Quite a number of times web designing is used interchangeably with web development but are the two synonymous?

In this article, I take a look at what web designing entails in a bid to enlighten especially those people who would like to pursue a career in web development.

Web development usually involves three stages. These are web designing, front end development and back end development. Each stage is normally done by a person who specializes in that field although there are some web developers with more than one skill in web development.

A person with skills in web design, front end as well as back end development is known as a full-stack web developer. There is a saying that, “A jack of all trades is a master of none”. If you are of the same notion, then you should be content with specializing in a certain field of web development, like web designing.

A web designer plays a crucial role in the creation of webpages. Note that I did not say “creation of websites” but “creation of webpages”. A webpage is that document you access when you visit a website. The two words are sometimes used interchangeably but that is a story for another day.

The web designer creates a layout of all the elements you see on a web page. The elements can include text, images and videos.

Among the images that can be found on a webpage are a logo and a favicon. The logo and favicon are part of a brand and sometimes the web designer is tasked to design the brand or to ensure that the existing images are in a format and size which provide the best user experience(UX).

The logo typically appears on the navigation panel of a webpage while the favourite icon (favicon) is the icon which is visible in the browsing history and it may also appear on the home screen on mobile devices.

The font and colours on a webpage are chosen by a web designer and they usually resonate with the brand. The web designer comes up with the colour scheme codes since colours are rarely referred with their names in web development. The web designer also makes sure that the correct fonts are used. What skills should a web designer have?

A web designer should be creative and normally has to learn graphic design or to master tools used in the creation of web designs. The most important tool is used to create wireframes. A wireframe is a layout or illustration of what a web page should look like.

It shows the positioning, shape and colour of buttons as well as the size and position of images and other resources. The web designer does not necessarily need to have skills in HTML or CSS although that would be an added advantage.

Why programming skills are not important in web designing is because the tools used in creating wireframes can export the webpage layout with the complete HTML and CSS done automatically.

Once a web designer is done exporting the wireframe. The file can be uploaded to a web server and might become a fully functional webpage on a website. However, more functionality might need to be added to the webpage and that is the role of a front end developer to ensure that buttons work as intended when clicked or to make the webpages dynamic.

If there are forms on the webpage or if a database needs to be connected to the webpage, then a back end developer has to chip in to finish the development process.

The next time you view a slick webpage remembers that it all started with a web design which was then brought into life using various web technologies.

It is my hope that I have clearly distinguished between web design and web development and strongly believe that aspiring web developers can now make an informed decision as to which path to follow in their web development career.

Stewart Mukonzi | Freelance Photojournalist and Full Stack Web Developer

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