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What Web Developers and Web Designers Actually Do

15th November 18

Meet the superheroes of the tech world: web designers and web developers.

Designers and developers are behind every website you visit, every app you use and the social media platforms that keep us all connected. They keep the internet and technology user-friendly across a variety of platforms, such as mobile and tablet, which in turn safeguards businesses and the economy in our increasingly tech-based world. But what actually is the difference between web design and web development? And what does each role involve?        

Web Developers

Web developers focus on ‘how it works’.

They’re the tech heads that have built the foundations of every website you have ever visited. They work behind the scenes to ensure that all code, programming and web applications run smoothly to optimise user experience, e.g. quick load times and secure web transfers. Web developers are logically and mathematically minded and are excellent problem-solvers.

What they do, amongst many other things:

  • Create and maintain fully functional websites and software from scratch
  • Plan and prototype reliable and high-performing applications to suit client needs
  • Write code (what runs websites and brings them to life) in a variety of programming and coding languages including JavaScript, PHP, C#, Java, HTML and Python
  • Document their code so other developers can utilise them and develop them further
  • Build databases and Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for data exchange between applications
  • Test all website features/links and fix any bugs that may impair website performance
  • Decide on the most appropriate technologies for individual projects
  • Keep up to date with technological advances by visiting workshops and attending conferences to improve skillset and advance techniques

Web developers can specialise in either ‘front-end’, ‘back-end’ or ‘full-stack’ development. Front-end development relates to anything that the user sees, hears or clicks on when they visit a website, such as videos and drop-down menus. Because these elements are user-facing, front-end web developers work closely with web designers when implementing these visual features. Back-end developers are involved with data and databases and write code to make sure that websites and applications run smoothly, free from any glitches. Full-stack development is ultimately when front and back-end development come together. Full-stack developers will have a full, comprehensive understanding of all things tech and can develop all elements of a fully functional website.

Group of web developers working on a project in a modern office.

Web Designers

Web designers focus on ‘how it looks and feels’ to the user.

They’re the people behind every website visual and web page that a customer sees, including colour, typography and layout. They know what looks good on a page and understand how visual experience impacts customer satisfaction when navigating a website. Web designers are creative and have excellent knowledge of visual design trends and how these can be transferred to the tech world.

What they do, amongst many other things:

  • Create and draw up detailed website specifications and plans
  • Design sample page layouts and mock websites (text size, colours and information placement) for client acceptance
  • Design visual imagery such as graphics and animations in keeping with a client’s brand and specifications
  • Keep search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind when designing
  • Know their audience and understand what they want visually from a website (bright colours for children etc.)
  • Edit content: proofread written content and manipulate digital images
  • Test websites to check for link and feature functionality
  • Redesign outdated or ineffective websites

Web designers ensure exceptional user experience (UX) by planning and designing the best structure for the user’s journey throughout the website, both visually and technically. Because of this, they work closely with front-end web developers and often have a good understanding of coding and other development processes so that they’re able to make their designed elements appealing and functional. This also enables them to understand how what they have created works and vice versa for web developers; by working with designers they understand how all the processes link to form the finished product. Web designers work closely with clients and often other designers, such as graphic designers, to plan and produce something truly engaging and unique.

man designing website on whiteboard

To develop or to design, that is the question…

Although web development and web design are separate job roles, they go together like bread and butter. There is a lot of crossover and collaboration between the two because they have the same goal in mind: to create a user-friendly and functional website for a specific client or brand. Without website developers, there would be no one to bring a designer’s visions to life, and without web designers, nobody would be attracted to, or would be able to easily use, the sites that are developed.

learndirect recognises the link between the two which is why we have developed our Level 3 Certificate in Web Design and Development (RQF)  to give you an understanding of web design and development. So whether you want to be a designer or a developer, or you’re not sure which route to take, you can get the best of both worlds to make sure you’re prepared either way.

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