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Web Development Team: Structure, Key Roles, Responsibilities

Let’s say you have a fleshed-out idea for a web app. You plan on hiring a development team to create it.

How do you assemble a team for your web development project? Who should you look for so that development runs like clockwork?

Understanding the basic structure of a web development team is key. In this article, we’ll outline the main roles and responsibilities of each team member. Read on to find out how to manage a web development team and more.

Reading time: 14 minutes

Table of contents

Key takeaways

    • Here are three signs of a good web development team: it fits the budget, has relevant experience, and is structured clearly.
    • We outlined 9 roles and their responsibilities in a given web development team. Among them are business and system analysts, UI/UX designers, frontend and backend developers, QA and DevOps engineers, and SEO specialists.
    • If you want to manage your own web development team, we have four suggestions. First, choose a team that aligns with your budget and resources. Second, think of the app idea before development. Third, don’t withhold any details. Finally, answer any development questions on time.

Key signs of a good web development team

Putting together a great team can be hard at first. That’s why we outlined several key signs to keep in mind. Let’s delve into them, starting with experience.

Experienced developers

A good team has a great track record and know-how of recent trends and technologies. Their finished projects serve as evidence that they can handle your app and solve technical challenges without issues. Newbies, on the other hand, are prone to making mistakes that the startup can’t afford to fix. The company owner will have to pay extra to clean up their mess.

Portfolios are a good indicator of a developer’s expertise. Look through the team’s development projects and check out how many apps they’ve released. If they have a lot of successful projects behind them, chances are they’ll make a good app for you, too.

The importance of a fitting portfolio

Also, try searching for apps similar to your own idea. Say you want to create a banking app that deals with complex security APIs and financial transactions. In this case, it’s better to get a team with similar completed development projects.

Fits the budget

There are a lot of teams with excellent developers, a proven track record, and a big catalog of apps. These are all valid things to keep in mind while searching for a team, but there’s a key element missing in this line of thinking: they may be out of budget for some entrepreneurs. 

It’s important to find a team that strikes a balance between price and quality, so here’s what we suggest doing:

When you’re talking with a development team or an agency, ask for figures as soon as possible. 

At Purrweb, we disclose estimates and timeframes within 48 hours after the initial meeting with the client. We do that to create realistic expectations and ensure that our team will be a great fit.

Clear web development team structure

A clear structure prevents mismanagement because everybody understands their roles and responsibilities. Each team member focuses on their own tasks without distracting others. Also, a clear structure helps with coordination between developers. It boosts productivity and leads to smoother project execution.

We’ve outlined the most common web development team structure below. Read on to find out which specialists should be included and what their roles and responsibilities entail.

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Web development team structure

Let’s take a look at the 9 key roles every web development team should have. We’ll use our own company structure as an example: we managed to create over 300 projects with little alterations to our web development team structure. If it worked for us, it can work for you. But before we start, let’s look at the summary of all 9 roles:

Role Responsibilities
Business analyst handles incoming queries from clients, analyzes them, and draws up timeframes with a price estimate
Project manager oversees web app development and ensures that the product gets released on time
System analyst makes a unified system of clients’ requirements, business specifications, design, and technical realization
UI/UX designer maps out the UX and creates the UI of the app
Frontend developer takes the finished design mockups and writes code for the visual part of an app to make it functional
Backend developer takes care of and maintains the backend of a website, including databases, servers, and apps
QA engineer ensures there are no bugs, defects, or glitches
DevOps engineer optimizes organization’s software, including software maintenance and server administration
SEO specialist optimizes apps to improve their visibility in search engines and helps drive organic traffic to the product

1. Business analyst

The business analyst is one of the most important web development team roles. They handle incoming queries from clients, analyze them, and draw up timeframes with a price estimate. Their involvement is the key at the beginning stages of app development, i.e., negotiations between the team and client.

Let’s take an in-depth look at their workflow:

Scheduling a call with a client. The business analyst finds the most important information about the client and their project: their wants, technical specifications, and deadlines. This makes it easier to provide a realistic price estimate.

Conducting competitor analysis. The business analyst looks out for the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. If they find some exciting trend, they’ll include it in the project. All in all, at this stage, the business analyst seeks ways to differentiate your app from others.

