Web Designers and Developers - What They Do

Web designers and developers research, design, develop and produce Internet and Intranet sites. They are employed in computer software development firms, information technology consulting firms, information technology units throughout the private and public sectors, advertising agencies or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Consult with clients to develop and document Web site requirements
  • Prepare mock-ups and storyboards
  • Develop Web site architecture and determine hardware and software requirements
  • Source, select and organize information for inclusion and design the appearance, layout and flow of the Web site
  • Create and optimize content for the Web site using a variety of graphics, database, animation and other software
  • Plan, design, write, modify, integrate and test Web site related code
  • Conduct tests and perform security and quality controls
  • May lead and co-ordinate multidisciplinary teams to develop Web site graphics, content, capacity and interactivity
  • May research and evaluate a variety of interactive media software products.

Job titles

  • Webmaster
  • Web manager
  • Web developer
  • Internet site designer
  • Internet site developer
  • Intranet site designer
  • Web designer
  • Web site developer
  • e-business Web site developer
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • A bachelor's degree, usually in computer science, communications or business or Completion of a college program in computer science, graphic arts, Web design or business is required.
  • Experience as a computer programmer or graphic designer is usually required.

Essential Skills


  • Read descriptions, directions and explanations on work orders for details of jobs such as modifications to web pages. (1)
  • Read e-mail for details of web page design ideas, feedback on web designs, meeting arrangements and ongoing projects from supervisors, clients and graphic artists. (2)
  • Read and interpret requests for proposals, project proposals and web design and development contracts. They read to understand the full text and then refer to locate details such as technical specifications, timeframes, project objectives and costs. They may also read confidentiality and copyright agreements. (3)
  • Read clients' company policies, regulations and governing principles. For example, they read policies on corporate identity and privacy to ensure that all regulations are being met when they develop or modify Internet and intranet sites. (3)
  • Read trade publications such as Communication Arts and Vice. They read to stay abreast of emerging trends, technologies and issues in web design, development and programming. For example, they read research articles about users' reactions to different web interfaces. (3)
  • Read software and programming manuals, textbooks and on-line tutorials. They may initially read manuals cover-to-cover and then refer to specific troubleshooting, installation and usage instructions. For example, they read on-line tutorials when learning how to use new programs such as Vector graphics. (4)
  • Read descriptive and explanatory text in reports when making design and structural changes to Internet and intranet sites. For example, they read monthly and semi-annual web traffic reports that outline changes in usage and explain data and trends. The text is dense with content-specific terminology and may require interpretation to apply to specific Internet and intranet sites. (4)

Document use

  • Scan computer hardware labels for types, models, serial numbers, voltages and other data. (1)
  • Locate dates, hours, web site visits and other data in lists and tables. For example, they scan spreadsheets to locate the number of hours spent on projects and project deadlines when setting job priorities and assigning tasks. They also use data and speed linkage tables to determine how well sites are functioning. (2)
  • Complete and verify information on forms such as timesheets, customer information and requisition forms, and cost estimate sheets. They check off items and enter details such as dates, web use data and brief explanations of changes and modifications. They also verify information such as costs, dates, lists of items and brief explanatory text on update and approval forms, invoices and requisitions before starting web design and development jobs. (2)
  • Locate and review specific data on graphs such as bar and pie charts. For example, they may review monthly web traffic bar graphs and frequency distribution pie charts when monitoring web sites for usage and performance. (3)
  • Review web flowcharts and storyboards to understand the flow of web page navigation and identify how to link pages, frames and web sites, and improve the flow. (3)
  • Analyze the design of web pages to identify design elements and evaluate visual appeal. For example, they review the size, location and colour of design features to make sure that pages are visually appealing and not too crowded. (4)


  • Write brief notes and messages to record key points and web page changes. They place comments into computer code to let others know what particular lines of code do or to explain programs' operations. (1)
  • Write e-mail to clients and supervisors on a variety of topics. For example, they write messages to provide project updates, request clarification of change orders and request comments about web designs. (2)
  • May write new sections and updates to company policies covering matters such as web site publication and approval procedures for new web pages. They strive to write policies clearly and explicitly so that co-workers and client companies' staff can easily understand them. (3)
  • Write brief web site overview and evaluation reports. For example, they may prepare web site reviews, which outline equipment and computer software requirements, content revision suggestions and web page design changes. (3)
  • Prepare training and support materials for clients and co-workers. For example, they may write user support documents for uploading data, updating web sites and troubleshooting web site functioning. They write web site maintenance and troubleshooting guidelines and training and support materials geared towards users' skill levels. (3)
  • May write and edit short texts posted on Internet and intranet sites. They may create or revise web site content to achieve a tone and style, which will appeal to specific target audiences and suit their purposes. They also research and integrate information provided by clients to create compelling texts for the sites. (3)
  • Write a variety of reports such as web site project summaries, final project reports and analysis reports for clients and supervisors. These reports may outline development and research methodologies, details of Internet and intranet site capacities, items that require immediate attention and monitoring, and recommended actions. They summarize and explain web site user surveys and statistics such as traffic, site usage, sales and web page link speeds. (4)
  • Write technical articles for on-line newsletters. For example, a web developer may write an article on coding shortcuts for creating web page style sheets. They strive to explain the technical procedures using plain language. (4)


