Web designer taking on the role of a developer

Hi, I need some advice. I’ve been working for a small startup company as a lead designer for about 6 months now. I assist the lead developer with small backend task but nothing major. Mainly PHP/ WordPress stuff. Programming isn’t my strong suit even though I love learning and doing tutorials on PHP and JavaScript. I’m more of a copy and paste coder but do take the time to try and understand and research the things that I don’t understand and take plenty of notes and make alot of commits in my code. The lead developer is about to leave for another job which means that I’ll probably have to step up and take on some of his responsibilities. Mind you he’s been doing web development for over 10 years and I’ve been doing frontend development(mainly HTML5, CSS, jQuery) for about 3 1/2 years so my skills and problem solving ability doesn’t even come close to his.

I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle the responsibilities of being the only designer and handling the development side also. I’m not technically savy or great a trouble shooting and also suffer from impostor syndrome.

Do any developers have any advice for a designer who will soon be taking on responsibilities as a developer? Or have any stories where they had to step up and take on an unfamiliar role? Is this normal in web development? I feel so drained working at a startup. I do get alot of hands on experience but still am clueless when it comes to programming. I would love to be a so called unicorn but programming takes skills that sometimes I just can’t comprehend.

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It sounds like you’re not really looking forward to taking in the responsibilities of a developer. You say that you’re drained from the work your already have. Please be careful, is easy to burn out when you keep pushing and expecting more from yourself than you have the bandwidth to give.

Just in case you haven’t already asked yourself this: are you sure you want to keep on in this job? It sounds like the company had unrealistic expectations of you.

To answer your question: is not unheard of for a designer to become a developer, but I’ve never heard of it in the situation you’re describing. Usually the designers already know how to program and feel confident in their abilities.

In case you’re not aware: unicorns are mythical. I don’t say that entirely to be snarky. Everyone wants to feel special, and for some reason I don’t understand certain developers started self-labeling as unicorns. But really, it’s a silly word that implies a person thinks (or needs other people to think) that they are so amazing that they can be equated to nothing else in existence. First of all, how arrogant! , and second, I’d rather people know that I’m a dedicated, hard-working person than believe I have some gift granted by external forces out of anyone’s control. People understand and can relate to other people. It’s difficult to relate to a mythical animal. So, who are you? What is great about you, the person? And is this job and this company a good fit for that person?

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