What Exactly Is a Creative Developer?

Did you recently stumble across the job title “creative developer” and wonder what it is? Well, if you thought it has something to do with a software developer building creative and innovative designs, you’re close to the mark.

Creative developers are storytellers that use web technologies to develop engaging and captivating UI and UX to increase user interactivity on a website or web app. They can help create unique web experiences that effectively communicate your brand image so you can stand out from the competition.

In this article, I’ve given you a thorough rundown of what it means to be a creative developer, including an in-depth overview of their job responsibilities, necessary qualifications, and the expected salary. Following that, I’ve also compared them to the two most similar job positions – frontend developer and UX designer.

What It Means To Be a “Creative Developer”

As a creative developer, you bring together the world of creative storytelling and graphic designing with software engineering, particularly web development. 

You can conjure up unique and innovative designs for websites, focusing on making them more interactive and engaging. Your job is less about coming up with a conventionally navigable web layout but rather a web design that invites the user to a memorable experience of your online brand. And what’s more, you have the technical skills to create/develop this user experience.

Overall, you can look at creative developers as graphic designers/animators merged with frontend web developers. This is why they’re also known as creative frontend developers. Furthermore, many web developers need to know photoshop (more about it in this article).

To give you an idea of the type of work you can expect from a creative developer, here’s a quick YouTube video from the channel Flux going over 5 mind-blowing web designs along with commentary on what makes them great:

Why Creative Developers Are Necessary 

What problem does a creative developer solve? Why not have separate designers creating mockups and separate developers using it to build the website or web app?

Well, the most overt problem you’ll face is a communication gap between the designer and the developer.

Often, developers are too technical and overlook specific details crucial to a design. Similarly, because designers aren’t acquainted with the development technologies, they don’t know what designs fall within the technical scope of the project.

Now, a creative developer completely solves this problem.

First and foremost, it is a single individual, so there’s no scope for miscommunication.

Secondly, this person has a creative mind and can develop unique and innovative designs. And because it’s their own design, the importance of all the details, like font choice, color scheme, and layout spacing, are understood. 

Also, because they have technical training, they’re familiar with the capabilities of the development technologies. As such, the designs they come up with are always restrained to the scope of the technologies, which means they’re always deliverable.

Creative Developer: Job Overview

What does a creative developer do? What qualifications do you need to become a creative developer? And how good is the pay? 

Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve scoured countless creative developer job postings on all the popular job portals to bring you a practical answer to all these questions. This should help you better understand what companies are looking for and what you can expect from the creative developer job profile.

Job Responsibilities

As a creative developer, your main job is to come up with innovative design ideas and build them. However, when working with a company, you’ll have a few more responsibilities associated with the position.

Here’s a look at some of the most common job responsibilities for creative developers:

  • Create unique and innovative designs that also represent/communicate the idea of the project/product you’re working on.
  • Consult and collaborate with the marketing teams and communication directors about your designs.
  • Translate your design into an interactive user interface using web technologies.
  • Writing, proofreading, and editing the web-copy on the website.
  • Implement SEO best practices to ensure the website or web app is indexed by search engines despite the unconventional layout or design choices.
  • Analyze how the design performs in terms of user engagement and interactivity, and make necessary changes to optimize the results.

Overall, as a creative developer, not only are you in charge of coming up with unique ideas, but you must also convince stakeholders why those ideas are good and will work. 

After that, you need to deliver on your ideas and analyze performance to evaluate user engagement levels. This determines areas of improvement requiring tweaks for optimized performance.

Required Qualifications and Necessary Skills

To land a job as a creative developer, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or a related field in IT. 

However, some companies may hire you if you have demonstrable skills and knowledge of the necessary tools, techniques, and programming languages. 

As such, if you want to get hired as a creative developer as fast as possible, I’d recommend completing a web development Bootcamp, followed by building a decent portfolio of a couple of websites that showcases your design skills and creative style.

Here’s a shortlist of the technologies you need to know to get hired as a creative developer:

  • The holy trinity of web development – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Knowledge of MySQL and how to manage databases. This comes in handy when you want to create designs that require storing and retrieving data.
  • Experience in PHP and Python for back-end development, if and when necessary depending on the design.
  • Skilled in using design software like PhotoShop, Indesign, etc., for developing the unique UI elements, textures, and artifacts necessary for the design. 

I went from 0 to a web developer after joining a bootcamp. Immediately after I landed an internship and a job afterward. So I know exactly how much JavaScript you need to know to become a web developer.

