Job Titles

  • Web developer – does HTML and CSS, focused on presenting information to the user.
  • Web components developer – focuses on creating reusable UI elements for web pages or applications.
  • Frontend web application developer – does business logic that runs on the browser.
  • Frontend web client developer – focuses on how the fronted application communicates with the server.
  • Backend web developer – does HTTP, servers, etc. Focuses on how the server interacts with the client.
  • Backend web application developer – does business logic that runs on the server.
  • Database developer – focuses on using the database to store and retrieve data; expert on SQL, queries, indexes, etc.
  • Database administrator – controls the overall structure of the database; expert on database performance, partitioning, replication, backup/restore, etc.

A “jack of all trades, master of none” developer who is equally skilled in every position is likely to be unacceptably weak at everything. Most developers have one or two central skill areas, and diminishing capabilities as you move outward from that.

A developer who is highly skilled in one area is likely to be acceptable in adjacent areas, but won’t be as good as an expert. The further apart two areas are, the less likely it is that a developer who is an expert in one will be able to perform adequately in another. A developer who’s good at one area is also likely to be able to pick up adjacent areas if that’s needed. In no case, however, can you assume an expert in one area is also an expert in an adjacent area.

Because developers have overlaps in skills, you can probably fill a team with two or three types of positions, as long as they are widely separated so every area is close to one of them. You don’t really need 8 developers on every team. But, if you decide you’re weak in one area, being more upfront about what you’re looking for is going to get better candidates. If you’ve hired a bunch of web application developers, and now you need an HTTP expert, advertise for one. If you think what you really need is someone to write and organize application logic, de-weight the HTTP questions in your interview process. You don’t need them, and a good application developer can pick it up on the fly.


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