Designers and developers. They do the same thing, right?
This is a question I’ve had come up quite a bit, both in Facebook groups and my inbox.
The truth is, although designers and developers both play a big part in creating a website, the two are drastically different. In this post, we’ll go over what a designer is, what a developer is, benefits of working with both, and whether or not one person can do both design and development.
Designers – What do they do?
You can think of designers as the more visual and creative of the two.
Designers are usually responsible for all visual aspects of a website. Things like:
- Placement and layout
The items listed above come together to form a complete mockup of a website, using programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
When a designer and developer team up on a project, the designer will generally end up with an exact picture of what the completed website will look like and that’s where the developer comes in.
Here’s an example of what I was given in one of my last projects:
This folder contained all the fonts, colors, graphics, and mockups I needed:
And here’s an example of one of the mockups in an image format:
Developers – What do they do?
If you’re thinking about designers as the more visually creative, developers are more technical and logical.
Developers are responsible for everything related to the coding and maintenance of a website. Things like:
- Optimizing websites for mobile devices
- Troubleshooting anything that doesn’t work correctly
- Routine maintenance and updates
The goal of developers is to take the mockups and materials handed over from the designer and create an exact replica in the form of a working website.
Here’s the website I created from the mockup I showed you above!
Can’t one person do both?
The short answer: Absolutely!
The longer answer is…sometimes “yes”, sometimes “no”, and sometimes “kinda”.
There are a select few people who are amazingly talented in both design and development. Those people can be responsible for projects from branding, to design, to coding, all the way to ongoing maintenance.
But those people are few and far between.
Most of us are passionate about either design or development and then learn as much as we need to so we can get by with the other half. So you’ll end up with a designer who does development or a developer who does design.
This is fine, but sometimes the results can be a bit limiting. For example, I’ll pick on myself. If you asked me to design and develop a homepage for you and I decided to take on the project without calling in a designer (which I wouldn’t), your homepage would be wonderfully developed, but the design aspect might not be quite what you’d hoped.
On the other hand, if you work with a designer for the entire process of creating your WordPress website, your design will be gorgeous, but would likely be limited in terms of special features. Many designers are good at designing “around” their knowledge and don’t get quite as creative as they’d be able to if they were working with a developer.
The benefits of working with each
That leads us into the benefits of working with both a designer and a developer on a project. When you have both, they can each focus on the part of the project they’re great at and you can be sure to end up with a website that is beautifully designed and reliably developed.
For example, if you came to me looking for a new homepage I’d be thrilled to help you out, but our first conversation would be about selecting a designer to bring into the project. We’d look at your style and needs, I’d contact a couple of my designer friends, and the best fit for you would be chosen to design your homepage which I’d then take over to develop.
So which option is the best?
There’s really no “best” option. If there’s a designer or developer you really click with, the best thing to do is to ask that person what they think. All of the designers and developers I’ve ever run into are very open and honest about their capabilities and will do whatever it takes to get you the best possible final result.
So if you’ve got a project in mind, reach out to the person you’ve had your eye on and see where the project takes you! If you’re interested in working with me on some, I’d love for you to reach out!