Websites have existed for about as long as web design and development have existed. Creating a website used to be a much simpler process, so its definition was much simpler.
Comparing the first website, which came out in 1991, with modern websites, you can see how much they have evolved. In today’s world, creating and maintaining a website involves an ecosystem of roles and skills.
It can be difficult to know where you fit into this ecosystem as a designer. The purpose of this article is to provide a clear picture of your role, the role of others, and the skill sets needed to create a website.
What is web design and development?
The process of creating a website is called web design and development. Two major skill sets are involved: web design and web development. A website’s design and functionality are determined by web development.
The two titles are often used interchangeably since there isn’t always a clear distinction between the two roles. Roles on the web are evolving as well.
Almost 30 years after the first website was created, numerous job titles have been created to describe various skill sets needed to create a website, with more being created every year. Titles often overlap, and their meanings differ from company to company. That’s enough to make your head spin.
Let’s separate website creation into two categories: what users see, and what they don’t.
Users see what they see in a browser, which involves front-end development and design. A website’s design defines its colors, layout, fonts, and images — all the elements that contribute to its branding and usability — and requires tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, and Sketch.
There are some designers who code and some front-end developers who design. There are designers who don’t touch a line of code. Some front-end developers only code. Isn’t that helpful?
In the backend, what the user doesn’t see takes place on a server.
For a website to store and organize all the data that comes through its front end, it needs a back end. In other words, when a user buys something or fills out a form, they’re entering information into an application on the website’s front end. The information is stored on a server in a database.
Websites function the way you want them to because the front and back ends are always in communication. Back-end developers are like conductors. Through languages such as Ruby, PHP, .Net, and Python along with frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and Code Igniter, they ensure applications, databases, and servers work together harmoniously.
Elements of Web Design
“Design is a problem-solving activity,” wrote Paul Rand in The Politics of Design. The purpose of dramatization is to clarify, synthesize, and dramatize a word, a picture, a product, or an event.
It is the job of web designers to solve problems for their users all the time. It should be easy for users to navigate websites and do what they want. Users who are frustrated are less likely to return to a website.
Each element of web design is designed to make the website as easy to use as possible: so people will visit and interact with it frequently.
Website layout refers to the arrangement of a website’s header, navigation menu, footer, content, and graphics. The layout of a website depends on the website’s purpose and how a web designer wants the user to interact with it. A photography website would prioritize large, beautiful images, while an editorial site would emphasize text and letter spacing.
A website should have a visual hierarchy so that users can access the information they need quickly. Hierarchy plays a key role here. In visual hierarchy, size, color, spacing, and more are used to determine which aesthetic aspects of a website should stand out.
A basic example of visual hierarchy can be seen in the headings of this article. The authors quickly explain what the article is about to you, the reader.
A navigator helps users get from point A to point B by using tools such as site architecture, menus, and search bars. Users can find information quickly and easily with simple, effective navigation.
A website’s color gives it personality, makes it stand out, and directs the user to take action. Color palettes can be determined by a brand’s existing identity or by the content of a website (like how this plant website uses green hues). Websites benefit from a consistent color palette.