Web Designer vs. Web Developer

[Opinion, with a little fact thrown in]

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38 Replies - 51899 Views - Last Post: 05 September 2009 - 02:52 AM

#16 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 05 August 2009 - 09:42 PM

Wow, I go leave this topic alone for a day and come back to have 12 new posts :) Nice discussion everyone, and I must say I am happy to see it hasn't desentigrated into flame wars :D

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Here's a question, based on the definitions what are we limiting a web designer to? Would a web designer only be limited to the graphic images, colors, style of a site? Or would that include the actual layout of a site?

In my mind, a web designer takes a site from concept to visual, to the template form (HTML/CSS). Now, that has many different forms, especially based on the designer. Some attempt to keep standards alive, some use tables and deprecated tags, some have no clue what HTML is an just use a design view of a program (these are the people that annoy me most).

For example, the current site I am doing some freelance work for (Healthy Learning Paths - NOTE: this site will be transfering over to my new one sometime in the next week or so, after which point it won't help make my point) was originally designed by a fairly artistic person, with (from what I can tell) no knowledge of HTML. After all, the site was made in 2008 and it is using all tables, and almost no CSS. There are a ton of images and they are all images, not backgrounds. When I got this job I had to go through and redo all the previous work done to bring things up to standards and then remove the majority of the tables (except for where it made sense to have a table).

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The reason for this question is because according to Beta's definitions, which I don't disagree with, a web developer uses HTML to "develop" a site, while a web designer makes the layouts.

Hm, I can see how that is a little confusing. I think the point I was trying to make is that the developer is in charge of the code while a designer lets the code do its own thing (lets programs like dreamweaver add all the non-essential crap to the file), or the designer doesn't worry about how a site will look in different browsers, they make it for whatever browser they have handy and assume it will work in all the others. A developer tends to go through the hassle of doing all the checks and making sure they have a working product before they turn it loose on the world.

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That's my view on things - does anyone think differently?

I categorize the roles a little differently than you do (as you can see from my post), but in general I believe you have all the pieces required there.

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Like others, the artistic part comes a little harder to me

Don't worry here, I am the same way (I have actually spent the last few years working on graphic design (during which time I joined numerous artsy websites in an attempt to get help and guidance) and attempting to make nice looking artwork - mainly for website skins), and even with the amount of experience I have gained over the last few years most of the time I finish a layout (skin) and don't like it enough to even code it. On my most recent skin design period (for those of you who are lost click here and scroll towards the bottom of the page) I have spent easily 30 hours working on it and have just got to the HTML/CSS portion of my "design" process. Luckily the easy part is right at the other end of this (PHP/Databases YAY!).

Great debate so far everyone!
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#17 gregwhitworth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 05 August 2009 - 09:46 PM

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Hm, I can see how that is a little confusing. I think the point I was trying to make is that the developer is in charge of the code while a designer lets the code do its own thing


WHAT! I freakin' misunderstood you than man! When I said that I had been developing sites for years, I meant using the code. Same page, different planets! Dangit.

--

Greg
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#18 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 05 August 2009 - 09:51 PM

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Same page, different planets! Dangit.

Lol, nice saying! Don't worry about it, given the number of times that we are in actual dissagreement on the forums I figured it was just a fluke. :D
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#19 CamoDeveloper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:03 AM

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In my mind, a web designer takes a site from concept to visual, to the template form (HTML/CSS). Now, that has many different forms, especially based on the designer. Some attempt to keep standards alive, some use tables and deprecated tags, some have no clue what HTML is an just use a design view of a program (these are the people that annoy me most).

I was thinking how my company does our websites, we have a design team and a development team. I am on the development team, and whenever our design team is done with all the revisions for a new site, they create a mock-up HTML page. I take that page and make it into an actual layout for the site, by implementing navigation, images, etc. I then add the code for the pages themselves. If a page needs to be dynamic from a database then I wire all of that up or if items need to hide/show depending on a certain condition I get that working too.

