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The Traditional Web Designer is Dying

June 23, 2014

web design


Every so often, major changes happen in the web design world. Over the last few years, the traditional web designer has been slaughtered!

“… He’s dead Jim.” Leonard McCoy (Star Trek character)

What has emerged from the ashes of our deceased friend?

In a nutshell, web designers have to become what I would call: web developers, who specialize in the front-end.

Modern day web design now requires a much more sophisticated understanding of the web technology than just 5-6 years ago. This how the profession of web designer has changed:

  1. 1990’s – 2000: No code required. Just crack open Photoshop and Dreamweaver and you didn’t need to know much about HTML and CSS. In fact, tools like Dreamweaver catered to the code illiterate crowd.
  2. 2000 – 2012: The web standards movement took place and forced web designers to learn code .. basically HTML and CSS. Not only did they have to learn to code, they needed to write good code.
  3. 2012 + : the Web itself has become much more advanced. Web designers have to understand how their sites work on tablets, phones and traditional computers. Static sites with no functionality are increasingly rare – you need to be able to create sites that do more than just be online brochures! This requires that you become a type of web developer.

There are 2 Types of  Web Developers

Web developers can either specialize in the back-end or the front-end. Back-end web developers are the old-school web programmers – they are the people who write code in languages like:

  • php
  • ruby
  • java
  • C# (

… etc.

They create the database driven connectivity. When you connect web pages to databases, you are creating database driven websites.

Front-end web developers are modern day web designers

It’s called ‘front-end’ because it is the visual side of the website – the side that people see.

These are the people responsible for the way websites look. But these days, the front-end work has a lot more to do than just the look of a site. As mentioned above, today web designers have to be web developers – meaning that you must know code and SOME programming. Another common way to refer to front-end web developers is UI (user interface) designer or UX (user experience) designer.

Death of Traditional Web Design

Web designers who don’t know code and programming, are having a harder and harder time finding work these days – I hear it all the time. If you are a traditional web designer, it’s time to modernize your skills and get into some JavaScript and PHP. It’s time to learn JQuery, Bootstrap and WordPress. It’s time to become a web developer.

In the end, you will earn more, be more respected and you will probably have  a lot more fun!

Stefan Mischook