Full Stack Designer, a real thing?

over 6 years ago from

So I got called a Full Stack Designer by a recruiter the other day and I remember a few weeks ago I saw an online portfolio (can't remember who) referring to themselves as a Full Stack Designer, is this a thing now? If so would this benefit me in putting "Full Stack Designer" on my portfolios etc..


  • Ken Em, over 6 years ago

    This entire industry is just full of crap with this whole labeling shit.

    127 points
  • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, over 6 years ago

    I'll just leave this here

    32 points
  • John GomezJohn Gomez, over 6 years ago

    Heh, funny! I just listened to the Designer Details episode with Joel Califa (https://spec.fm/podcasts/design-details/65235), who, himself, says he coined the term. I think you should listen to the episode for some more history about it:) And maybe Joel himself could tell us more about what a Full Stack Designer is if he finds this thread ;)

    8 points
  • nabeel khalidnabeel khalid, over 6 years ago

    Its some marketing BS to get companies to pay more. If you're not sure about what to call yourself either consider the work you do or just call your self a unicorn. No one can fuck with a unicorn.

    8 points
  • Josiah TullisJosiah Tullis, over 6 years ago

    In practice I hear this more frequently referred to as a "generalist" designer, which I think makes sense.

    4 points
  • James Young, over 6 years ago

    It's just a title but I do think it can be used to describe a very small percentage of people who are both talented designers and developers. Not just someone who can use Sketch and write HTML, but someone you could pretty much drop into any part of a product/app/website process and they'd be contributing at the highest level in the same way a more specialised "designer" or "React developer/whatever" would.

    I always look at someone like Jon Gold as being a good example of design + code skill.

    4 points
  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, over 6 years ago


    3 points
  • Sam SmallSam Small, over 6 years ago

    At Made by Many we haven’t adopted the term Full Stack Designer (we definitely have Full Stack Developers) however, we do believe that a full stack designer is someone who can contribute at every stage in the product development process. This is inclusive of research, synthesis, usability testing, prototyping, visualisation, and user interface design or production design. We don’t believe this should include the ability to code, which is perhaps part of the reason we’re reluctant to start calling our design team full stack designers.

    3 points
    • Juan F. MenaJuan F. Mena, over 6 years ago

      We don’t believe this should include the ability to code

      The stack is not full then. /s

      6 points
    • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, over 6 years ago

      We don’t believe this should include the ability to code


      0 points
      • Sean SchraederSean Schraeder, over 6 years ago

        Would a full stack architect lay bricks for the building? Would a full stack chef bus the tables too? Would a full stack Dentist build the chair you sit in?

        1 point
        • Ean MoodyEan Moody, over 6 years ago

          I don't think they need to every day. But I'd very much like to hope my architect could lay bricks, and my chef has bussed a table.

          0 points
          • Sean SchraederSean Schraeder, over 6 years ago

            Sure, I could see the benefits to those scenarios but I don't see how it's relevant to the discussion of what we expect a Full Stack 'designer' or anything else to be proficient at.

            0 points
        • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, over 6 years ago

          I don't think your analogies take into account the context of when and where such things are needed. In really small places the person making your food DOES bring it to you. No a dentist doesn't build the chair, but they do have input into the features it should have.

          In a small company or startup it is far more cost efficient to have a designer who does more than just visual design. It also makes the visual design that much better when the designer actually understands and works with the relevant technologies.

          1 point
  • Nicholas HendrickxNicholas Hendrickx, over 6 years ago

    If a Full-Stack Designer is expected to be able to code, then a Full-Stack Developer would be expected to be able to design. I think it makes more sense to separate both fields. And if you do both, fine, then you have two titles. Right?

    2 points
  • Luke SeeleyLuke Seeley, over 6 years ago

    If you need a shorter label to explain you're ability to assume multiple kinds of design roles—UX, UI, Graphic, Visual, etc—then I think it's a fine term. There is a design stack as much as there is a development stack.

    I'd say the more detailed you can be, the better, listing out your previously held responsibilities, skills and tool proficiences. It's always better to avoid labels when you can. The sooner you label yourself, the sooner people think they've figured you out.

    2 points
  • Matt Kandler, over 6 years ago

    Hopefully that wasn't my portfolio! I wrote a medium post last year (https://medium.com/@mattkandler/full-stack-designer-4b2fd08c3e6d) using the term . The idea, for me, is trying to find a single label to use as one of those "designer / developer" people. I found myself frustrated to describe all the things I do as a freelancer, so it was a useful thought exercise.

    1 point
  • Or Arbel, over 6 years ago

    It's all Semantics. Definitions.