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For example, the current site I am doing some freelance work for (Healthy Learning Paths - NOTE: this site will be transfering over to my new one sometime in the next week or so, after which point it won't help make my point) was originally designed by a fairly artistic person, with (from what I can tell) no knowledge of HTML. After all, the site was made in 2008 and it is using all tables, and almost no CSS. There are a ton of images and they are all images, not backgrounds. When I got this job I had to go through and redo all the previous work done to bring things up to standards and then remove the majority of the tables (except for where it made sense to have a table).

Hmm...tables are my companies structure. All of our sites are formatted on tables that is styled by CSS. Here is one of our sites and if you were to view the source you would see all of the tables. I have noticed since working with my company that a lot of people can't stand tables, I do not know why, but that is for another discussion :D

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Hm, I can see how that is a little confusing. I think the point I was trying to make is that the developer is in charge of the code while a designer lets the code do its own thing (lets programs like dreamweaver add all the non-essential crap to the file), or the designer doesn't worry about how a site will look in different browsers, they make it for whatever browser they have handy and assume it will work in all the others. A developer tends to go through the hassle of doing all the checks and making sure they have a working product before they turn it loose on the world.

That makes sense, kind of a higher level perspective.

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Great debate so far everyone!


^ Agreed! I have never thought of these differences for in my mind it was easy to tell that a designer is not a developer, but I can see how these lines might cross.

~Camo
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#20 noorahmad  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 02:22 AM

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#21 shafishstix  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 06:28 AM

Don't forget the picture of a brain when a coding project begins goes really bad.... (Java/C++ is just a hobby for me, yep i one of those arty farty designer dudes for the most part).

@post 9 In a way your right some people who consider themselves in the design "camp" are only interested in creating stylish interfaces, but not all!

For instance when i was studying they impressed upon us the importance of visual semantics balanced against aesthetics. We used mathematical theory. Another important aspect is marketing psychology, its about getting visuals to make enough impact to "stand out from the crowd".

I could go on but that would be boring, i kind of consider web designers to be much like marketer's whereas web developers are much like an engineer who develops/maintains underlying IT systems (being very general there).

@ post 13 i totally agree with everything comrade says, not only because i do, but because there isn't many designers posting who i can band up with, lol.
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#22 Arenlor  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 09:07 AM

My feelings about Flash, Java, Javascript, and Dreamweaver (or any WYSIWYG) is the same feelings expressed about BASIC:
“It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.”
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#23 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 10:35 AM

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I have noticed since working with my company that a lot of people can't stand tables, I do not know why, but that is for another discussion

It is a fairly old topic, but had an okay discussion about why people hate tables being used in web sites:
http://www.dreaminco...wtopic58767.htm

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My feelings about Flash, Java, Javascript, and Dreamweaver (or any WYSIWYG) is the same feelings expressed about BASIC:
“It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.”

I don't know, I started with Javascript and have turned out okay with pogramming practices...
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#24 TechWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 11:55 AM

I agree Beta, if it wasn't for an ADAM computer(by ColecoVision) and smartBASIC, I never would have found programming to begin with.
I really don't think it's the language you learn to get you started that makes you bad or sloppy, I think it's your mentality about what you're doing.
If you just want a check and your boss just wants a program NOW, then you're likely to be a hack.
If you love this sh*t! and writing code is as much an art to you as designing a page is art to a designer, you're gonna make it beautiful because you're
proud of what you did.
that's my theory anyway. :blink:
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#25 gregwhitworth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:08 PM

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because you're
proud of what you did.

I think service from people in general would be better if people took this seriously.
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#26 Arenlor  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 02:03 PM

View PostBetaWar, on 6 Aug, 2009 - 11:35 AM, said:

I don't know, I started with Javascript and have turned out okay with pogramming practices...

It's just that I've seen Javascript get used in situations where CSS or server-side languages would be better (for example, in authentication). Javascript also makes the awful assumption of your user being able to see and that the user will have it turned on. It's useful sparingly (drop and go menu), but when people (Seagate) start using it for navigation it can break a lot of assumed functionality (I fill out a form, press enter, and nothing. I have to click on the picture to continue), and as stated above, for people using a screen reader it can really break the site. People with mobile devices may also have trouble with it. Using it for any sort of verification is like putting a sign on your door that says "Don't break in". Yet I still see all that, constantly. I'm sure you'd cringe at a site built using frames and tables today, and I hope you'd cringe at a site that relies on Javascript. I know I sit here and wonder what is wrong with a certain hawk to be relying on it. To answer the obvious, yes Google Chrome frightens me.
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#27 c0mrade  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 02:49 PM

View PostArenlor, on 6 Aug, 2009 - 01:03 PM, said:

View PostBetaWar, on 6 Aug, 2009 - 11:35 AM, said:

I don't know, I started with Javascript and have turned out okay with pogramming practices...

