There is a debate in the web design/development community over the title of web designer vs. web developer. This is the kind of debate where one group thinks it’s better than the other group and both groups can sufficiently present reasons supporting their positions and ultimate superiority. So what’s the brouhaha about? And which group is better?
Web design is a medium best worked by web designers. Or so the web designers say. The internet is visual and the proper design will put your web site in the best light and will also position your web site to be successful. You’ll find graphic designers in this group and non-techie people who don’t have the mindset, desire, or time and ability to learn computer programming. Plus, web designers in pure web design mode will tell you that programming skills are not needed to make a web site successful. It’s the visual element that will draw visitors in and its this visual element that will keep visitors coming back.
The visual element of a web site is indeed very important. Understanding design layout and color schemes are also very important. Web designers are right about this, however it’s the content that brings visitors to your web site and it is the content that will encourage visitors to return to your web site.
Web development is a specialized medium for building web sites that goes beyond what a web designer can build. Web developers understand the code and complexities behind successful web sites. They’ve spent time learning different programming languages and they’ve spent time learning how to build interactive web sites that present content to visitors in an easy way. Web developers understand that a web site needs to be more than just a pretty face. A web site needs to have substance and cross-browser compatibility.
The code that goes into a web site and issues of cross-browser compatibility are as important as the visual elements that create the user interface of a web site.
On the internet, new titles pop up all the time such as Information Architect or User Interface Architect. This is a new breed of web designer/developer that builds RIAs or Rich Internet Applications. A lot of them don’t consider themselves to be either designers or developers but architects presenting information to consumers in a more future-proof and convenient medium. But a good amount of them started as either web designers or web developers.
Being a web designer is not better than being a web developer, and being a web developer is not necessarily better than being a web designer. They both have their strengths, and it’s truly philosophy and training that separates the two groups.