Competitor analysis example

Here’s an example of a competitor analysis that our team typically conducts

Creating an impact map. The business analyst draws up an impact map to help bridge the gap between strategy and execution. With a business analyst’s help, your team can stay focused on meeting the project deadlines while keeping the original goals in mind.

Impact maps are hierarchical tree diagrams with different levels that help the team see the bigger picture. Usually, they include the following:

    • business goals to reach;
    • user or customer personas who can influence the outcome;
    • the impact we want the project to make;
    • deliverables to be provided to the client;
    • user stories to translate deliverables into features for future implementation.

2. Project manager

After the business analyst manages pricing and other business-related endeavors, the project manager oversees web app development. They ensure that the product gets released on time.

Here are some responsibilities of a project manager in a web development team structure:

Planning resources. The project manager schedules a meeting with the CEO to discuss potential hurdles. Together, they create a project plan. In it, the manager outlines several things, e.g., which specialist to pick for the project, what features to include, etc. This stage makes development a lot smoother.

Organizing the development process. The managers monitor the app’s progress. They see to it that all goes according to plan. If, for some reason, development stalls, the project manager instantly notifies the client and provides possible solutions.

Retrospective example

During and after development, project managers conduct retrospectives. This way, they boost team morale, so developers become more productive in the long run.

Coordinating designers and coders. To successfully deliver the project on time and make sure that the client likes the result — everyone in the team needs to be in sync. And this is exactly where the project manager comes in. Project managers are the ones who have to conduct regular team meetings and establish clear communication channels.

The project manager does a lot of fundamental tasks to make sure everything works smoothly. Here are the most important ones:

    • conducts interviews and gets the necessary information out of the customer;
    • coordinates designers and developers so that design and development gets done on time;
    • gives reports to the client and maintains transparency;
    • calculates risks and tracks the progress of every stage to understand if the deadline will be met.
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3. System analyst

While business analysts and project managers deal with communication, the system analyst manages the technical side of things. Let’s take a look at some of their duties:

Choosing technologies. For example, if you want to build a dating app for both iOS and Android, they’ll recommend cross-platform development. With it, your team creates a single app that works on two platforms simultaneously.

Explaining your vision to developers. To do that, the system analyst prepares several deliverables: BPMN, ERD, and UML diagrams.

Here’s how a BPMN looks:

BPMN chart example

An example of a BPMN chart. We made this for a CRM tool in agriculture.

We laid out these diagrams’ main purpose in the table below:

Diagram Purpose
BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) A diagram that shows business processes.

The system analyst gathers info about potential features from the client ➡️ transforms it into “technical lingo” for designers and developers to understand. 

ERD (Entity-Relationship Diagram) A diagram that showcases the relationship between different entities in a database.

Entities refer to data within the app: users, feature components, etc. It allows us to calculate a realistic price estimate.

UML (Universal Model Language) A diagram that acts as a bridge between the app’s idea and its implementation in code.

It breaks the app and its features down into systems with different components. These include users, what they can do in the app, their characteristics, and links between them.

Helping with cost estimates. The system analyst inspects your app idea and potential features to see whether they’re feasible. They shoot some unrealistic expectations down, like if the client wants to create an app with an advanced AI model in under two months.

4. UI/UX designer

The UI/UX designer maps out the UX and creates the UI of the app. Let’s take a look at their primary responsibilities:

Researching the market. Like other specialists, designers scope out the competitors for features and potential strengths to adapt. However, they also search for design references. The designers pick out a few apps and use them to brainstorm some design choices with you, like potential colors and fonts.

Mapping out the UX. The main job of a designer is to create an app that’s easy to use and navigate. They conduct user research to figure out their target audience’s likes and dislikes. Using this info, designers create a mind map — a diagram with the app’s features and navigation between them.

Mindmap example

A common mind map looks like this: we outline the most important features here

Creating the UI. After features are settled, the designers draw up wireframes: black and white barebone versions of screens.

They then choose three of these and perfect their visual look. To do that, designers pick out colors and fonts to make the app pop. Essentially, they turn the app from looking like a prototype to a development project that has a final polish.

