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Web design vs web development is an interesting debate and somewhat confusing. Especially, when you are first stepping into the web design and development world.
You might think, well, as a graphic designer, I would get to put my creative side into motion and create aesthetically pleasing web designs. But your lack of proper design training worries you and you realize this might not work out.
Then you get inspired by the list of some of the highest paying programming languages and dream of becoming a web developer. That enthusiasm is short-lived. You realize this might be a little boring even though you’d be able to earn big bucks.
This thought process makes you run in circles and can be rather taxing, especially when you’re first starting out and you don’t have a clue what to do. In this article, we are going to discuss the differences between the two and hopefully, make your life a little easier.
Web Design vs Web Development – The Difference
Some developers play both roles because there is a lot of crossover between the two fields. However, web designers and web developers play very different roles. Today, we will get into the specifics of the roles, tools, and expectations of these two different fields.
To understand the subject better, let’s first understand what is a web developer vs web designer?
Let’s use an analogy from the automobile industry here. A web designer is similar to a person who designs the aesthetics of the car. The look and feel of the interior and exterior, the colors, the lines, and the overall visual experience & personality of the car.
A web developer is like an automotive engineer. He/she is responsible for all the components like the engine, transmission, wiring, etc. Making sure the car runs and performs well. But just like the engine is useless without the car and vice versa. The two, inevitably, have to go together.
This means either the web developer and web designer will be one person or the two have to work as teammates. Allowing them to utilize each other’s strengths & skills to accomplish project goals.
In web designing or designing, in general, the tools of the trade are going to be the ones that enhance the aesthetics of a product or service. These include software like Photoshop, UI design tools, or UX design programs.
With these tools, a web designer can manipulate the look & feel of any sort of design such as print design, web design, or product design. So these apps and software will allow designers to create things to look at.
It is also important to have a sound understanding of not only the tools but also the principles & foundations of design. We are talking about basic things like colors, spaces, lines, forms, and all related aspects. This is the realm of the designers and yes, web designers too.
Now, as a web designer, you don’t necessarily need to know how to code. You can work purely as a designer in web development companies or as a freelancer. However, knowing or understanding how code works will help you design better websites. Knowing what possible and what’s not. What needs to be documented and what needs to be explained. That is the sign of a good web designer.
Web development, in general, is about learning and implementing programming languages to either create the front-end or back-end of a website. So if, for instance, you dip into the back-end development, which btw a lot of developers do, you’d be working with server-side languages such as PHP or Ruby.
A Typical Day at Work
When talking about web design vs web development, how the daily routine is like is also important to consider before opting for a suitable career.
A web designer spends most of the day looking for design inspiration, making visual sense, and trying to visually communicate a brand’s message. Their daily tasks can include anything from wireframing, mood boarding, creating brand logos, and animations. They will be doing everything & anything visual.
Web developers spend their day learning, speaking, thinking, and implementing code. They’ll be receiving the visuals and documentations from the web designers and then turning them into something functional. Web developers and designers will be working in tandem with each other. This is important for making sure that the desired functionality is achieved without compromising on the style & design of the website or app.
Which one is the right field for you?
If visuals pique your interest and you like solving visual problems (design is problem-solving and not just about making pretty things), web designing will find you.
For instance; I think I can make this page look more elegant through this color. I can make the message stand out with a particular font. If you are someone who thinks like that, web designing is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you are a person who likes to analyze or someone who used to take a TV remote apart just to see how it works, then development might be your first choice.
At the end of the day, web design vs web development, it is all about personal preference. Try a little bit of both and see what brings you the most joy & satisfaction. Sometimes, the satisfaction from within trumps all the other monetary benefits.