Why I no longer call myself a “web designer”

Want to know why it’s important to listen to your clients? They can tell you where your business is going.

Many moons ago, one of my former clients had it right. I am more about function than form.

My philosophy has morphed over the past few years. Of course everyone wants a pretty site, but what’s the point if it doesn’t work?

I haven’t truly “designed” in several years. Lately, I have been taking the designs of others and translating them to work online. Some designs convert well; others have their challenges.

I am producing online work by programming and coding mostly. This is why I recently revamped my services.

Which is why now I ask prospective clients if they have a design in place. If not, I recommend a few designers to get in touch with.

It’s amazing how much easier business becomes when you are clear about you and your services.

What have your clients told you that you are finally listening to? Or maybe should be listening to?

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9 thoughts on “Why I no longer call myself a “web designer”

  1. Seth Erickson


    Thank you for realizing that distinction. There are so many “Web Developers” who call themselves web designers but they aren’t designing anything. This leads to a lot of client confusion when they are looking for someone. I often tell people I’m in web design and they think I code and in reality I haven’t coded for years.

    Hopefully others will read this post and start to better distinguish themselves in their market with more accurate names instead of taking a generic monicker. Thanks again for taking the time to share your insights.


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  3. Laura

    Trust me, there are so many people who don’t know the difference between a web designer and web app developer. Even fewer who’d recognize the finer distinction between pure web designer and backend web coder. Scary part? Most of the ignorance I’ve seen on these points are from the recruiters trying to fill positions in each of these fields.


    A bigger issue here is that many clients do not want to even hear about the distinctions and want someone to “do everything” including e-commerce, content and e-mail marketing. If it has something to do with “the web” they want you to do it. And many claim they can (Hence, the proliferation of the terrible cookie-cutter “flash” web page).

    I don’t know if this is a “cat out of the bag” situation or if there is a way to better educate potential clients. After all, would someone expect a podiatrist to perform brain surgery, just because they both have “Dr.” in their titles?

    1. Rhonda Michelle Steward

      Noreen, you really nailed it here. The bigger issue indeed is that digital is incredibly encompassing and the broad population simply doesn’t understand the distinction. This is likely due to the fact that our industry is still so relatively new as a whole and layered on top of that it’s rapidly developing and changing. 2-3 years ago we didn’t have “Social Media Strategists” and the many other very legitimate job functions that require a certain skill set. A big part of what I really enjoy about our industry is that it challenges you to use so many parts of your self ~ *both* parts of your brain and your intuition. There is always something new to learn and apply.

      At the end of day it is about us being the ones to speak up and discuss the distinctions and educate the broad population.

      Great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts Stephanie.

  5. Dot

    What is hard is that high school/college age hobby developers are good enough for most businesses these days. They do not really care about design if it is going to cost them more money. I do get it. People are afraid to spend money if their business is slow but they don’t work that cheap. America, at least, is not a haggling culture but our businesses are working with cultures that do. Recruiters are doing their best if they know the difference between design and programming at all.

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