EVERYTHING You Need To Know About a Full Stack Designer

Without question, it is difficult to come up with a job title that vividly explains and defines the skills that you have as a professional web designer.

However, if you understand the term full stack, it will not only give you a clearer understanding of what your title should be; you will know, too, how you can be of value to the team and the project that you are working on. Additionally, you will have the insight on how to use your skills in planning what your main job focus should be.

full stack designer

Nowadays, web designers are also armed with the knowledge and skills of a web developer

Full-Stack Designer Defined

In the past, there was a clear distinction between a web designer and a web developer. While it is true that there were people who could do both designing and developing, the number was very low. However, times have changed. These days, more and more web designers are also equipped with the knowledge and responsibility of a web developer, working both on a design and some development or UX works.

Needless to say, now seems to be the perfect time to branch in the industry by equipping yourself with more knowledge and resourcefulness. However you view it, whether you think it’s a blessing or a curse, a web designer is not only expected to work on a design; he needs to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to develop some codes or even take on the responsibility of the entire development process, too.

So, What Does It Really Mean to be a Full Stack Designer?

Well, being a full-stack designer simply means being a person who is cross-disciplinary and has the ability to complete a project. A full stack developer handles everything, including end development, back-end development, back-end server development, and many more. This is, of course, apart from coming up with an engaging design.


A full-stack designer is cross-disciplinary and able to complete a project

What the Experts Say about Full-Stack Designing

However, designing and coding are two distinct skills that require different regions of the brain to master. The right brain is for visual and creativity and the left brain is for structure and organization. Designers are predominately right-brainers while coder left-brainers. So there is still only a handful of full-stack web developer on the market.
I would never discourage anyone from learning to code. Even a few hours invested in learning the basics will earn you perspective and useful skills. That said, there’s a lot of intangible learning and judgement that an experienced developer brings to their work. That’s why it’s a good idea to balance an understanding of coding with a general perspective on what your project’s looking to accomplish, framed in a way that lends itself to constructive interdisciplinary discussions.
Becoming a full-stack designer helps everyone involved in the product, even if only a small subset of your skills are being utilized. Being full-stack means that you have the ability to comprehend every part of the product development process, allowing you to deliver design that not only improves the product, but improves the efficiency of your team as well. Not only can your work be more efficient, as a full-stack designer you are a multi-discipline polyglot who can speak the native language of every member of the team. COREY LEE
Becoming a full-stack anything is special in and of itself. It’s investing quite a lot of time and effort into oneself professionally, most often outside the workplace. So what makes full-stack designers so important? Primarily, it’s the skills in their spectrum. Typically, designers are the ones organizing research, creating wireframes, checking out UX patterns, organizing UI design, and generally making sure we aren’t ending up with stunningly beautiful websites and apps that simply don’t have a purpose.
Working with developers in terms of the realization of the design has always been a big pain and non-stop iterations, but recently a beautiful thing has happened in the world of Web design — the term “Web Designer” is turning in favor of the term “Full Stack Designer”. It no longer conveys the meaning that the designer just delivers source files, but that the designer understands the world of the web on technical levels and fulfills the design to a working prototype by himself, and not just a few designers but many.

A full-stack designer has lots of opportunities to develop his skills

The Benefits of Being a Full Stack Designer

Expansive Skill Sets

Without question, more than the financial rewards, the biggest perk of being a full-stack designer is the opportunity to expand his skills. More often than not, they end up having a thorough knowledge of their job and become more consistent even from the research phase until the production phase.

A full stack designer can become aware of his limitations and expectations as he plans the UX/UI wireframes. He becomes more knowledgeable in terms of what works well and cannot work well in coming up with an elegant design. He can also become more realistic in terms of what to expect even before he starts pushing coding or pixels.

Having said this, becoming a full stack designer does not only benefit the designer himself; even the employer can benefit from his expansive set of skills, too. It goes without saying that an employer can keep a lean structural workforce equipped with individuals who are having a grasp of the bigger and more complete picture of the work that needs to be done.

Just imagine this. Even with a basic knowledge of development or another skill apart from web designing is already a perk. In fact, this can arouse the need of a web designer to increase his knowledge in the said area. A web designer can hunger for more knowledge about the things outside his comfort zone once the seed has been planted.

Realistic Expectations

Apart from increased knowledge and expanding his set of skills, another benefit of being a full-stack designer is that he knows exactly what to expect of the design that he has come up with. Gone are the days when a web designer just sits back in front of his computer and bury his head in his sketchbook, not worrying about how his design will be implemented. These days, it’s a totally different type of game for web designers.

