Web Developers vs Programmers

I recently had a discussion on Twitter with someone who I had respect for in the web community. He was arguing about the term UX developer having a negative effect on his part of the industry. I argued that the term developer is pretty generic, it simply implies that someone is developing something.

I then read an article about lazy programmers being the best programmers, a view I’ve agreed with for a long time and had the luck to observe on many occasions first hand.

The absence of the word Developer from the  article and the missinterpretation of the term by the chap I had the (argument) discussion with niggles me slightly and prompted me to write this reply:


In my humble opinion:

A web developer helps develop things that make up part of the web, their job should be about configuration to deliver good presentation and functionality – minimal configuration of a programmers code. Their skill-set is usually quite broad and they probably have knowledge of a few web frameworks like WordPress, some of their skills might be programming, others are likely to be using photoshop or scripting (html etc), understanding network latency, security implications, accessibility etc

A programmer (lets say a web programmer) has an in depth knowledge about one or many languages and understands how application architecture fits together, to solve specific problems. They understand the intricacies of writing code and how it affects ‘the machine’, design patterns and when and why they should be used, if at all. They can craft their code efficiently and make it robust and understand how it needs to be tested and evolved. Their code should be the tools that the web developer integrates and utilises and ultimately configures.

I realise that in a lot of cases these are the same person – I just think our industry could do well to recognise the difference a little more often especially with all the good open source software programmers are producing these days!