Mar 02

Results from The ambiguity of “web developer”

A presentation and discussion of survey results

In early January I posted an article titled The ambiguity of “web developer”[1] and asked readers to fill out a short survey to provide some industry insight. Before we jump into the actual data I’d like to point out a few things I took away from the results.

  • Web Developer, and its ambiguous nature, is the most common job title
  • More than half of the respondents felt their job title is accurate
  • A majority of respondents would not change their job title
  • It’s hard to answer the question “What do you do for a living?”
  • Most respondents describe themselves as generalists and wear the hats to prove it

And now… on to the data!

What is your job title?

Web Developer is clearly the most common job title among respondents. Equally interesting is that no one held the job title of Application Developer or Interactive Developer.

Do you believe your job title accurately describes the work you perform on a daily basis?

Which tasks do you perform on a monthly basis?

Answers to this question seem to contradict the previous question. If the job title Web Developer accurately describes the work performed on a daily basis, does that mean a Web Developer is expected to know system administration, DBA, front-end coding, back-end coding, IA, SEO/SEM, and a few other things?

I’m not arguing for or against a general approach to development. I personally try to learn what will make me a better developer. If that means doing a little bit of each of these tasks, then so be it.

Would you change your job title if you could?

Not much of a shocker here. Those who feel their job title is accurate would not change it. Those who don’t feel their job title is accurate would.

If you answered yes to the previous question, what would you change your job title to?

These answers may have been the actual highlight of the survey. Among the responses were Emperor, Wizard of Internet and Yoda. Wands at the ready!

Do you feel that your co-workers have a good understanding of your role?

This is very encouraging. In my opinion, a team that understands one other’s roles is critical to success.

When friends and family ask you what you do for a living, do you feel like you have a clear, concise answer?

I’m not sure if this is encouraging or discouraging. It seems like we generally have a hard time explaining what we do. Perhaps the real issue is that we don’t have a simple way to encapsulate all that we do in a day into some kind of sentence that means something to those outside the industry.

Does your current position provide you with a clear career ladder?

I find the percentage of individuals that replied N/A of particular interest here. It’s almost assumed in our culture that everyone should have a career ladder. I knew there would be a mix of yes and no. But what about people that are perfectly happy in their role and would be happy in that role for the foreseeable future?

If you had to classify yourself as a generalist or specialist, which would you choose?

Interesting insight here, but not too surprising based on the “daily tasks” question above. In today’s development culture it’s assumed that you’re going to be able to wear many hats. It seems most respondents already classify themselves that way.

Closing thoughts

Thank you to everyone that took the time to fill out the survey. The results provided some insight for me into how individuals view themselves and their roles within the industry. I’m still trying to digest what this means for the actual ambiguity of the title of Web Developer. I find myself at odds because it seems like most individuals are happy with Web Developer as their title, but there is clearly confusion within and outside the community. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please discuss.