Jan 17, 2019

What Is Web Design?

Web design is a bit of a catchall term referring to the many processes involved in building a website. From initial design ideas to final usability testing, there are typically several people involved in the chain of development for a website. Some professionals can do all aspects of website design and building themselves, but it's more common for professionals to specialize in a specific area. This web design info should help clarify where you might want to fall in that process.

Design vs. Code

To begin with, there's an important distinction to be made between graphic or visual design and website design. While there are usually elements of graphic design in the process of building a website, the finished product should look good. After all, the full web development and design process involves a lot more coding and tech skills than a graphic design project like logo development or photo editing.

That's not to say that design and code are completely separate. CSS, one of the more important website design languages, was created in order to give web developers more power to control the way their websites looked. But looks aren't everything in the process of building a website.

Front End vs. Back End

When you interact with a website, you're using what's known as the front end, which is the public-facing user interface of the website. That front end is developed with code, usually a combination of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. That's all supported and, in many cases, enhanced by programming that goes mostly unseen by the public-facing side. That support side is known as the back end, which deals with databases, security, and other behind-the-scenes elements of website functionality. Back end developers work with coding languages like Ruby and PHP. In some cases, web developers deal with both front and back end concerns, in which case they're usually known as full stack developers.

Are Web Developers Designers?

Some people may think of web development and design as separate elements. Depending on the work you're doing, it may well be. For example, if you get a job as a front end developer for a large company, you may work from design comps created by professional graphic designers. In this case, it would be your responsibility to translate the finished design layout, or comp, from a static graphic into a useable website. You wouldn't be responsible for choosing colors and fonts.

However, most front end developers know enough about design to create an attractive website from scratch without needing someone else to come up with the design layout. Full stack developers may not be as concerned with design from a graphics point of view, but there can be a ""design"" element to their work, especially if they end up doing a substantial amount of front end work. While it can be argued that web developers are designers, they typically work in a text editor writing code more than they do in a graphic design program. That's especially true for full stack developers. Front end developers can be somewhere in between. If you want to work primarily with aesthetics and visual design but are interested in learning how to code, front end developer classes with some digital marketing emphasis may get you where you want to go.