After two years of introducing myself as a web developer, I finally did it. I told someone I was a web designer. duh-zai-ner: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.

I’m not your average web designer. I spend most of my time thinking about how technical implementations solve business goals. I’m sure you’ve heard this week:

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. - Steve Jobs

Even when I’m typing dollar signs and semi-colons, I’m directly contributing to how a user interacts with a web page. From the start I’m planning how long a page will take (or shouldn’t take) to load. I’m designing URLs so users know how navigate a site without hunting for links. I return useful 404 error messages so viewers know it’s (most likely) not their fault.

And that’s just on the front end!

Every day we as developers make judgments about the technologies that are trendy and fad-driven and decide whether or not to implement in a new project. We could all write spaghetti code, minify it, and call it a day, but “designers” will create a code base that’s not only maintainable by his/herself but accessible to others.

Jesse Shawl is a web designer. And you can too.

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