When I was in the learning phase of web development, I found myself confused many times about the differences between design & development. I was thinking about the roles of a web designer and what is involved in working with web design. Are they the same thing? Are they interchangeable terms with the same meaning?
A web designer generally transforms an idea, or a story, into a visually appealing design, and their layout to build the user experience throughout the whole website. They design the website’s look and feel. As you know, an architect would create a plan of your house prior to starting building it, similarly, a web designer would model the layout of your website before a web developer can start developing or working in it.
Web designers are often underrated but they play a very difficult role. In their designs, they need to give the best user experience possible and create a welcoming environment for the user. They have to change an idea from writing, into a usable design and interface. A website can’t be described as great if a proper design strategy was not applied into the early stages of the project. Nowadays, web designers are rated at the same level of web developers, as without a great user experience, the development cannot be truly appreciated by the user.
Web designers have established a whole library of strategic methods for themselves. You don’t just create a perfect website immediately after reading the features required. You start with a scope — the focus point and the purpose that the website will offer. You would first start with a sketch or draft of the design. From sketching, web designers move to wireframes, mock-ups, and to the final design. Professional web designers build the whole website in design components, with a pixel-perfect layout of all the web pages, icons, typography and other intricate features.
There are some of the main roles of a web designer:
- Managing software tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Sketch to build the final layout design of the website
- Have a great feel for user experience, to identify the easiest way possible to achieve the desired function.
- Have good skills in graphic design and logo design
- Need to retain 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.
- Have to also keep in mind the branding of the website, color palettes to be used, and the typography and readability of the website.
Web developers are those who turn the designs into a live website. Web developers use web languages and software tools to develop the design and functionality of a website.
Notice, that web developers are further split into two sub-categories; front-end developers, and back-end developers. I see front-end developers as the connection between both web designers and back-end developers, as having a little knowledge of both, would allow a front-end developer to build a fully working website.
Back-end developers are those who control the server data and requests. Usually, a website requires back-end services if it contains dynamic data. This means, for example, users submitting a form with personal data (such as creating an account), or saving an article for your blog page. Generally, if the website requires data to be saved, and making it accessible at a later stage, it means that it would also need a database connection. Database connections are made possible by a direct connection from the server itself. Thus, a back-end developer then uses server languages such as PHP or ASP.NET and writes database queries by 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 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.
- Web developers may also use versioning tools to keep a history of the previous builds. This will help them to quickly and effortlessly move back to a previous “unbroken” version if required to do so.