More than coming up with a visually appealing design, a full stack web designer is expected to transcend this scope and use his influence over other areas to enhance the design of a project. It’s like expecting an architect to come up with design and take into consideration of the materials and physics involved in the design that he has worked on. Hence, full stack designers can easily come up with a design that is not only aesthetically appealing but functional, too. The demand for designers to work more than just a design is on the constant rise.

After all, a good designer does not only focus on the design itself but also on other things that are connected to it. Sounds counterproductive, one may think. Well, not really. A designer needs to realize the influence of the different factors in web development has on the design. The more he comprehends the whole process, the better his design can become. Every full stack designer is aware of this.

The Pitfalls of Hiring a Full Stack Designer

Thanks to the expansive skill sets of a full stack designer, an employer is forced to give them a much higher pay as compared to those who just focus on web design alone. Well, this is just proper, after all, a full stack designer can do a job that is normally done by two people.

Additionally, a full stack designer has to constantly advance himself through learning. He needs to be in the know of the latest technologies, skills, and practices. While it is true that this is great, this can also mean investing more time and money, much more if he has no idea of what skills exactly he needs to learn.


A full stack designer skills are a combination of foundational and technical skills

What Skills a Full Stack Designer Should Have

Foundation Skills

  1. Design thinking. This is the first skill that a full stack designer needs to learn. He needs to identify his audience so that he can focus his efforts on a more actionable and testable view of his client. He needs to create a healthy interdisciplinary tool set that he can use needed in product development and promotion.
  2. Lean. A full stack designer should know if something is going to work even before time and money is wasted on it. He must be adventurous enough to venture into what he doesn’t know without losing his focus on the things that he already knows as right. He should be able to learn fast to avoid wasting time.
  3. Customer discovery. Being able to create an actionable understanding of his customer so that he can build the right product and market it effectively is another skill that a full stack designer needs to have. He should know what ticks his customer, instead of ticking him off.
  4. Agile. A full stack designer should always be in the know the progress of the objective that he and his team has. He needs to create inputs to product development and promotion that are linked to his work involved in design thinking and customer discovery.

Technical Skills

  1. Model-View-Controller. This will help a full stack designer to identify the development program, its importance in all aspects, and its suitability for everything else. It will also help him break down the complexity of software development and think about the questions that can give sensible answers.
  2. App and platform integration. This will enable a full stack designer to know what he is working on and its suitability in its operating environment. It will also help him understand the different pieces of his extended product and the implications of the various approaches in making an application.
  3. Roles and systems in a technical team. Knowing the difference between a UI designer VS developer VS sysadmin VS developments can give full stack designer a clearer understanding of his role and put him on the right track as he works on his project.

Full Stack Designer Job Boards

Stack Overflow Careers 2.0

This is, without question, a quality site that features an explicit filter for telecommuting jobs. What is further impressive is that this site features a job posting form for employers that can be checked if the employer wants an entirely telecommute employee.
Filter type: Location (Telecommute)
Number of remote posts (approx.): 127

37signals Job Board

This job site has posts that are of high quality. However, it seems that this job doesn’t list a lot of telecommuting jobs. Additionally, this job site does not clearly define if a job is for telecommuting.
Filter type: keyword search

Dribbble – Jobs

This job site features offers some telecommuting jobs, too, but an applicant needs to exercise a lot of patience in order to find one. The truth of the matter is that this job site is simply a launchpad to external sites.
Filter type: none

Authentic Jobs

This site is reputed for the quality of its job listing posts The other perk here is filtering that lets you separate full-time jobs though the telecommute checkbox.
Filter type: checkbox

Real Life Full Stack Designers

If you go to Linkedin, you will find a list of some of the most qualified full stack designers who can surely be of great value to a team and carry out a project successfully.

Here’s some of them:

1. Chandan Kumar
Product Design, UI/UX // Chandankm.com
Chandan is a full stack designer who believes in aesthetic and details. He claims that he creates bolder user experiences as he identifies the problems and solves them. With more than 10 years of experience, he does not only understand the perfect user interface but also works on making it even better. He takes pride in the fact that he can simplify problems and make aesthetically appealing and intuitive interface designs.
I am a Full Stack Designer. I believe in Aesthetics & Details. I create bolder user experiences. I uncover problems & solve them. I’ve been at it for over 10 years.As a UI / UX designer and developer, I understand the perfect user interface should look good and work even better. I enjoy turning complex problems into simple, beautiful and intuitive interface designs.