    The way I see it: "Full Stack Designer" - A Designer that can single-handedly do everything needed from ideation to product in user hands.

    That means all the way up to coding the design, and putting it on the interwebs for people to use it.

    Today, this doesn't mean such a designer needs to know how configure nginx since you have github.io for static websites and heroku for dynamic sites. So if the designer knows how to use them, that qualifies them as "full stack". In the same way that 10 years ago to code a responsive website one needed to know all the ins-and-outs of CSS while today you just use Bootstrap.

    But this definition is open for discussion, as evidence by this thread :)

    P.S My definition is probably inspired by Chris Dixon's definition of a "Full Stack Startup"

    1 point
  • Gen Uine, over 6 years ago

    I mean considering all the $hit we deal w/, we're more Backend Designers than anything.

    1 point
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 6 years ago

    "Full Stack Designer" == "Rockstar Designer" ~ 3-5 years ago. It's all just crappy jargon. Recruiters and employers are too lazy to to identify what they really want and need out of a new hire.

    1 point
    • Emir BukvaEmir Bukva, over 6 years ago

      I’m not so sure that people who use those terms want to use them interchangeably.

      "Rockstar" is a weird label for many reasons. Even though it’s ambiguous, it could arguably be used to qualitatively describe the person’s work ethic. E.g. They’re just more productive than any other professional in their role... They'll work weekends if needed to solve a problem, then crash for a couple of days... etc.

      Full stack designer could be used to describe the competencies across the spectrum of design specializations. E.g. They can do both ethnographic research and design an high-fidelity interface mockup!

      Neither of the above two needs to relate to seniority in any way. How many years someone has been in the industry doing a particular kind of work is a simple metric and not unique to the design field.

      Good recruiters, who excel at their craft, should care about all these and be able to differentiate between them. I think it’s on us to coach them if they’re conflating things, or misusing the labels in a way that’s not good for the profession.

      0 points
  • Ankit JoshiAnkit Joshi, over 6 years ago

    I was thinking about this the other day. This was purely for semantics, but on a high level, I am not a fan of the whole fragmentation and find it confusing for all the parties involved.


    1 point
  • John Jackson, over 6 years ago

    I don't understand why we need so many different titles. Why can't things just stay simple and to-the-point?

    1 point
  • Sandeep SharmaSandeep Sharma, over 6 years ago

    Maybe just an another useless title.

    1 point
  • Suleiman Leadbitter, over 6 years ago

    I can't speak for others but me personally, I am a FullStack, Designer, Developer, Unicorn. Ninja Rockstar head on fire, nacho munching mofo on a mission to change the world.

    Yeah, that's a title. In fact, that's the condensed version. My CV only has space for shit descriptive words that I have no room left for the actual experience, but hey I feel this is much more important.

    0 points
  • Andrew C, over 6 years ago

    When I hire UX means analysis (show your work) and UI is rendering the implementation (interface graphic design, use of components in systems like Android and iOS).

    I don't think it's perfect, but it's not really all that confusing.

    EDIT: As a side note, I think the title Full-Stack developer is equally as troublesome for companies. As a designer you can tell right away working with a dev that understands and values front-end or finds CSS and JS for the sake of UI tedious, boring and confusing. That's why I'd opt to not use that label (anywhere).

    0 points
  • Doug OrchardDoug Orchard, over 6 years ago

    Because I like to see the world burn,

    Everyone is a designer. Get over it.

    labels are somewhat stupid and necessary at the same time :(

    But agreed, 'full stack' to me more refers to a developer who does design as well.

    0 points
  • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, over 6 years ago

    There are some things which are just annoying and self-congratulatory in the design and dev world. This is not one of them despite sounding like it.

    There is an issue with not having as good labels for the range of designers out there compared to the types of developers. If we can call someone a full-stack dev, what's so bad about calling someone a full-stack designer?

    0 points
  • Blaine KBlaine K, over 6 years ago

    Titles matter more to some than to others, but I have a hard time labelling myself, since I do a good amount of design work, front-end work and back-end work.

    Names are hard.

    Personally I don't mind Full Stack Designer but I think it'd be more clear to stay away from the weird titles and just explain what you do.

    0 points
  • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, over 6 years ago

    It's just another term for design generalist rather than a specialist. It can be useful to communicate this difference in some situations. But it does sound a little stupid.

    0 points
  • victor darrasvictor darras, over 6 years ago

    No. Full Stack Designer can't mean anything.

    0 points
  • Joshua KaufmanJoshua Kaufman, over 6 years ago

    What does that even mean?

    0 points