Money Math

  • Calculate claim amounts for travel expenses such as car expenses and meals using established per kilometres and per diem rates. (2)
  • Review and approve invoices for web site design, development and maintenance costs. They verify that the rates, quantities, taxes and totals are correct. (3)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • May establish and monitor schedules for short and long-term projects. When scheduling, they consider the incremental staff requirements of concurrent projects; and monitor human resources, equipment and material requirements and adjust them to stay on schedule. (3)
  • Complete cost analyses for equipment, supplies and services for web page development and maintenance considering requirements, quality and usage patterns. For example, they compare the cost of web site hosting offered by various suppliers to establish the best value. (3)
  • May establish budgets for large web site development and maintenance projects. They budget for human resource costs, overhead, materials and supplier costs such as translation services. They modify budgets to incorporate unexpected costs such as additional time for difficult design features and staff time to troubleshoot linkage problems. (3)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Calculate the heights, widths and length of web page design features such as graphics, text and advertisement boxes. They convert between inches, centimetres and pixels to scale designs to fit a range of standard screens. (2)

Data Analysis Math

  • Compare web page download and upload times to standards. For example, they review the transfer speeds between the purchase and the view cart action web pages to ensure the speeds are within the established targets or specifications. (1)
  • Compare monthly web site data such as traffic and links to monitor upward or downward trends. (2)
  • Monitor and analyze web site data to draw conclusions about the functioning of Internet and intranet sites. For example, they calculate and compare average web site traffic and types of web site usage to make recommendations for improvements. (3)
  • Monitor and analyze statistics such as customer profile studies, purchasing and web usage trends for particular consumer groups or groups of web site users to draw conclusions about trends and upcoming needs. (3)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate distances and dimensions when viewing web pages and designs. (1)
  • Estimate the time required to complete project tasks. They may need to consider factors such as complexity of tasks and number of management approval levels. Failure to create accurate estimates can damage their organizations' reputations. (2)

Oral communication

  • participate in ongoing discussions with committee members, co-workers, clients and colleagues about projects. For example, they discuss the suitability of web designs with clients and co-workers. They interact with clients for the duration of projects to keep them informed and seek approval on designs. They also receive technical support such as hardware purchasing suggestions, storage requirements and coding shortcuts from system analysts and programmers. (2)
  • may lead meetings with co-workers, colleagues and clients to discuss project details such as web design features, links, structures, and equipment requirements. They present research summaries, discuss options and advise clients on web design and development. (3)
  • negotiate contracts with clients, consultants and suppliers. For example, they negotiate terms for purchasing data storage space from suppliers, development time from consultants, and prices, terms and conditions for web development projects with clients. (3)
  • may participate in conferences and policy meetings on various topics such as graphics standards and intellectual copyright. As web design and development experts, they who offer insights and advice on proposed standards and policies. (3)
  • facilitate training sessions for co-workers and clients' staff. For example, they provide one-on-one and group training sessions on topics such as maintaining and updating information on web sites. (3)


Problem Solving

  • May face conflicts concerning the ownership of web site projects in large companies. They develop strategies to help co-workers from different departments develop solutions such as joint Internet site partnerships. They recommend the creation of working committees to promote cooperation and coordination. (3)
  • Face clients who will not devote the funds needed to create accessible and well-designed Internet and intranet sites. Clients may lack the knowledge and understanding of web design and related technical limitations. Web designers and developers complete situational analyses and prepare business rationales to increase clients' understanding, and persuade them to put more resources into web site development. (3)
  • May find that co-workers and clients' staff are not complying with web publication policies and standards. They prepare and circulate bulletins outlining the effects of non-compliance and restating institutional approval procedures for web sites. If they are unable to change co-workers' behaviour, they seek help from their managers. (3)
  • Encounter delays in Internet development projects. For example, they find that consultants and co-workers fail to meet deadlines, and required graphics, text and other electronic deliverables are unavailable. They reorganize schedules and tasks to counter the delays. They may also discipline unreliable employees and seek different suppliers. (3)

Decision Making

  • Make web site design and development decisions. For example they decide how to structure web site databases and their levels of access, link web pages and the pop-ups embedded in them to promote further browsing within the web sites, and where to place graphics, text and other design elements. (2)
  • May decide to bid on or accept design projects by considering factors such as deadlines, availability of key personnel, levels of expertise, required software and clients' preferences. Their ability to quickly assess project requirements is important to ensuring they do not lose time reviewing requests for proposals for projects that may be unprofitable for their company or beyond their level of expertise. (2)
  • Decide which initial design features of Internet and intranet sites to present to clients and supervisors. They consider the purposes of the web sites, anticipated users and the budgets available. They may carry out research into clients' companies and develop profiles of anticipated users to make informed design decisions. (3)
  • May decide to provide their staff with software training by considering project deadlines, graphic design trends, new software, training costs and time, and the long-term benefits. Training decisions may require supervisors' approvals. (3)
  • Decide what to post on Internet and intranet sites. They choose graphics and text which they think will be effective and yet conform to clients' policies and corporate brand identities. They select only graphics and text for which they have or can obtain reproduction rights. (3)

