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)...
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.