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web design vs web development

Website Design vs Website Development

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the titles used to describe jobs in my industry… Web Designer, Web Developer, Webmaster, Programmer, Graphic Artist, etc…

The terms that get mixed up most often are Website Designer and Website Developer. So, what’s the difference? Quite a bit! Although the terms are very similar, they are technically very different. It is important to know the difference. Especially when you are in need of a new website or some changes to an existing website.

Below is a quick summary of each field, to help clear up the important differences for each job.

Website Design

This is the critical, first step of any website project. Website Designers create flat image files to show the client what the website will look like. It is during this process that decisions of color scheme, fonts and styles are made.

Aesthetics / What the Site Looks Like

Handled by Graphic Artists or Developers

Uses Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator) or other design software

Does Not Include Development

Website Development

Web Developers take the approved website design and turn it into the live, functioning website. This step includes software installation, coding, graphics and image creation, troubleshooting, etc.

Functionality / What the Site Does

Handled by Programmers or Developers

Uses a Variety of Web Based and Desktop Software to write code

Does Include Design

The Designer / Developer Hybrid

Website development can (and often does) include website design. Conversely – website design does not include website development. Simply put – someone that develops and builds websites has a very different, and perhaps wider skill set than someone that only designs websites. Meaning – Developers should be able to write code – PHP, HTML, CSS and have a good technical understanding of the software framework they are working with (development). They should also be able to create graphics / images and have a good eye for aesthetics (design). There is no way you can develop a website without the ability to create sized images, for example.

I consider myself a Website Developer, because I design and develop websites. I always tell clients I am a Developer / Programmer first and foremost. Web Application Development and Computer Programming is what I studied in college and is the field I worked in professionally before freelancing full time. Being able to write the code to build a 100% customized WordPress-like software application is very fulfilling. It is a field that requires logical and methodical thinking and I truly enjoy it.

Design is now also a huge part of my work. At times, I build websites from a design created by a graphic artist that my client has hired. Other times, I design and and build the website completely. Both options are great for different reasons. Creating a website from another designer allows me to think outside the box – creating the graphics to bring the design to life. When I design websites – I am able to stretch my artistic and creative abilities.

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