It's just that I've seen Javascript get used in situations where CSS or server-side languages would be better (for example, in authentication). Javascript also makes the awful assumption of your user being able to see and that the user will have it turned on. It's useful sparingly (drop and go menu), but when people (Seagate) start using it for navigation it can break a lot of assumed functionality (I fill out a form, press enter, and nothing. I have to click on the picture to continue), and as stated above, for people using a screen reader it can really break the site. People with mobile devices may also have trouble with it. Using it for any sort of verification is like putting a sign on your door that says "Don't break in". Yet I still see all that, constantly. I'm sure you'd cringe at a site built using frames and tables today, and I hope you'd cringe at a site that relies on Javascript. I know I sit here and wonder what is wrong with a certain hawk to be relying on it. To answer the obvious, yes Google Chrome frightens me.

None of this has anything to do with Javascript as a language - it's just inherent to client side scripting, which can be done using flash, java, silverlight, whatever.

Javascript the language is actually very misunderstood. Properly written javascript code is actually really elegant, and it's prototypical nature (ever notice it has objects, but not classes?) makes it unique amongst widespread programming languages. If anyone has some spare time, I really recommending diving into real javascript programming, it's fascinating.
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#28 shafishstix  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 08:04 PM

Actually i should mention during my study course period we did learn a bit of coding e.g. (php, javascript, html, css, lingo) but due to the sheer time constraints of the course (and perhaps the limits of the human mind) we centered most focus on graphic design/web design (and working alongside web developers, information designers, etc).

In fact we were of the attitude if you don't know some coding then you were considered a bit of a hack. Personally I've gone further by giving java some of my time (but that just me).

But i should also say that the course the lectures had constructed for us was based on the "very best" of practices in my chosen area of specialty, of course that doesn't mean others will be taught the same.
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#29 CamoDeveloper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 10:08 PM

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I really don't think it's the language you learn to get you started that makes you bad or sloppy, I think it's your mentality about what you're doing.
If you just want a check and your boss just wants a program NOW, then you're likely to be a hack.
If you love this sh*t! and writing code is as much an art to you as designing a page is art to a designer, you're gonna make it beautiful because you're
proud of what you did.
that's my theory anyway. :blink:

I agree, I started off programming because of a stupid game. The code was simple and was very easy to learn, but one thing I learned the most was structuring the code.

Try picturing it this way. Structuring code isn't just for you, but for anyone who comes behind you to edit/modify/look at the code. It makes it easier to read and understand, especially if you haven't worked on a project for some time. I'm fairly OCD when it comes to code, but that's just me :P If my code just looks ugly, I re-write it till it looks good.

~Camo
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#30 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Web Designer vs. Web Developer

Posted 06 August 2009 - 10:15 PM

I just want to say Thank You to Betawar for this thread. He hit the nail right on the head with the points. My frustration comes from employers who are out there saying they want a web developer and when you go for the interview you realize they wanted a web designer. You tell them that they should be asking for a web designer and not a developer and either they get upset or they say "What is the difference?"

The funny thing about this is that they often want this "web developer" at the lower "Web designer" pay scale. Or they will ask for the web designer when they perfectly know well that the job is a web developer position just so they can pay the lower scale. They think they are being sly, but every applicant they bring in knows what they are doing and it really undermines the company. How can I get excited for a company who either knows the difference and wants to stiff me on the pay or not know the difference to begin with?

A lot of companies out there really need to be educated in the ways of IT staff and positions. Because more often than not they have no clue what they need to ask for in their applicants.

But again, thanks Betawar for throwing out those points. A lot of people would agree with you. :)
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