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What's the Difference between a Webmaster, a Web Designer, a Web Developer?

The web industry has expanded since the nineties, and every few years, new specializations crop up as web technologies get more complex and just too much for one individual to digest.

A lot more often, people outside the industry would put us under the all encompassing general term of “Website Designer”. Scott Vandehey of SpaceNinja divides the industry between designers and developers.

I say there’s a lot more task divisions to be made.

For simplicities sake, I’m only using the male gender for personal pronouns.

Cast of Characters

The Webmaster

The Webmaster is a relic from 10 years ago, when web pages and applications were simple enough for one to handle. He has some design artistry, some coding skills, some writing skills and some client handling skills. He is the god of the site, everybody else bows before him.

The Web Producer

He has a broad knowledge of the web. Having been a Webmaster from his previous life, he has a deeper understanding of the web and all its intricacies from TCP/IP to Photoshop. Having keen attention to detail and a desire to please the client and end-users, he does not compromise for quality and a good user experience.

His main tasks are to liaise between the Client, the Boss, the Web Designer, the Web Developer, the Information Architect, the Web Strategist,  Search Engine Strategist and make sure they don’t kill each other during the process of building a website.

The Web Producers Organization or WPO describes web production as “interactive media management”.

The IA or Information Architect

The IA is a very good organizer and planner.

The IA is in charge of the user experience in terms of leading the user to where the would want to get to. Website visitors don’t think (or doesn’t want to) and clicks through the least path of resistance to get to the information they need.

The Web Designer

The Web Designer needs no introduction. Naturally gifted with artistic eyes and flowing hands, he is highly creative and weird. He’s definitely a music lover and movie buff, throw in the occasional comic book and mangas.

His main task is to produce a design using the Information Architect’s layout and the Web Developer’s demands, and the Client’s insane art direction into a cohesive design that everyone will appreciate.

The XHTML / CSS Rockstar

He is a cross between the Web Designer and the Web Developer, having a good design taste and intermediate coding skills. He slices and dices PSD design files from the Web Designer and passes them on to the Web Developer.

He owes his job to W3C compliance and cross browser incompatibilities. He bows down to Eric Meyer , Douglas Bowman, Jon Hicks, and Michael Heilemann.

The Web Developer

There are many different flavors of Web Developers. There’s the Microsoft junkie who prefers his ASP, the Ruby on Rails wizard who is the Web2.0 celebrity coder, the Java coder who could be extinct for all i know, and the PHP developer, the most widely used web development language.

He is responsible for all the wonderful thigs that happen on a website which you normally take for granted such as site search, content management systems, e-commerce systems etc.

The Web Analyst

The Web Analyst is a very business oriented person, enthusiastic about data, its analysis, and reporting. He is very good at extracting insight from internet usage patternsand trends.

His job is to optimize website usage via collecting, measuring, analyzing and reporting Internet data.

More information can be found at The Web Analytics Association and at Hurol Inan’s.

The Web Strategist

He is the blue chip webmaster. The Web Strategist emerged from the design, development or business side. He is able to combine all three disciplines and come up with a unique skillset for planning the long-term strategy of a website.

His tasks are to plan and oversee user experience, marketing, analysis, and development. For more information, visit Jeremiah Owyang’s article about the Three Spheres of Web Strategy.

The Search Engine Strategist

The Search Engine Strategist shares many titles such as SEO Specialist, Search Engine Marketer (SEM), Internet Marketer. This role is sometimes even divided into SEO and SEM. SEO takes care of optimization techniques for search engines while the SEM handles the ad campaigns.

The Search Engine Strategist (SES) is glued to his RSS reader following the ever changing realm of Search (Google) and their algorithms. Constantly looking for the best technique to promote website s while maintaining ethics and proper conduct.

The Content Developer

Just another title for “Writer” with a web flair.

So there you go! Hope I covered every role and didn’t miss anything!

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