I’m a Web Designer

Andy Bell

Something that I am increasingly uncomfortable with is our industry’s obsession with job titles. I understand that the landscape has gotten a lot more complex than when I started out in 2009, but I do think the sheer volume and variation in titles isn’t overly helpful in communicating what people actually do.

I struggled with how to place myself when I went back to freelancing last year because I’m both a designer and a developer. I toyed with “Independent Designer & Developer” which worked out alright but did make me sound like a bit of a “Jack of all trades”. I’m also technically “Full Stack”, but I won’t use that as a title because in my head, a Full Stack Developer is a back-end developer who knows a bit of client-side JavaScript and CSS.

I’ve always battled with this sort of stuff in various roles I’ve had, where on paper, I’ve been a “Senior Developer” or a “Senior Engineer”, but I’ve referred myself as a “Developer” instead—mainly out of embarrassment. I still to this day cringe at email signatures that I’ve been forced to have over the years.

I was part of a conversation recently about this sort of thing and the title “Web Designer” came up. I thought to myself that’s exactly what I am and promptly changed my Twitter bio. “Web Designer” has received some snark over the years as people probably picture someone wrestling with Dreamweaver design view, but I think it perfectly describes someone like me, who designs and codes. Will it give off the wrong message about what I do day-to-day like write modern JavaScript and work on design systems? Quite possibly, but in this—2019—the year where personal sites are on the comeback, I’m feeling rather nostalgic for the web of old.

Maybe an old job title like “Web Designer” can start to make a comeback, too. Everything that’s old is new again, after all.