I remember in my tender age how simpler and seemingly normal even to most folks by then to refer every type of washing powder as Surf.
Yes I did and you know everyone was cool with it, no harm came with it. Everybody would be aware of what was being referred to, it was just any of those washing powders not necessarily a specific brand. Good old days.
Now with my topic issue, nowadays these terms are virtually interchangeable as web designers and developers differ the way they describe their services. The truth, however, is that the terms reference two fundamentally different aspects of the website building process requiring two unique skill sets.
The question now being, why is it important that you know the difference as you look for a web professional to build your company website?
Let’s take a closer look – Web design
Before we talk about anything, one critical procedure for every web designer should be to begin by determining a client’s website objectives then everything else follows. No, you can’t just go straight into fixing your fancy graphics into a client’s website before establishing their goals.-unless they are like those clients who “just” want it done.
You need to know the target market, how they would most likely want to interact with the website and or the service provider. From the client side try to figure out what they want to achieve by setting up a website, be it improved customer services or they want to use it as a hub for their stuff where they can drive more sales via linking their web content with other digital channels such as social media. (Facebook, Twitter etc)
So you will realise web designers may use several basic design principles to achieve an aesthetically pleasing layout which also offers excellent user experience.
These I will discuss later but in the meantime let’s find out what a graphic designer is all about.
As I like to call graphic designers creative experts, these folks’ main focus is on the look and feel of a website and I will tell you their pride lies in visual design.
What they do or should, of course, is to first get to know their client’s vision and then convert it into an artistic design that is pleasing to viewers or users of the website.
Graphic designers are mostly interested in how visitors interact with the website so these guys really put more effort in giving a website the most user-friendly interface.
Essentially, their biggest task is the selection of the most appropriate colours, layout, font and images which ultimately creates the whole personality of the website. Besides the aesthetic aspect, the usability of the website is a priority. Web designers create pages that the target market can relate to.
Take it this way; you would expect a nursery school website or just a website targeted at children to be designed with brighter colours, large fonts, and more images and less text. This would make the website attractive and captures the attention of the target audience.
Some of the most important web design principles
- Balance – It’s quite important for every web designer to create a balanced web layout. In web design, there are heavy (large and dark colours) and light (small and lighter colours) elements. These must be applied in correct proportion to achieve a balanced website design.
- Contrast – if you are a web designer you surely know that contrasting colours should be placed opposite one another on the colour wheel. So here is when you look at contrasting sizes, textures and shapes to define and draw attention to certain sections of the website.
- Emphasis – this calls for the web designer to avoid over-emphasis of certain web elements. For instance, you cannot have a web page highlighted more than 50% on the page layout; this would be so boring and distracting so to say.
- Compatibility-it’s equally important having a website accessible on multiple or portable devices such as tablets. In this age, you cannot risk designing one contrary to this.
So what about web development?
Web developers, many call them programmers, make use of the design created to build a fully functional website. These are the people behind the smooth functionality of every single feature visitors interact with on a website.
They take care of all the behind-the-scenes of a website.
So, in other words, I refer web design as a non-interactive “picture” of a website. Why so? This is because web developers take the design and break it up into a system that is “live”. I’m talking about a system at this point that now allows you to give commands and get responses with just a click.
Let’s say you find something interesting on my website, you want to share with your friends on social media, and the share button works just as it’s supposed to, that’s what my developer is about – bringing life to every feature or icon on that website.
So these guys, of course, use some specific tools or coding languages in building websites. Some would just use HTML or even a more dynamic approach incorporating programming languages such as PHP to develop the various website pages.
Web developers may choose to utilise Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla in order to streamline development and allow clients an easy way to maintain and update their website.
I’m sure you now have the understanding that these guys are capable of converting a static layout into a dynamic website by using image and content sliders, responsive or active links and buttons, and other interactive elements.
So they are usually more technical in nature. And they tend to have excellent problem-solving skills. Although web developers are sometimes referred to as programmers, their skills usually exceed those of a conventional software developer. Think of a web developer as more of a technical expert with programming skills.
Therefore, as you have seen, there is a thin line between these two skill sets since web designers can also be able to do what a developer does and vice versa.
It would be a hell of a deal though to have a team or at least one, who posses both skills which can be useful in web project management.