Quite often, web design is used interchangeably with web development, but are the two synonymous? In this article, I take a look at what web design entails in a bid to enlighten those who would like to pursue a career in web development and those who just want to satisfy their curiosity on the subject.
Web development and its 3 heads
The web development process generally involves three main phases. These are web designing, front-end development, and back-end development. Each stage is normally done by a person who specializes in that particular phase of development, although there are some web developers with more than one skill. A person with skills in web design, front-end, and back-end development is known as a full-stack web developer.
Not all developers end up as full-stack developers. If you identify with the philosophy that a jack of all trades is a master of none, then you should be content with specializing in one aspect of web development- like web designing.
A web designer plays a crucial role in the creation of webpages. A webpage is a document you access when you visit a website. The two words-webpage and website- are sometimes used interchangeably, but that is a story for another day. So what does a web designer do?
Designing the web…
The web designer creates a layout of elements that appear on a web page. The elements range from text, images to videos.
A logo and favourite icon (favicon), are among images that can be found on a webpage. The logo and favicon are part of a brand. Sometimes the web designer is tasked to design the brand or to ensure that existing images are in a certain format and size for the best user experience(UX). The logo typically appears on the navigation panel of a webpage while the favicon is visible in a web browser’s history and it may also appear on home screens of mobile devices.
Fonts and colours on a webpage are also chosen by a web designer and they usually resonate with the brand. The web designer comes up with colour scheme codes for use by developers later in the development process since colours are rarely referred with their names in web development. The web designer also makes sure that the correct fonts are used. Now you might be wondering what skills should a web designer possess?
Skills you need to possess
A web designer should be creative and normally has to learn graphic design or to master tools used in the creation of web designs.
The most important tool is used to create wireframes. A wireframe is a layout or illustration of what a web page should look like. It shows the positioning, shape, and colour of buttons as well as the size and position of images and other resources.
The web designer does not necessarily need to have skills in HTML or CSS, although that would be an added advantage. Programming skills are not important in web designing because the tools used in creating wireframes make it possible to export the webpage layout with the complete HTML and CSS done automatically.
Once a web designer has finished exporting the wireframe, the file can be uploaded to a web server and become a fully functional webpage on a website.
Fleshing out the development process
However, more functionality might need to be added to the webpage and that is the role of a front-end developer to make sure that buttons work as intended when clicked or to make the webpages dynamic.
If there are forms on the webpage or if a database needs to be connected to the webpage, then a back-end developer chips in to finish the development process.
The next time you view a slick webpage, remember one thing. It all started with a web design that was then brought into life using various web technologies. I strongly believe that you have learned a few things and aspiring web developers can now make an informed decision regarding the path to follow when choosing a web development career.
Stewart Mukonzi is a Full Stack Web Developer and Freelance Photojournalist.