It is very easy to assume that design and development are interchangeable terms and have the same meaning, as I also thought they were when I started learning web development. They don't. The role of each is completely different from the other.
In this article, we'll discuss their roles, how they're responsible for different aspects of building a website, and if you should hire a designer or developer for your website.
Let's think of a web designer as an architect that designs a plan of your house prior to it being built. They transform an idea, story, into a visually appealing design, and use this layout to build the user experience throughout the entire website. The person is usually well-versed in colour schemes, graphic design, typography and information flow.
The role of a web designer is one that is often underrated. In their designs, they need to integrate the best user experience and create a welcoming environment for the user. Some would say that designers are as important as developers, as without a great user interface and user experience, the development cannot be truly appreciated by the user.
Let's take a look at the main roles of a web designer:
- Using software tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD, or Figma to create the final layout design of the website
- Possess good skills in graphic design and logo design
- Have a good feel for user experience, to identify the simplest approach possible to attain the desired function. This includes the layout, buttons, images and the general format of the website.
- Keeping themselves up to date with the latest design trends. It’s also important to keep design consistency that is made popular from other web giant companies, such as Google, and Facebook. This makes the website environment and interfaces easier to navigate and use, as it is already familiar to the users' eyes.
- Integrate the colour palettes, typography and identity of the brand into the website.
If designers can be compared to architects, developers are the construction workers that take these architectural drawings and execute them, transforming the vision into a building. This is where it gets really technical.
Web development is the process of building, creating and maintaining websites and web applications. It's the work that turns a design layout (wireframe) into a functioning website, ensuring it runs smoothly, loads fast, and delivers a seamless experience to the user.
Generally, web development is split into two main categories: front-end development, which is user-facing, and back-end development, which refers to the server maintenance side. A full-stack developer looks after both front-end and back-end needs and provides input of user experience and business logic.
Here are some of the roles of a web developer:
- Building the actual interface through which a user interacts with the website. This interface is built by front-end developers using HTML, CSS, and JS languages.
- Front-end developers provide the markup design to back-end developers, so they can implement a dynamic website, and submit all the required data on the server and databases.
- Back-end developers create the backbone of the website using languages such as PHP and MySQL.
- Both front-end and back-end developers can use the same development environments or IDEs (Integrated Development Environment). These are software application tools where you code and build the structure of the website.
Hopefully, this article has given you insight into the key differences between a web developer and a web designer. So, should you hire a web designer or a web developer?
If you need someone to create visuals for your website, including the brand style, layout, information flow, and user interfaces, you’ll be looking to hire a web designer.
When you have the mockups and wireframes provided by the web designer, you’ll need a front-end web developer to code them up. Using front-end coding languages, the developer will transform these designs into a functioning website – you’ll have clickable, scrollable elements, site navigation, and content styling that matches your brand guidelines.
You might then need the help of a back-end developer, who will take care of all server-side programming, third-party integrations, and programs that are necessary to power a website’s server and database.
I hope this article has given you all the clarity you need going forward.
Until next time,
This is the first article I've published on this platform. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Stay tuned for more.