Design concept example

The three selected screens are combined into a design concept. It’s a presentation that showcases the final look of the app and explains design choices. If you want to, you can show it to investors and get their approval.

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5. Frontend developer

Frontend developers take the finished design mockups and make them functional. They write code for the visual part of an app, i.e., the one the user interacts with. To do that, frontend developers use React Native and Typescript.

Let’s take a closer look at some of their main duties:

Realizing the design concept. They take screens created by designers and ensure the concept actually works. Once frontend developers are finished, you get a clickable prototype. It’s a version of an app with a responsive interface; e.g., you can click buttons, scroll through the app, etc. Outside of that, however, the app doesn’t do much.

Making the app look good on anything. Adding cross-browser and cross-platform support is the frontend developer’s responsibility. They create an interface with the adaptive layout in mind. This helps your app look good on any screen, from the smallest iPhone SE to bigger 12” tablets.

Adaptive layout example

Thanks to the adaptive layout, your app is going to look good on any device

6. Backend developer

These types of developers deal with servers and the internal workings of an app. 

Imagine a house. A frontend developer would build the exterior: the faсade, roof tiles, brick walls, etc. A backend developer, on the other hand, would work on the foundation of the house: a concrete base, pipes, and heating systems. These are things that make houses comfortable to live in, and they usually stay hidden.

Frontend and backend dev analogy

The frontend is concerned with the visual look and feel of the app, kind of like the exterior of a house. Backend developers deal with the server-side of things, so in this analogy, they would work on the unseen foundation.

Here are some things backend developers do:

Select APIs and ensure they work properly. APIs are external services an app may need to use. These include things like payment integrations, Google Maps, and video players. The backend developer adds these APIs to the app and sees to it that they don’t break the development project.

Optimize performance. We already mentioned that backend developers work on the server-side of things. It’s up to them to make the servers quickly accept incoming requests, process them, and give the user what they want. Without it, the app can be very annoying to use.

The type of technology these server-side developers use depends on the app. In our case, we choose Heroku for web apps. As for mobile apps, that would be JavaScript and SQL.

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❗️ Note: In our case, backend and frontend developers work together in Agile sprints. These take two weeks. Throughout these sprints, developers flesh out a single feature: they brainstorm, develop, and refine it. We chose this methodology because it makes development transparent: you get a new feature to test every two weeks, and that’s that.

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7. QA engineer

This specialist ensures there are no bugs, defects, or glitches. Like frontend and backend developers, they also work on features in sprints.

The quality assurance engineer is similar to a meticulous housekeeper: they scour the house and its every nook and cranny for dirt, grime, and dust. Removing everything that might make the guest feel unpleasant is their primary job. It’s an important web development team role.

Now, let’s delve into their main responsibilities:

Ensuring new features don’t break the old ones. Let’s imagine a scenario like this: developers roll out a new feature, and said feature makes half of the app unusable. Now you’ll have to fix a lot more than a couple of bugs. And it’s not even the worst part. The fact that your users had to deal with these bugs can harm their perception of your app and even make them stop using it. It’s up to the quality assurance engineer to fish out these errors beforehand and eliminate them.

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Checking if new features can be exploited. Many IT startups collect personal info. If developers aren’t careful, this info can be leaked because of some unforeseen errors. Quality assurance engineers find these bugs and fix them before there’s any trouble.

QA testing example

Rigorous testing is at the forefront of the quality assurance engineer’s duties. The scenarios tested by them range from conventional to unorthodox.

8. DevOps engineer

Besides web developers and QA engineers who work on the actual app, there are also sysadmins who deal with the infrastructure. Think of it as a place where the code for your future app is stored and processed.

In many companies, developers, QA engineers, and sysadmins work separately. That’s not ideal; if there are some bugs within the app or the infrastructure, each specialist tries to deal with it by themselves. This wastes time and resources.

That’s where DevOps engineers come in handy. We employ them when we need specialists for cloud development. They ensure that the app is secure and updates are released regularly.

DevOps engineer’s main job

DevOps engineers ensure that the IT infrastructure of the company works smoothly, updates are deployed on time, and testing is conducted quickly.

