take care of usability aspects such as accessibility for people with different capabilities (visual and auditive if the site uses multimedia).

5. UI Designer. A User Interface Designer is a professional whose sole purpose is to create the graphic elements that allow the website to interact with its visitors.

He designs the layout, select the colors, imagery, buttons, input text boxes, and all other elements that will give visual unity to the site.

Although he may have to code a little bit in HTML and CSS, his main competencies are the tools of design: Photoshop and inDesign, or any equivalent piece of software.

Is There Someone In The Middle?

Of course there is a career path for someone that enjoys performing tasks that involve programming or database design and graphic design and color selection as well.

She is called a Web Designer

6. Web Developer. This is a professional that balances skills of both ends of the spectrum: both development and design skills.

A web developer is the one that decides and implements a website solution. In other words, he decides how it looks and what it does.

He must have competencies in:

  • Graphic Design
  • Front End Development
  • Some Back End Development

Many web designers do most of the work related to a web project except by server and database design, which sometimes are taken by an IT specialist.

Final Words

So, if you are interested in following any of the paths that will take you to the Web Industry, or maybe you are already working in the field and would like to know your options, we hope that this article had enlighten you and push you in the right direction.