Coronavirus (COVID-19) information: Live classes available in-person or online from our fully vaccinated instructors. Learn more about our reopening.


Web design roles

  • Published on May 10, 2021
web design roles

Web design is a popular career option for many designers, yet there are many specialized options including UX design and visual design. While you may be familiar with the rich, engaging online experiences, you may not know how many people are involved in bringing a concept for a site or app to life. Learn the roles if you are considering a career in web design or UX.

UX Designer

These professionals work with a number of different departments to ensure that the overall experience offered by a site or app is functional, intuitive and rewarding for the user. Blending several skills including visual design, Web analytics, market research and project management, UX designers are integral to many of the Web's most popular sites and applications. User experience (UX) designers use templating tools such as Balsamiq, Adobe Fireworks, and Photoshop to design how a site or app should be formatted. Then, they work with designers to ensure that aesthetics remain faithful to the project's original vision. These professionals are also closely involved with beta testing, taking the opinions of users into account to further refine the look, feel and functionality of the product. 

Visual Designer or UI Designer

Once the UX designer and project manager have signed off on the aesthetics of the product, it's time for the visual designer to take over. These professionals work with software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver to create the assets that will make up the user interface, or UI. This can include everything from custom typefaces and buttons to scrollbars and color palettes.

The visual designer is responsible for crafting the final aesthetic of the site or app, and in today's increasingly competitive digital media environment, the work of visual designers is more important than ever before.

Information Architect

After the visual designer has worked his or her magic, the information architect gets to work. These professionals are tasked with organizing the core data of which the site or app is comprised, and designing information systems to allow users to interact with the product quickly and efficiently.

Information architects combine skills from several fields, including computer and library science, in addition to specialized knowledge in areas such as cognitive behavior. Ensuring that users can access and interact with the core data of a site or app falls to the information architect, requiring a logical approach to problem solving, as well as creative flair for making large volumes of information accessible and intuitive to the user.

Information architects work with a number of tools, including Photoshop and Illustrator.


Of course, even the most minimally designed sites and apps often contain at least some text, and this is created by the copywriter. These professionals are responsible for the writing and editing of all copy that appears on a site, from step-by-step instructions to product descriptions. Although copywriters often work in a word processor during the initial stages of a project, all text to be included in a site or app must be formatted into HTML before going live, meaning that many copywriters can write code as well as prose.

Web Developer

While Web designers are responsible for what the user sees, Web developers are tasked with ensuring that the site works, often behind the scenes. Developers use a variety of technical skills to accomplish this, including HTML and CSS for visual adjustments, server-side scripting such as PHP to add core functionality to website databases, and Javascript to add dynamic functionality to certain parts of a Web page. While developers could use the code view of an app such as Dreamweaver, most tend to use text editors to write their HTML, JavaScript, and other languages.

Project Manager

With so many people involved in the creation of a site or app, it falls to the project manager to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that the product is delivered on-time and on-budget. Project managers are exceptional communicators, and are able to deal with several different departments with ease, whether discussing the technical specifications of an app with the development team or liaising with UX designers to ensure that the overall experience is satisfying to the user.


About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics classes along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.