In reality, these are two very different disciplines – and they require unique talents and skill sets. But despite their different areas of expertise, web designers and web developers work closely together to produce complete websites.
Let’s look at these two synergistic functions in detail.
What is web design?
Web designers focus on the aesthetics and visual layout of the site, as well as its overall usability and user-friendliness – known as the user experience (UX).
Guided by the client’s digital marketing and website goals, the web design team will establish an information architecture that clearly defines the hierarchy and flow of content on the site. This lays the foundation for the UX – and it’s always a challenge to find a good balance between making information easy to find and cluttering the site with too much content.
Web designers then create a wireframe of the website, which maps out all structural and functional elements. Once this has been approved, the creative process begins and it’s time to begin designing the various elements that contribute to the overall look and feel of the online brand experience.
If the client is just starting out, the web designer can develop a brand logo – and even a corporate identity – from scratch. This forms the foundation for the look and feel of the entire site. Sometimes, even if there is an existing corporate identity in place, this needs to be adapted to suit the mobile and online environment. The web design process takes a wide range of visual elements into account, including colour palettes, typesetting, composition and more.
Once the designs for each web page have been completed, the designers hand this over to the developers.
What is web development?
Web developers are software engineers (also known as programmers) that convert static web design files into dynamic and fully functional websites. Web developers break down these designs and then code them to create a range of interactive elements that let the user navigate through the site and quickly find the information he or she needs.
The more complex website builds also include back-end development, which deals with the more sophisticated interactions on web pages. When developing the back-end, the developer focuses on making the website work and enabling users to access the functions they need in order to achieve their goals. Often, web developers must write code that enables the website to pull in information from specific data repositories, or purchase products using shopping carts that are integrated with online payment processors.
There are various ways to approach web development as a whole. At Kri8it, we typically use WordPress as a content management system (CMS) for a more efficient and organised development process, as well as to provide our clients with an easy way to maintain their websites once we have handed these over to them. This gives our clients the agility to respond quickly to business changes, without having to rely on their web development team to carry out every content update or price change for them.