2. Eric Nance
Full-Stack Designer, Creative Entrepreneur
With 17 years of experience in providing compelling creative solutions, Eric Nance is, without question, one of the most innovative and forward thinking full stack designer. He combines his expertise in web designing and development in helping online businesses make their presence felt online. He creates effective solutions that help his clients achieve their target. As a self-motivated professional who has an entrepreneurial spirit, he has a proven record of delivering high-quality visual communication systems for different clients in various industries, thanks to his classic artistic styles and technical skills.

3. Andrea Pilutti
Freelance Full Stack Designer
Andrea boasts of 13-year design and creative career in print and web. His clients are not just ordinary; they are some of the greatest and leading international brands. He has an extensive knowledge of print and web production process, specializing in print design, UX, UI, web design and frontend development. Additionally, he has entrepreneurial experience tucked under his belt, having worked as a full-time freelance designer consultant since 2008. He describes himself as passionate about design, tech-savvy, and early adopter of technology.

4. Damian Martone
Full Stack UX Designer. Former Graphic Design Teacher.
Damian is presently residing in Berlin, Germany. He describes himself as an enthusiast for product development and interactive design. He believes that branding and strong communication in every product are vital in generating a distinctive User Experience that pushes it one step ahead of the generic design solutions. Without question, Damian is a versatile designer with a formation in graphic design, teaching, and art directing experience. He adds that he is eager to make new and cool things.

5. Anthony Pitassi
Creative Director / Senior Full Stack Designer
Anthony is a highly motivated, experienced, and organized professional. He seeks for opportunities to work on exciting projects that can give him an opportunity to unleash his artistry, strategy, and knowledge on user interface development in coming up with a beautiful and useful web design. He describes himself as a product thinker by heart and is always enthusiastic in making relevant contributions with measurable results, thanks to his unwavering work ethics and commitment to excellence for UX Design, UI Design, UI Development, Graphic Art and User Psychology.


Tools depend on the designer’s preference

Tools Full Stack Designers Must Have

Lauren Waller opines that the kinds of tools that a full stack designer uses are highly dependent on his preference. For instance, despite the rising popularity of Sketch, if a web designer is more familiar with using Photoshop, he encourages him to stay with it, much more if he has mastered using it.

Nonetheless, the following are the things that he suggested as the most important tools that are most important for a full stack designer:

  1. Pen and Paper. Before using his computer, using a pen and paper to sketch or write something about a design. While it is true that some designers find this unnecessary, it works well with other people.
  2. Paper App for iPad. For full stack designers who are not sold to the idea of using pen and paper, the Paper App for iPad is the best substitute for making basic ideas and wireframe sketches.
  3. Moqups. This tool is primarily for wireframing. Moqups offers a lot of web components that can be dragged into the canvas or be edited with a great deal of ease.
  4. Sketch. According to Lauren Waller, he loves Sketch because of its:
    • Artboards that give him infinite workspace
    • Intuitive, one letter shortcuts
    • Community, where anyone can contribute to the betterment of the project, anywhere they are.
    • Customisable grid layout
    • Ease in exporting assets
    • Symbols and shared styles
    • CSS attributes
  5. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. This is great for illustration and photo manipulation. Photoshop is ideal for editing, comps, deep etching, and grading. Illustrator works best for customizing iconography, typography, and illustrations.
  6. IconJar. This is the easiest way to incorporate icons into a design, much more if you use common icon libraries.
  7. IcoMoon. Without question, this is the easiest way to make a custom icon font, especially is a project calls for uncommon iconography.
  8. InVison. InVision enables you to make an interactive design with ease and speedily with the help of Hotspots.
  9. Kraken. This is best for image optimization. It reduces the large file sizes without affecting their quality.
  10. Webstorm. This has numerous integrated features which make a seamless development process possible. This tool can be used from cloning projects to writing codes to pushing to GitHub.

Full stack designers are one of the most financially rewarded individuals

Is Being a Full Stack Designer Financially Rewarding?

Surely, full stack designers are some of the most stressed-out workers out there. However, thanks to their expansive set skills and the demand for them, they are some of the most financially rewarded individuals. Depending on the size of the company that they are working for and its location, a full stack designer can earn as much as $160,000 annually. In San Francisco, California USA, the average annual income of a full stack designer is $139,000.

A full stack designer doesn’t have to assume every role every time a product is created. After all, a full stack designer cannot be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Going full stack is being equipped with the expertise in some fields while having a traversable skill level in all the other fields. Full stack designers are definitely not an expert in everything, but, without question, they have the capacity to deliver a well-designed finished product.

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