The realm of digital marketing and website creation is a new and confusing one. You may be one of the business owners who is looking to start your journey into a strong web presence - and are thinking that it may be time to contact a web designer. However, an easy mistake to make is becoming confused between the two titles - web designer, and web developer. In short, these roles are quite different and are often grouped to describe the single function of building a website. WebAdelaide has written the following article to break down the differences between these two concepts.
The term ‘web designer’ is sometimes used as the blanket title to describe multiple roles within this space, yet the specific role is a unique and niche one. Often a web designer's job is thought of as the entire process of building a website, but the more accurate description relates this role to the overall aesthetic and user relations of a website. Simply put, a web designer handles the style and ‘feel’ of a website, rather than the actual ‘building’ process.
The web designer starts their process by taking into account the overall goals of the client, and how the layout of the website, and the accessibility, will aid in achieving these goals and relaying the information to the target audience. Web designers are incredibly informed when it comes to colour schemes and what constitutes visual stimulations. This means that the great web designers out there are experienced in design facets such as colour scheming, graphic design, and web positioning for optimal results. Experienced and knowledgeable web designers will be able to make a site look amazing and functional (an extremely important component for first impressions). This ability to design a website that is appealing to the eye also comes from experience and knowledge in colour palettes and graphic design.
However, the designer's job doesn't stop there. They take this knowledge regarding the aesthetic appeal of the general public and develop a plan that also makes the user’s internet experience a friendly one. When building a template or a plan, a web designer will place ‘call to action’ buttons accordingly and create subtle emphasis on the most important areas of the website to ensure the user is looking in the right place. Commonly, the goal of the designer is to make an effective layout for a website that is easy to navigate and extremely informative.
A web designer will also focus on the entire composition of the website, ensuring that there is a cohesive and connected layout to the full site. As people organise and construct information in their heads differently, a designer will ensure that the necessary and vital information is presented orderly and that the website is connected seamlessly, making the overall navigation of the site simple. So, the role of designers isn’t just to orchestrate the look of the site, but to also focus on the user, and how they could potentially interact with the different pages.
The web developers handle the next phase of the process and ultimately lead the production of the website culminating in the final product the client has requested. The developer will take the design and break it into various components. Using code, the developer will then produce the web pages using a very specific skill set to do so.
There are backend and frontend developers, who are responsible for different areas of the development process. The frontend developers create the aesthetic outlined by the designer for the website, focusing on things such as the overall style and layout of the site. The role of a frontend developer overlaps that of a web designer regarding definition, however, their primary role is creation, rather than planning, design and organising options for the everyday user. To differentiate a frontend developer from a web designer often comes down to coding ability. Similarly, a developer does not focus on the colours, typography and layout of a site, but builds these concepts into a fully functioning website based on the designer's requirements. This is the first section of the web development phase, and after its completion, a backend developer is responsible for the fundamentals.
The backend process focuses on the functionality of the site, which means concentrating on the responses of the site regarding user interaction. Often this phases involves the creation of the more complex areas of the site. In many cases sites implement a page that has the sole purpose of conducting e-commerce transactions - the backend developer would handle the creation of this section. The backend developer handles the data process and delivers it to the site created by the frontend developer, therefore constructing all aspects of the site regarding databases. If a site requires an option where a user inputs personal information, and it must be stored, or if there is information that can be saved to an external site, the development is more complicated. These types of functions are created during the backend development stage.
In summary, web developers take a website design and turn it into a fully functioning site by building it from the ground up based on the designer and client’s vision. It is easy to get confused between these two job titles, but there is a definable difference, and by understanding that difference, you will be able to make any web design/development process you go through an easier one.