It may be unfortunate but a lot of us easily get web developers and designers mixed up. It’s probably why these two terms are practically used interchangeably nowadays. However, you have to understand that both are fundamentally different though they’re involved in the same website building process.

Why should you know the distinction between these two? That’s because you could be seeking a web developer when it’s a designer that you actually need. Of course, mistaking one for the other can only lengthen the time spent building (or fixing) a functional and aesthetic website.

Web Design and Development Defined

What you need to know about the former is that it refers to the aesthetic portion of a website. To come up with visual elements and viable layouts, designers primarily work with programs such as Adobe Photoshop.

On the other hand, web development is the process wherein the said layout is broken down into various working components and assembled into a functioning website. Developers use CSS, HTML, PHP, Javascript, and other programming languages to bring those visual components to life.

Web Design in a Nutshell

The design process begins with understanding a website’s objective, which then moves on to Information Architecture (IA). The IA is where the designer sets the website’s information hierarchy that’ll help guide everyone through the whole design phase. From here, the web design team creates wireframes before finally getting to the actual designing. 

For the most part, design teams operate on basic design principles to come up with an appealing layout that doesn’t compromise on user experience. To do that, they have to take these factors into consideration.

  • Balance – A balanced layout is one that uses a correct proportion of light (small and light colors) and heavy elements (large and dark colors).
  • Unity – This factor is based on the Gestalt theory that highlights how the human brain visually organises information by grouping elements into categories. In web design, unity is achieved by making sure the various parts of the website layout seem like a harmonious whole.
  • Emphasis – Any website will have certain visual elements it will intentionally highlight to encourage site visitors to perform a certain action. For a designer to know which components to emphasise, reviewing the Information Architecture helps.
  • Contrast – A good website design will incorporate this basic color theory and use contrasting textures, shapes, and colors to draw a user’s attention to a particular section of the domain.
  • Consistency – Incorporating this design principle into a website means aiming to create clean and consistent navigation throughout, which is good when the goal is to aim for the best user experience possible.

Clearly, designers are the visionaries who decide how a website should look like.

Web Development in a Nutshell

Programmers, which people often call as web developers, take the layout made by the designer and build a functioning website from it. Think of the design as a non-interactive illustration of a website, which the developer has to break into several, practical components. To do so, they’ll use HTML or a more dynamic approach like incorporating PHP or any other programming language to develop various web pages. Advanced programmers may even utilise a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla for them to streamline the development phase. This also comes with the added benefit of affording clients an easy way to update and maintain their own domain.

To put it simply, developers convert a static layout or blueprint into a dynamic, interactive website. They do so by using active states (for links and buttons), image and content sliders, and other possible interactive elements.

Do You Need a Developer or a Designer?

Even with the basic understanding of what web designers and web developers do, you may still be a little confused about who to call for what job. You need to know when it’s most appropriate to call either one because it’ll ensure a faster and smoother website building process.

To begin with, let’s look at what a web designer can do for you. You’ll need one if you need to get a new homepage layout done. A designer will also come in handy when you’ve got a photo and video materials that you want edited to fit into your company’s branding efforts. And if you need to overhaul your current website and conceptualise a new website branding, you’ll certainly need his or her expertise. 

Meanwhile, web developers are involved in less fancy stuff. For instance, it’s within their area of expertise building a new contact form for your website. If you’re having hosting issues or server problems and your website is down or inaccessible, a programmer can help to sort this one out, too. And if you’ve got plans to create a mobile app for your company, these folks are the ones to call.

In reality, it doesn’t always have to be getting one or the other. You’ll need the two when the goal is to make a website from scratch, after all. Both heads will have to come together because websites have visual elements and back-end components to work with. This is why it’ll be much easier on your end to tap web design agencies, especially when you don’t have the time to manually assign which task to who. These agencies have a team full of experts and they can save you from juggling between managing the business and building a website.

Which One to Call? 

Designers are visually creative ones and focus on user experience more. Meanwhile, developers are the ones who set up a website’s core structure using coding languages. Web designers come up with a blueprint of how the website will look like and the developers use their programming knowledge to breathe life into that vision. 

Although most companies looking to redesign an existing website or building a new one often gets confused by the blurred lines between web design and development, it helps to think of designers as architects and developers as construction workers. Both may have different skill sets but you’ll certainly need both of their expertise to build a digital structure that’s functional and attractive enough to garner the attention of many netizens dropping by.

Whichever of the two you need, contact our highly experienced team of web experts and get a hand with your website building plans today!