The terms Web Designer and Web Developer are often used synonymously, yet they refer to two distinct functions. It is important from the perspective of both the service provider and end-user to ensure that the difference is clearly understood. In order to clarify these two functions one should first explore web design and web development.
Web design dictates the overall look and feel of a website including the layout, navigation and colour-scheme. It may incorporate designing of the logo and company graphics. It relates to aesthetics and user experience rather than functionality. A Web Designer as opposed to Web Developer is responsible for this design process that renders a website user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The designed product will not typically include any code. However, the graphic representation is utilized by the same person or typically another as a foundation for the coding. The graphic of the website is separated into two parts that can be represented by pure graphics and the other by specific code that will enable certain functionality or features.
This process enables the functionality and features of a website. It entails the back-end programming rather than the graphic face of a website. Web development functions incorporate registration, content management systems, e-commerce and any database applications. This draws the distinction for a Web Designer, where a Web Developer handles this process, which enables users to navigate, carry out actions and interact with the site.
Web Design Skills
A proficient Web Designer will possess graphic design skills, creativity and marketing competence. He or she will be capable of capturing the attention of users and and in doing so persuade them to explore the site. Normally a creative individual the designer is someone able to translate a concept to an actualised visual illustration of the website.
Web Development Skills
A good Web Developer is usually more analytically inclined, possessing excellent programming skills and adept to use various programming tools. He or she will be able to provide solutions to enable functionality of a site. For instance, the creation of an online booking system for a salon that updates in real time and is linked to the administrators email.
Web Design Tools
Design software such as Photoshop, Flash and Fireworks are used to create the front-end of the site. Designers will generally be knowledgeable in the area of typography, colour theory as well as web accessibility.
Web Development Tools
Most designers and developers will be familiar with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which are two core technologies for building web pages.
There may be an overlap of skills between the Web Designer and Web Developer. It is uncommon though to find individuals who are simultaneously excellent designers and developers. Much of the confusion has arisen due to the generic use of the term web design, which is often used to describe the complete design and development of websites. What is important is to understand the difference and the need for both designer and developer in the production of a quality site. Ultimately professionals responsible for design and development are equally important, being in charge of two relevant processes, which produce a common working objective – a live function website!