You may hear the terms “web designer” or “web developer” and be a little confused. They’re the same thing, aren’t they?
These terms are often used interchangeably, it’s true. Companies will sometimes use both these terms when advertising the services they offer, as a way of “covering all their bases” However, a “web designer” and a “web developer” refer to two quite different aspects. They will each possess unique skill sets. While their roles may overlap in the development and construction of a website, their skills are employed in different areas during the website building process.
What’s a web developer?
A web developer, often called a programmer or a coder, builds a functioning website from the ground up. In actual fact, web development is the process through which any good website, mobile app or other similar web platform is created. A web developer writes the information, using HTML or other programming languages, which will enable the website to function correctly. He or she takes the concept of a website and turns it into a working site. Web developers will build very basic, static but functional, sites or more dynamic, interactive sites, utilising user interactivity. Elements such as links, buttons, content sliders and multi-functional images would all be included as part of a dynamic site. The web development languages are the platforms through which these specific instructions are communicated and subsequent actions are initiated.
What’s a web designer?
Before a web developer can proceed, he or she needs to know how it should all work. They need to have a good grasp of the vision the client has for the site. That’s where a web designer comes in.
A web designer, quite literally, designs the website. First, he or she will establish the objectives of the site; how the client wants it to work and what they want to achieve. The designer will then wireframe the website design. After that, a web designer finally moves into the design stage. A web designer and a web developer may work together at this point to build the different aspects of a working website. Web designers will consider several aspects or principles of design when planning a website. A website should look good but it must also function well, provide a positive user experience and meet the client’s objectives.
- Layout – The website’s physical layout is an important aspect for web designers to consider. Web designers will ensure an even combination of heavy and light elements in order to create a balanced layout. A good website will combine both to best effect. It will also employ a good balance of images and content. A website needs to give relevant information, but not so much that the user is bored. Likewise, the appropriate use of images can provide visual anchoring for accompanying informational text.
- Colour – A web designer will balance the use of colour, using either contrasting colour for bold effect or complementary colour. Colour may be used to emphasise or highlight certain areas of a website.
- Arrangement – When arranging the various elements of a website, consistency is a critical web design principle. The journey through the website must make sense and be logical for the user. A well thought out navigation menu, for example, will provide visitors with a smooth and streamlined website experience.
- Integration – Ensuring the various parts of a website are well integrated and unified is another important consideration. The human brain organises information in a visual way, by grouping different elements into categories. This is the basis of what is known as the Gestalt theory. Utilising the principles of the Gestalt theory when designing a website will make the difference between a straightforward and inviting website, or a confusing and complicated website.
If you’re looking for a new website or a re-design of your current site, it’s important to consider the aspects of both web design and web development. A website should incorporate good design principles to provide for an enjoyable user experience. It should also utilise well thought-out programming language to ensure optimum functionality. Read more about the importance of a good web presence.