When it comes to websites, most people are familiar with the term web design and I’ve often been contacted by people who were looking for a web designer. I guess I can fulfill that role but my focus is more towards web development. What’s the difference?
Definitions are not firmly cast in stone, but web design really refers to the visual aspects of a website. Client side code is sometimes considered part of the process but design really is about what people actually see and interact with… the logo, page background, navigation, the typography, buttons and layout… the user interface in other words. A web designer would tend to spend their time in software like Adobe Photoshop, maybe Fireworks and some Illustrator.
Development requires focus, especially when working on something complex. When you get distracted you can end up making silly errors that cost you a lot of time trying to fix. Sometimes I prefer working at night as it is quiet and there are no phones ringing or emails that require prompt answers so it’s easier to focus and get things done quickly. I also find it very necessary when working on something complex to map out all the processes that need to take place before starting to write any code. That helps a lot and this is why it’s important to know what functionality is really required by the user early on too.
Web development is definitely more logic based. You have to be able to think in a sequential way and consider the ‘possibilities’. I usually get Justin and as many people as possible to test what I’ve done as the way a user interacts with something is sometimes unpredictable. They click on something you don’t expect and expose an error or something you forgot to consider. That’s where ‘considering the possibilities’ comes in.
Design is more creative but both worlds intertwine and depend on each other. It is the design that makes the difference between an attractive, friendly, usable site and one that people just don’t want to use but all the ‘workings’ are in the development.