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Web Designers vs. Web Developers: Who They Are & How They Innovate
Woman and man at work with laptop in front of them

There are as many different kinds of web designers and web developers as there are shoe stores and contracting companies.
To make things more confusing, there are specialties within both fields. Some designers specialize in using Adobe products; other designers start with raw HTML and CSS code. Some developers specialize in one or two programming languages. Some developers specialize in the front end, or client side, while others specialize in the back end CMS. Regardless of specialties, all design and development teams use whatever tools are necessary to complete the project.


Clash of personalities
If you guessed that web professionals differ in their personalities, and thus their approaches to business, you couldn’t be more right! Even though they share many of the same skills, designers and developers tend to have very different personalities.
Designers become designers because they fall in love with print, with the arts, with creating beautiful things for other people to appreciate. Developers become developers because they enjoy diving deep into every aspect of how a thing works, in this case the web, so they can bend the things they learn to serve their customers’ needs. At the risk of being way too broad, designers are more concerned with how a thing looks; developers are more concerned with how a thing works. On the Internet, both of these things are important, and, depending on your business goals, it may be unwise to value one more than the other.


Markup vs. code
Many web designers work hand-in-hand with a partner developer. Some even marry one another! It’s fair to expect a designer to be proficient with markup languages like HTML and CSS; however, it often takes a bona fide developer familiar with a variety of programming languages to really make a business website speak directly to its customers’ needs.
To be effective, the web designer must know enough about the developer’s skill set to avoid designing page elements that are impossible to create or that may push the project over budget. Where the designer’s knowledge and skills end, the developer picks up and runs the project through the goal posts. The opposite is also true: developers need designers, too. Someone has to get the project started, and that person is usually a designer working with mock-ups, wireframes, and markup languages to model an engaging and usable experience for the website’s visitors. Developers turn the designers’ model into a functional website.


Designers who dev, devs who design
The two skills, design and development, are converging in important ways. There is so much crossover in the field, it’s almost impossible to function in the web industry as either a design-dumb developer or a development-dumb designer. More and more designers, especially those who choose to specialize in creating user interfaces and experiences (UI/X), are learning to code in design school.
We’re seeing more and more developers who are starting to care about design, who are looking at art in new ways and applying what they learn to their development work. There are even a few fine artists out there working purely in code. Check out a fellow named Rafaël Rozendaal if you’re interested in learning more about that.


Design and development teams drive innovation
Let’s not name any names, but you can tell if an industry is fully developed by looking at the products it sells and the services it offers. If everyone’s products and services look the same, and they haven’t changed much in recent memory, then you’re looking at one of two things: an industry that has reached its peak and has started to plateau or an industry that’s stalled and waiting for someone to come along and innovate. A website that makes it easy for your customers to do business with you makes your business stand out, uniquely and memorably, within your industry.
Having a great website for your business is but one path to innovation, a path you can start down today with Gilmedia by your side.

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