Some of their duties include:

Automated testing. DevOps engineers organize diagnostic checks to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

Maintaining CI/CD, also known as Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery. It’s an approach that automates communication between web developers, QA engineers, and sysadmins. If there are any problems with the app or the infrastructure, all parties are instantly notified, so updates roll out faster.

At Purrweb, our developers use AWS DevOps tools as well as other software like Docker, GitLab CI/CD, AppCenter, Vercel, and FastLine.

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9. SEO specialist

When creating web apps and websites, an SEO specialist comes in handy. Their main job is optimizing apps to improve their visibility in search engines. It helps drive organic traffic to the product. Essentially, the client gets new customers without paying for ads and targeted campaigns.

If we’re talking about development from scratch, SEO specialists come into play once the main bulk of the work is done. They analyze the technical aspects of the web app and its architecture, which may influence search engine ranking. Also, SEO specialists compile lists of keywords and other things a web app should have to stay on top of the search results.

How to manage a web development team

Now that we’ve discussed the main roles and responsibilities, how do you go about assembling a team? Do you hire one from scratch or get an outsourcing agency to help? We collected 4 useful tips to keep in mind:

Choose a website development team that fits your product’s needs

No two apps are alike. Some companies already have a CTO or other figure that’s well-versed in development; the only thing they need are actual workers. Other companies have developers, but there’s no team lead to support them. 

We suggest choosing a website development team model that suits you best: hiring an in-house team, outstaffing, or outsourcing. Here are their main differences:

In-house teams  Outstaffing Outsourcing
Maintenance costs High Lower than in-house teams Lower than in-house teams
Onboarding staff Yes Yes No
Operating effectively under time constraints Not guaranteed Yes Yes
Fully delegating a project No, you’ll have to guide your team and track their progress No, it requires additional management Yes, the agency can make it from the ground up

Outsourcing. You sign a contract with an agency and delegate development to them. You don’t have to supervise anything, because the project managers are going to do that for you. All that’s left for you to do is check on progress every one to two weeks.

Outstaffing. It’s a great option if you’re lacking a specific developer. For example, you have designers and frontend specialists, but there’s nobody on your team to work on the backend. It’s different from hiring somebody full-time, as you don’t have to conduct interviews and pay for their benefits or taxes.

Hiring in-house teams. If you want a website development team that’ll stay devoted to your project for years to come — this is an option for you. However, it’s going to be expensive at first; you’ll have to conduct interviews and select candidates yourself. Also, you’ll have to pay bonuses and taxes for in-house team members.

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Think of the startup idea and potential limitations beforehand

It’s important to know what you want from the very beginning. It’s fine if some details aren’t set in stone yet, but if your idea is too hazy, implementing it will be difficult. Things like discovering potential demand, designing the web app, and choosing features are going to be a challenge.

When speaking to a project manager, don’t withhold anything

Make sure your development team knows everything that’s going on. If you find out that competitors have released a web app similar to yours or that investors are pulling out of the project — tell the manager immediately. They’ll help you figure out a plan to save the web development project or mitigate risks.

If the team has any questions for you, don’t keep them waiting

If you want development to go by faster, then be open to communication. The team will want to get your feedback on features, certain design choices, etc. Given that you’re the web app owner, your word is crucial. If you delay answering the team’s questions and stating your opinions, development may stall.

Summary

In this article, we told the most important details about web development teams. Among them are key signs like expertise and clear team structure as well as main web development team roles like project managers and system analysts.

If you want to hire a team that meets deadlines, easily communicates, and fits the budget, we suggest you contact us at Purrweb.

Here are three reasons why we’re a good fit:

✅ We have experience. Our developers have been working on apps in many different niches for over 10 years: from healthcare and fintech to education. Just tell us your project requirements, and we’ll be happy to assist you.

✅ We integrate changes on the fly. If you’ve thought of new features along the way, or the technical specifications of your web app aren’t set in stone, we’ll do our best to accommodate.

✅ We release apps on time. Our typical timeframe for MVPs is about 4 months, and development costs around $40,000. For this price, you’ll get a product that’s ready to be adored by customers.

Fill out the form below, and our business analyst will get in touch with you to discuss project requirements and pricing.

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