The different skills involved in web development

Website production is much more than just design

To the layman, the term ‘web design’ is often used to cover the full production process of a website. However, in truth, there are usually at least three distinct types of production work needed for successful web development.

The majority of people using a website tend to focus purely on the design or the Graphic User Interface (GUI) – both of which are important – but there is also a significant amount of underlying programming needed to power web productions. Indeed, many web projects require multiple teams of different experts to reach completion.

In the main, web developers can be broken down into four distinct types – although, it’s not uncommon for some developers to be multi-disciplinary and possess cross-over skills.

Back-end developers

The back-end developers in a project are responsible for building the software architecture required to run a website or web-based platform. Although pre-built Content Management Systems (CMS) are becoming more common these days, many still need additional coding to power the specific functions required by a website.

Back-end developers are experienced programmers, often accomplished in various coding languages. They have the skills to write the nuts and bolts programming that often goes unnoticed by users.

Content/marketing/SEO experts

As you might expect, these developers are focused mostly on the content of a site – and finding ways to optimize pages so they can be found in search engines. In recent years, as the number of sites and pages online has continued to increase, the marketing aspect of a project has become crucial in attracting new users and building a website’s prominence online.

Indeed, one particular aspect of web marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), has become so important, it’s resulted in the birth of an entirely new industry. SEO refers to the techniques used to propel a website to the top of the search listings under terms people are likely to use to find that type of content. Specialist companies like are staffed SEO specialists, skilled in the techniques to get a site to the top of the search tree.

Front-end developers

Often referred to as web designers, a front-end developer is concerned with designing the graphics and GUI of a website. Usually, they will have come from an art or design background, transferring their skills over to interactive media production. Front-end developers commonly also possess basic programming skills, e.g. Java, HTML, CSS, etc. to help them in the design process.

A good designer should also possess information architecture skills and be able to plan how a site will be structured to allow users to get to find information quickly. They should also have a good understanding of image editing and optimization.

Front-end developers frequently receive the majority of the praise in web projects, since their work is the most immediately noticeable by users.

Full-stack developers

Full-stack developers are capable of writing complex software applications from scratch, such that they require no additional applications to run. The resulting platforms are often referred to as being ‘stand-alone’ and are almost always designed from the ground-up in bespoke projects. For example, web applications like will have required a team of highly-skilled full-stack developers.