The Web Designer Versus the Web Developer: Who is Right?
by Chris Hooley of MCP Media, Inc.

For some reason, they have the same goals, but can't seem to agree on the right way to achieve them. Your designer swears that you need a super slick interface with all the bells and whistles and lots of vibrant color to draw the user's attention. Your web developer tells you that you need blue underlined text links and a white background at all times because it is more usable. Both want you to have a successful web site, and neither can tolerate the other's point of view. So who has the right idea?

The answer is... (drumrolll please)... Can I buy a vowel and get back to you?

Let's explore the minds of these two individuals first to see what makes them tick. After that we should be able to finally answer the age-old question of who is right; the web designer or the web developer. (and by "age-old" I mean "internet age old" which is younger than I am, but I digress)

The mind of a web designer
Web designers see the web differently than most. Hip to design ideology, current with design trends, able to spot low resolution graphics in a single glance, these individuals are responsible for bringing pizzazz to the web. Who else would be able to see tabular data and decide that HTML tables where the perfect way to place graphics on a screen? They have stretched the boundaries of the web's infrastructure and turned it into a true media instead of a simple text-based research tool.

These graphical wizards (at least the good ones) understand form and color theory. They understand the visual aspects of marketing and what drives people to react to visual stimulation. They know what looks good, and how to visually brand your company. They know what looks bad, and will likely tell you ambitiously when they spot it. They understand how sight drives feeling. To make your site look and feel the way it should, the web designer is right.

The mind of a web developer
Web developers see the web the same as everybody else should. (at least in theory) Although at times they might not be able to tell you precisely why something is visually appealing, they sure can elaborate on why something doesn't work properly. Logically the web is a place to attain information as quickly and efficiently as possible. After all, that's why it was created. Web developers think logic, efficiency, functionality.. and maybe design if it doesn't affect the integrity of the data flow diagrams they created in the planning phase of the systems development life cycle.

Accessible and sensible, efficiently coded and highly compatible; websites that web developers produce work. Plain and simple. No time for flashy visuals because the load time will increase. Why design a graphical button when with half the code and one third of the bandwidth you can have a text link that performs the same task? Think of all the money you can save if your site is programmed as efficiently as possible. Logically, a web developer is right.

The answer is... (drumrolll please)...
It depends.

I know, that's not the answer you wanted to hear, but it was either that or "both". Your designer and your developer are both right, although neither will likely admit it. If you own a design studio, or your are in entertainment, chances are good you will be leaning towards the advice of your designer. After all, creativity is more valued in your industry then say, software development. If you are a software development company, you may be leaning towards your web developer's advice because efficient systems are more important to people in your industry.

But what about the average web site owner? Maybe you have an online store, a real estate agency, a retail business, you are a member of a virtual community or something else that is not as black and white as a design firm or a development team. The fact of the matter is you have to weigh the options against your company's values and goals to make the appropriate decisions if the designer and the developer ever clash. In all cases your site needs to look good, and in all cases your site needs to function properly. The choice shouldn't ever boil down to one or the other.

This is why there are both web designers and web developers. They are the yin and the yang of building websites. If your company doesn't have a little of both involved in creating or maintaining your website, you may have some unbalanced karma with your click throughs and conversions.

Recommended Answers

All 12 Replies

Perfect explanation, it’s very rare to find a designer and or developer that can find a happy medium. I guess it just comes with lots of experience :) .

Personally, I like my sites to have that great look that grabs people but at the same time you have to remember that not every web surfer has a fast computer. I feel that your site needs to have the look and feel to grab people but also the simplisity to be easily navagated and loaded. If you can't find a medium your not going to have a very good site.

Good article. My opinion lies in the "depends" category too. To me as a web designer, it all depends on the context of the site, and the target audience.

I agree with @kernel.
@Arizona Web great article. :cheesy:

As a web developer trying to become a web desiginer, I find your article very accurate.

I love that simple look, white background, blue links! But, I'm trying hard!

Really good article :lol:

i agree with ones of those topics that you can talk about forever and a day and still be no closer to an answer......bit like 'what came first, the chicken or the egg'!

After reading that, I think I'm just a humble designer, though the programmer in me is disagreeing. Though at least now I know why I prefer work alone when building webpages.

I think that the line between developer and designer is growing very thin with the new technology being introduced. Not so much introduced as integrated.

Has anyone else been keeping an eye on the Macromedia/Adobe merger? Gotta watch these wiley corporations, because they're making our lives much easier.

I think you need to understand that it isn't one or the other. It is perfectly possible to have a web designer add the pizzazz to excellent code that your developer provides.

They are as important as each other, and the best of the best are the ones who work together.

As for me, I am both a developer and a designer.

Both are quite different set of professionals armed with different set of skills.
Web Designers -
The Creative bloc:Web designers are the ones who can come up with vivid images in their mind after listening to client’s requirements. They form the creative bloc of a web services company and take care of almost everything that will be visible to the visitor of the website.
Web Developers - The Logical Bloc :
If designer take care of the outside part, then it won’t be wrong to state that web developer takes care of everything that is inside. They are the ones who sit and code till the platform achieves functionality, efficiency, and stability.
For more read my blog <snip>

nice post...i like this one artical..i think web developer is right better than web designer according to me

I found a Slide over Web Designers and Web Developers Hope you like it . Describes A good difference between both professionals . To see click .

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