Kinds of Web Developers

Web development today is a broad field. It has changed much since I first started to learn HTML in the 1990s and create websites that it is almost unrecognizable. For one thing, it is now a part of almost every industry. I can’t imagine any business – from the local pizza shop to an industry leader – not having a website (possibly multiple websites) and a strong social media presence.

Some of the biggest changes I have seen came from the rise of mobile, faster bandwidths and cloud-based software.

But I still have people ask me when they hear that one thing I do is web development is “What does web development mean?” It’s a tough question because it varies so widely. Web developers design and create websites, and applications, use cloud-based software, maintain sites and handle the technical aspects of a site’s function.

For that local pizza shop, all that may be done by one outsourced company or even one person, but for large companies, all of that entails large departments with the work being specialized and handled by different individuals.

When I started building websites in the 1990s, it was for myself. Next, came websites for the school district where I worked. When I moved to work at a university, I became part of a team and had specific parts of the very large website that I was responsible for maintaining and designing.

Today I would put developers into some general categories.

Back-end web developers handle the technical construction of a website. They create the basic framework of a website. If you’re using a platform like WordPress, they do most of the back-end.

Front-end web developers are responsible for how a website looks. They do the layout, incorporate graphics, and applications for things like e-commerce.

Full stack web developers manage both the front- and back-end of a website or application and are good choices for smaller businesses.

API (Application Programming Interface) developers allow applications to access data and interact with other external software or operating systems. This is critical to the online processes businesses use.

UI/UX developers specialize in the user interface and user experience and creating an online customer experience that is both visually appealing and functional.

Web Design By Category


Instagram during the pandemic via


I have some designs and content lists I use based on categories. For example, I have done several writer’s sites (especially poets) and ones for artists and photographers. Each has some unique needs. Artists and photographers obviously want to feature their images – and also protect the images so that they won’t be downloaded at high quality and used without permission. It’s hard to fully protect images other than watermarking them because it is so easy to do screen grabs. So, designers will use smaller or lower-quality images and perhaps code to disallow right-click saving.

Writers probably want to show some of their writing – an excerpt of prose and maybe a few poem samples. As with images, it’s hard to fully prevent copying of text and that may be the cost of being online. You can make a page of text into an image to prevent quick copy and paste of the text, but you may also want to share your work and sometimes even encourage sharing via social media links.

During these two COVID-19 pandemic years, many restaurants found their website more important than ever. It may have needed an upgrade to allow for placing online and takeout orders. Menus and hours may have changed. They may have wanted to include information about the safety measures in place.

I haven’t worked on any restaurant sites in a few years but I read this article on designing restaurant websites which has an eye to the special needs of that category and to what the pandemic may have changed. Small things like adding a pop-up info box or notification bar on your home page so that that you can feature changing elements (like hours, availability, or even staffing needs) is one design element that may have been needed.

I know that my local favorite coffee place, Cedar Beans Coffee Joint in Cedar Grove, New Jersey – added information (shown below) in a notification bar to its already well-designed website.

“Excited to announce 100% capacity indoors with masks optional in NJ. We are also operating with curbside delivery and walk-ups in the store. Please continue to utilize the MyCoffeeHelper app to place your orders (it’s fun!).
Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay informed about events, and promotions.”

They added the app for ordering quick and contactless pickup in the worst of these pandemic times, notifications about policy changes, and they have an email option for updates that is always useful, along with a very dynamic social media presence.

It helps that the Cedar Beans’ owner is Dave Fletcher who also runs a digital branding agency, The Mechanism, and so was well aware of what needed to be done.

Design by categories is a good approach and it always includes taking a close look at what your direct competitors as well as what others in your category are doing as best practices.