Average Salary

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a creative developer is $67k/year. The pay usually starts at around $40k/year for entry-level positions, whereas with more experience, you can demand up to $113k/year or higher. 

Now, you might notice that the salaries are on the lower end, especially for an IT professional. For example, the entry-level frontend developer can expect a $47k/year package, whereas the average pay is around $78k/year. You can find more information about junior, mid, and senior developer salaries on this link.

So, why are creative developers paid less?

Well, since your work is “creative,” it’s also risky. When you start out, there’s no guarantee your designs will land with the audience and ensure better engagement and interactivity. As such, creative developers tend to fetch lower salary packages, especially in entry-level positions.

However, once you have a proven track record of delivering great designs that demonstrably leads to better user engagements and site interaction, you can start demanding higher salaries–often more than an equally experienced frontend developer.

Useful Article: Are Web Developers in Demand?

Creative Developers vs. Front-End Developers and UX Designers

A creative developer creates interactive and engaging UI and UX for websites and web apps. But how’s that different from a frontend developer or a UX designer, exactly? 

Here’s a table comparing the job responsibilities, required qualifications, and the average salary of creative developers to frontend developers and UX designers:

Area of ComparisonCreative DeveloperFront-End DeveloperUX Designer
Job ResponsibilitiesCome up with creative and innovative designs that increase engagement and interactivity
Use web technologies to code your design Communicate and collaborate with the marketing team and other stakeholders in the project
Develop the client-side of a website
Collaborate with the design team about the site layout, UI style, etc.
Ensure the client-side is optimized for performance and every element is working properly
Conduct research and analysis to find out the best layout
Create a mockup of the UX design
Communicate and collaborate with UI designers, frontend developers, and creative developers to turn the mockup into a usable layout 
Required QualificationsA bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or similar
A web development Bootcamp certificate
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or similar
A web development Bootcamp certificate
A bachelor’s degree in graphic designing, UX designing, etc.
and/orA UX designer Bootcamp certificate
Average Salary~$67k/year~$78k/year~$105k/year

This should give you a basic overview of how the job profile of a creative developer differs from that of a frontend developer and a UX designer. 

However, if you want to know exactly why a company will hire a creative developer over a frontend developer or UX designer, then here’s a brief comparison of the work they do so you can get a better understanding.

Differences Between Creative and Front-End Developers

A creative developer is essentially a specialized frontend developer skilled at creating interactive and engaging UI/UX solutions. I know this definition can be a bit confusing so let’s consider two websites as an example:

Amazon uses a simple and straightforward UI designed for users to browse their massive catalog of products and discover featured items. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely well-built and optimized to do its job efficiently. However, in terms of user engagement and interactivity, the design is bland and mundane. Furthermore, there’s nothing in the design or the UX that helps it stand out from other e-commerce stores.

A frontend developer is typically tasked with creating these types of “conventional” websites that follow an industry-standard design language.

Now, let’s consider Bruno-Simon.com, the portfolio website of creative developer Bruno Simon. It’s like an interactive game where you get to control a car and drive around a landscape with multiple pit stops showcasing their projects, social media links, etc. 

Video: What Does A UX Designer Actually Do?

It’s an engaging and unique experience that you’ll definitely remember. 

If you want your website to have these distinctive and engaging user experiences, you’ll need to hire a creative developer.

Differences Between Creative Developers and UX Designers

The main difference between the two professions is that a UX designer doesn’t need to know how to code, whereas a creative developer needs to learn web development.

A UX designer is more concerned with understanding a user’s needs and how they’ll navigate the web layout to find what they’re looking for. After that, a UX designer will create an optimized layout to make the user’s journey as seamless and intuitive as possible.

The work of a UX designer has less to do with creativity and is more based on conducting research, analysis, and strategizing to find the objectively best design. 

Once the design is ready, a UX designer will create a mockup and pass it along to a frontend developer to code it into a usable and interactive interface. Some companies and digital agencies might also involve a creative developer at this phase to make the mockup as interactive and engaging as possible.

As such, UX designers are more concerned with the science of intuitive designs, whereas a creative developer is tasked with coming up with innovative and unique designs and coding them.

Video: Should you Become a UX Designer or Front-End Developer?

Key Takeaways

A creative developer is someone who can come up with unique and innovative web layouts focused on increasing user interactivity and engagement levels. What’s more, they can then build these layouts using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

As such, a creative developer brings together the talent of creative designing with technical expertise. They’re often tasked with creating websites or web experiences that don’t follow conventional design styles and layouts to create something unique and memorable.