ROLE OF WEB DESIGNERS AND WEB DEVELOPERS IN WEB INDUSTRIES
When I meet new people and they ask me what I do for a living, I often reply that I am a “web designer.” I use this term because it is a safe “catch all” phrase that lets people know what I do, in general, without confusing them with a too-specific job title that someone outside of the web industry would likely not understand.
The fact that the term “web designer: is a generalization is helpful in instances like I have just described, when you are speaking with someone who is not a web professional, but when you are speaking with someone in the web industry, that generalization may not be enough to explain what it is that you do.
In truth, many people use the two terms “web design” and “web development” interchangeably, but they really do have two very different meanings. If you’re looking for a new job in the web design industry, or if you are someone looking to hire a web professional to build a website for you or your company, you need to know the difference between these two terms and the skillsets that come with them. Let’s take a look at these two terms.
Web design is the most common term used for professionals in this industry. Oftentimes, when someone says they are a “web designer” that are referring to a very broad set of skills, one of which is visual design.
The “design” part of this equation deals with the customer-facing or “front end” part of the website. A web designer is concerned with how a site looks and how the customers interact with it .Good web designers know how to use the principles of design to create a site that looks great. They also understand about web usability and how to create sites that are user friendly. Their designs are one that customers want to navigate around because it’s so easy to do so. Designers do much more than make a site “look pretty” – they truly dictate the usability of a website’s interface.
Web development comes in two flavors – front-end development and back-end development. Some of the skills in these two flavor overlap, but they do have very different purposes in the web design profession.
A front-end developer takes the visual design of a website (whether they created that design or it was handed to them by a visual designer) and builds it in code. A front-end developer will use HTML for the structure of the site, CSS to dictate the visual styles and layout, and perhaps even some Java script. For some small sites, front-end development may be the only kind of development that is needed for that project. For more complex projects, “back-end” development will come into play.
Back-end development deals with the more advanced programming and interactions on web pages. A back-end web developer focuses on how a site works and how the customers get things done on it using certainly functionality. This could include working with code that interfaces with database or creating features like Ecommerce shopping carts that connect to online payment processors and more. Good web developers may know how to program CGI and scripts like PHP. They will also understand about how web forms work and how different software packages and APIs (application programming interfaces) can be used to connect those different kinds of software together to create solutions that will meet a specific customer’s needs for their online presence.
Back-end web developers may also be required to create new functionality from scratch if there are no existing software tools or packages that can be leveraged to meet their clients’ needs.
MANY PEOPLE BLUR THE LINES
While some web professionals specialize or focus on certain areas, many of them blur the lines between different disciplines. They may be most comfortable working with visual designs using programs like Adobe Photoshop, but they may also know something about HTML and CSS and may be able to code some basic pages. Having this cross-knowledge is actually very helpful as it can make you much more marketable in the industry and better at what you do overall. A visual designer who understands how webpages are built will be better equipped to design those pages and experiences. Similarly, a web developer who has a grasp of the basics of design and visual communication can make smart choices as they code up pages and interactions for their project.
Ultimately, whether you have this cross knowledge or not, when you apply for a job or look for someone to work on your site, you need to know what you’re looking for — web design or web development. The skills you hire for will play an major role in the cost of what you will have to spend to get that work done. In many cases, design and front-end development for smaller, more straightforward sites will be much less (on an hourly basis) than hiring an advanced back-end coder. For larger sites and projects, you will actually be hiring teams that contain web professionals who cover all of these different disciplines.
From Beginning to Advanced and Everything in Between:
There is so much within the realm of Web Design.
- and much, much more…
No matter where you are along the path of Web design, there is sure to be something more for you to learn and grow. But how do you decide where to go next? Luckily, there are many different paths you can take and review, whether you are brand new to HTML and Web design or have been writing programs and DHTML for years.
If you’re just starting out on the Web design path, this is your stop. The beginning HTML resources cover the basics of HTML and building a Web page. The classes and tutorials will help you get started. The glossary will explain new terms. Plus you can learn more about the basic software you need to create a Web page.
Professional Web Designers:
Professional Web Designers focus a lot on the look and feel of Web pages. Many, if not most Web designers work as contractors or for contract design firms. This means that a lot of their focus needs to be on contracts, legal issues, and what to charge. But in order to get contracts, designers need to know how to create good layouts, write or manage excellent content, and then promote and market both themselves and the sites they create.
Professional Web Designers
Professional Web Programemrs:
Professional Web Programmers focus on the unseen part of Web pages. Things like the CGI, scripts, and programs that make Web sites work. Plus programmers work on the servers and keep them up and running. They manage the security of Web sites and Web pages. Web programmers often implement and manage content management systems and e-commerce portals. Being a Web programmer is often less glamourous than a Designer, but it is just as important a role.
Professional Web Programmers
XML is the next step in Web design and development. Many Web programmers move from standard Web programming into XML programming, and there are a lot of directions you can take within XML. Whether you want to focus more on multimedia and SMIL or you want to post documents for wireless devices with WML or XHTML Basic, XML is where that programming starts.
Know Where You Are on the Path:
Knowing where you are on the path of Web design is the first step to getting the information and resources you need to keep learning and growing in your choice.
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