Text by Ashley Lipman. This article was republished and edited with permission from Women Who Code.


Picture this: you have come across a job listing containing a job description like this:

A new tech-startup is looking for a rockstar designer to blueprint wireframes and design striking mockups. Your responsibility will be writing and branding UI and shaping logos. You must have knowledge of running usability studies, prototyping, and how to write production-ready CSS and HTML.

Are you wondering if this job ad is targeting both designers and developers?

If yes, you’re on the right track.

However, chances are that only one person will be hired for the job – a web developer who also possesses the skills of a web designer. In simpler words, the hybrid unicorn!

The intellectual mindset of such a professional means being capable of understanding the exchange tools while having the know-how of integrating those into the workflow.

The hybrid (designer-developer) combo is becoming a white unicorn of the world of IT. However, the existence of such niche job titles is rare. But some professionals have this hybrid skill under their belt.

Designers who can write codes and the developers who can craft good designs are like a hot toddy in the business world. Being the jack of all trades gives you a massive edge carrying out software completion tasks from concept to delivery — something that SMEs and other E-commerce startups are passionate to jump into.

While working as a unicorn rare hybrid may seem fascinating, the question is: how to go about being an expert in one turf?

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Here are some tips on becoming a designer and a developer:

Begin With Learning HTML/CSS And Javascript Code

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Let’s be honest. Web development is just like building or constructing a new house. Start off with the foundation and the bricks – if you’re confident about the structure, you’ll be sure to complete the construction effortlessly.

Once the architecture is completely functional, you’ll know why learning basic coding skills is worthwhile. After all, it’s about having control over the structure of the website right from the beginning.

Understand The Browsers’ Limitations

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For any developer or designer, it’s mandatory to understand the limitations of the browsers. For heavy mockups, different browsers allow offbeat restrictions.

To achieve picture perfection, most designers face problems adjusting fancy dropdowns and radial gradients. You may slice images for the custom buttons, but not at the cost of the optimisation overlay of fancy gradients. By using CSS, it’s possible to rectify such problems. Plus, CSS is compatible with cross-browsers. Just make sure you’re not creating a bad impact on the page speed.

Always Be A Good Learner

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Start off with HTML and CSS basics. After that, you can jump to Javascript. Don’t just rely on jQuery. Interestingly, there are numerous tutorials available on the internet.

Once you’ve covered all the necessary areas, you can stretch your learning to an advanced level. To make this possible, try learning SASS, CSS in JS, or CSS preprocessor.

After mastering this, you can make a move towards Github while exploring how it stores code repositories. If you still find room in your brain, you may choose to learn more advanced languages like Vue, js, and React.js.

Remember that it’s a never-ending learning curve. So, don’t get overwhelmed!

Undeniably, learning complex codes and languages isn’t easy. Even learning a foreign language isn’t often an easy task.

However, the good thing about website developers is they not only have a good reservoir of knowledge, they always love to share what they’ve learned. You’ll always have the luxury to use their creative ideas.

Besides, when the codes turn up into shapes and colors on screens, the efforts of the developers never go unnoticed.

Show Your Worth As A Designer And Developer

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Generally, developers make more bucks than designers. Even industry-offered salaries for web developers are higher than that of web designers.

As you apply for the position of a designer + developer, companies might pay you as a web designer only (while ignoring your expertise in web development). This is an injustice, of course.

To avoid this situation, the best bet is to act proactively.

First, be prepared for this kind of employers’ mindset. Value your skill to the fullest. You’ve got to stand for what you deserve in terms of salary negotiations. Though you’ll not necessarily be getting double pay rates, the pay-scale should still be justified according to the workload you’ll be pondering.

Explore The Creative Developer In You

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Generally, the word ‘creative’ is reserved for designers, artists, and other visual creators. However, developers are also creative professionals.

Perhaps, web developers don’t even consider themselves to be creative. But in reality, they actually are.

They resolve technical issues with websites; they just do all that in their own manner.

Even if you’ve have made up your mind sticking with the current employer, keep your boss updated with your work progress in terms of your cross-discipline projects.

To showcase your creative skills as a web developer, always be open to asking your boss for the wider range of different projects that will help you groom your skills. This way, you’ll also be able to ask for a raise based on the advanced skills you’ve learned.

Having the grip on the coding and languages, you’ll be able to communicate well with the other developers on functionalities and UI both.