Critical Thinking

  • Evaluate clients' needs. For example, they work in conjunction with system analysts to assess clients' storage space needs, and develop criteria to identify appropriate specifications for storage and retrieval systems to satisfy them. (2)
  • Evaluate the quality and usability of Internet and intranet sites using established evaluation criteria such as link speed, accessibility of information, number of hits and overall web site usage. They use their expertise and knowledge of web design and development when analyzing the data, drawing conclusions and making recommendations. (3)
  • Judge the suitability and effectiveness of web site content. They use established criteria such as logical flow, interesting content and good overall design. Failure to think critically about the key topics and links often results in disjointed web sites. (3)
  • Evaluate the quality and suitability of graphics and design features for web sites by consulting web design publications and standards, research studies, competitors' sites and their sites. They also consider web sites' purpose and intended audiences, clients' budgets and software capabilities. (3)
  • Evaluate the performance of co-workers and consultants by monitoring their work and assessing their motivation and ability to work independently through observing their ability to meet deadlines. Their judgements of employees' performance is key to building and maintaining strong development teams. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing Own Job Planning and Organizing

Web designers and developers schedule their own job tasks to meet multiple project deadlines. They have many competing demands for their time, including responding to queries from clients, providing support to co-workers, completing design and development tasks, preparing reports and troubleshooting web site malfunctions, so their job task planning must be flexible. In addition, they coordinate and integrate job tasks with programmers, system analysts, network technicians and other staff. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Web designers and developers may be responsible for planning the timelines and task requirements for project and scheduling job tasks for co-workers and contractors.

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember keyboard shortcuts for a variety of software programs.
  • Remember where to locate information on Internet and intranet sites, and which content expert to call for technical guidance and advice.
  • Remember web designs they envisioned while talking with clients until they can draw or create the designs.
  • Remember policies, style guides and standards for clients' web sites.

Finding Information

  • Seek opinions and information from co-workers and colleagues to solve problems. For example, they may phone network managers for information on slow web page loading problems. (2)
  • Draw on information from resource materials, colleagues and clients when troubleshooting coding and software errors. They may need to seek opinions and advice from several technical resources and integrate them for the correct information. (4)

Digital technology

  • Use word processing. For example, they write project reports and design proposals, which require extensive desktop publishing. They format text, lay out pages and import design elements from other programs. (3)
  • Use communication software. For example, they send attachments through e-mail, and maintain their address books and distribution lists. They may also use day planners, calendars and alarm features in some e-mail programs. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they create banners, backgrounds, illustrations, animations and other design elements for use in web sites. They require extensive knowledge of graphics programs and functions to create complex designs and decide which software to use for different design elements. They may train and coach others to create web site graphics. (4
  • Use databases. For example, they design and create on-line catalogues using programs such as Access, setting structures, and designing filtering and sorting processes to extract data. (4)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they create spreadsheets to maintain project, budget, and web site design data. They insert formulae to transform, summarize and automatically update data, and generate graphs to display them. (4)
  • Use hardware and system skills. For example, they update and reload application software and configure network settings for clients' computers. They recommend equipment and software purchases, install programs and hardware to upgrade their own and clients' computers, and set up networks writing batch files and operating system scripts. (4)
  • Do programming and software design and development, by modifying codes using a variety of utility programs. For example, they assemble web site layouts using programming languages such as HyperText Markup Language, Common Gateway Interface script, Java script and Flash animation script. They also scan codes to locate faulty programming when troubleshooting interfacing and linking problems between application programs and web pages, and select programming languages appropriate for different applications. (5)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they read on-line web design and development textbooks using Internet Explorer. They create, upload and produce final web sites using programs such as Dreamweaver, Front Page and Cold Fusion. They create style sheets to trap colours, manage fonts and archive files using a variety of utility programs, and on-line animations using programs such as Macromedia Flash MX and Macromedia. They also test and edit software code to ensure compatibility and consistency between different browsers, and publish and test the functioning of the Internet and intranet sites on host servers before making them active on the web. They may maintain the sites for durations of project contracts. (5)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Web designers and developers spend much of their time working independently when designing and developing web sites. On larger projects, they coordinate tasks and exchange information with other team members both nationally and internationally. They may work as team members or leaders depending on their organizations' structures, project designs and personal experience. They may demonstrate, train and assign tasks to junior web designers. (3)

Continuous Learning

Web designers and developers need to learn continuously because their field is changing constantly and rapidly. Their learning is often motivated by demands of current projects and they spend lots of time updating their knowledge on the latest technologies and trends. They are expected to identify their own learning needs and resources, decide which conferences and seminars to attend and which books to read. In addition, they identify relevant learning resources such as reference manuals, on-line chat rooms and industry publications. They also draw on their background knowledge to apply new learning to particular situations and their continuous learning ability is directly linked to their effectiveness in designing, developing and creating quality web sites. (4)