When I am approached by a client, I know they are going to ask  ” Can you build me a website?” or  “Can you design me a website?”.  My usual response is yes to both because: YES I CAN. and because not everyone is aware that there is a difference between the two.

“Let me paint you picture” says the Web designer:

 Web Graphic Design. This relates  to the front-end (client side) design of a website.

A designer will make notes of your ideas, and using their tools and skills, they will paint you a pretty picture. Lay-out, images and so on and so forth.  You have your picture, you’re 100% sure this is what you want and now you need to turn this picture into a fully functional website with all the bells and whistles.

“Let me bring your picture to life” says the Web Developer”

A web developer is a programmer who specializes in the development of World Wide Web applications.

Whether I take your pretty picture from someone else or,  whether I created the pretty picture ( because I do, do both), I now have to take these elements and bring them to life with my platform of choice. I like calling this “the build”. * Enter twilight music here – the scifi version obviously*

Imagine a website as a really cool building:

Imagine yourself wanting to  build a tall building . The building has to carry your corporate image. Look.feel. The works. When people eventually walk into this building, they want to be able to have your products or services readily available to them. They want to know what you do and they want to know how they can get their grubby little hands on your product.

Web Design vs Web Development

You get your architect ( in this case your web designer) on board and the drawing begins. Your designer paints you a pretty picture of what could be. Then you have to add all the details, walls, doors and generally the layout of this building. In your mind is looks totally amazing. You designer is sheerah – creator of all things bjarraful.

Your proofs are complete, and your building contractors are ready to transform your on-paper- dream, into a reality so amazing that it’ll bring tears to your eyes.

You have broken ground and the first walls have started going up. Your frame work has been built and now it’s up the all the 100’s of men ( and  women) who run around on the scaffolding to add the features you want to this building.

Let’s add a door right in the middle of the wall:

A web designer does not draw functionality into a picture. They simply say: “Here is the picture. Make it work.” For a designer, adding a door might mean dropping it in place in the wall, making sure colours match. Easy peazy , lemon squeezy.

A developer has a complete melt down:  If you tell me to add a door, my mind has already run through 5 functions needed for this door to work and to continue functioning properly. A door needs hinges. It needs a handle, to enable the function of opening and closing it. The door handle also has its own functionality so the elements that make up the door handle also , has to work. The elements surrounding the door has to also function properly without causing the door to stick when you try and open it.

In my world of wah wah wonders, adding a door is more than just adding a picture, or a frame, or moving the picture from point A to point B. Something is bound to clash with something else at some point during “the build” and this could mean adding something as simple as a picture, can take HOURS. But only sometimes. 🙂

Just to re-cap:



article by: Melissa Kleynhans: Web Developer