In the early stages of learning about web development, you will be confused many times about the differences between design and development. What are the roles of a web designer? What does working in web design involve? Are web design and web development the same? Are terms interchangeable with the same meaning?
The simple answer would be no. The role of each is completely different from the other. But let’s take a look at the different roles and methods, both as a web designer and as a web developer.
Think of web designers as those who turn an idea or story into a visually appealing design and use their appearance to build the user experience across the entire website. They design the look of your website, for example, an architect would create a plan of your house before you start building it, similarly, a web designer would model the look of your website before a web developer to be able to start developing it.
Web designers have a difficult role, which is often underestimated. They must integrate the best possible user experience into their designs and create a welcoming environment for them. They need to turn an idea from writing into a usable design and user-friendly interface. A website cannot be described as excellent if an appropriate design strategy has not been applied in the early stages of the project. Nowadays, web designers are valued at the same level as web developers, because without a special experience and design of the user, the development cannot be really appreciated by the user.
Web designers have built an entire library of strategic techniques for themselves. That is why it is preferable not to create a perfect site immediately after reading or thinking about the necessary specifications or features. Start with one area of application – the focal point and purpose that the site will offer. You should first imagine your drawings in your head and start with a draft or a sketch of the design. From sketch, web designers move to patterns, layouts and final design. Professional web designers build the entire website into design components, with a perfect pixel layout for all web pages, icons, typography and other complex functions.
The main roles of a web designer
These are some of the main roles of a web designer:
- Use software tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Framer or Sketch to build the final design of the site.
- Good skills in graphic design and logo design.
- Feel good for the user experience, identify the simplest possible approach to achieve the desired function. This includes the layout, buttons, images and overall format of the website.
- Web designers need to keep up to date with the latest design trends. It is also important to maintain the consistency of the design, which is popularized by other web giant companies such as Google and Facebook. This makes the site environment and interface easier to navigate and use, as it is already familiar to users.
- Web designers must take into account the branding of the site, the color palettes that will be used and the typography and readability of the site.
Think of web developers as the ones who turn designs into a live website. Web developers use web languages and software tools to develop the design and functionality of a website. Keep in mind that web developers are divided into two subcategories: front-end developers and back-end developers. Consider that front-end developers are the connection between web designers and back-end developers, as having a little knowledge of both would allow a front-end developer to build a fully functioning website. A front-end developer is the one who builds the interface and provides the look as an interaction between the back-end part of the site and the user.
Back-end developers are the ones who control the data and requests of the server. A website usually requires back-end services if it contains dynamic data. This means, for example, that users submit a form with personal data (such as creating an account) or saving an article to your blog page. In general, if the website requires data to be saved and made accessible at a later stage, it means that it would also need a database connection. Database connections are possible through a direct connection from the server itself. Thus, a back-end developer uses server languages, such as PHP or ASP.NET, and writes database queries using languages such as SQL or MySQL.
Here are some of the main roles of a web developer:
- Building the actual interface through which a user interacts with the site. This interface is built by front-end developers using HTML, CSS and JS languages.
- Front-end developers provide bookmarking design to back-end developers so that they can implement a dynamic website and send all the necessary data to the server and database.
- 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 IDE (Integrated Development Environment). These are software application tools in which you code and build the structure of the website.
- Web developers can also use versioning tools to keep a history of previous builds. This will help them to quickly and effortlessly revert to an earlier “uninterrupted” version, if necessary.
Important ideas about design and development
What does a full-stack developer do?
Full-stack developers are those who have a good knowledge of all areas of development discussed above. This means that if you’re a full-stack developer, you should be able to build a website from scratch, from looking at a design and creating the design bookmark to managing back-end processes and database queries. Usually, a full-stack developer would also have basic knowledge about design and user experience. Being a complete developer does not mean that you have to be an expert in all languages. It is already difficult to become an expert or a professional only in one of the languages. It is also difficult to learn all the best techniques and strategies on how to be most effective in all the areas we have discussed above. Remember, web technologies are evolving every day.
Having a basic knowledge of everything about the web is always a plus, but I recommend that you stay with the one you enjoy the most and focus on becoming an expert in this regard. Once you feel comfortable developing your front end or back end, you can dedicate more time to those areas that need more attention.
I hope that now you will understand more clearly the difference between the roles of web developers and web designers. Keep in mind that both have essential roles, and the web would not exist without one or the other. I can tell you that nothing will come easier than the rest. If you work as a front-end developer and interact regularly with both designers and back-end developers, you will see that all the roles we have just discussed have their own aspects in one way or another. Just keep in mind that focusing on one language at first is the best way to start on your own. Once you motivate yourself and take the first step, the rest will be less challenging.
Thank you for your attention and I hope you found the article useful to better understand the difference between web design and web development.