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Website Development?

What is “website development” and how is it different from website design? In plain and technical speech, these terms are often used in different ways, which can lead to confusion. Let’s get our terms straight.

In a large website company, there are often three jobs: designer, developer and themer.

Technically Speaking

The designers are responsible for the graphic design and layout¬†— the ‘look’ of the site. They create pictures (mock-ups) of web pages, often in Photoshop. They design the graphic elements that go into the site (logos, icons, backgrounds, boxes and tabs, and similar.)

The developers are the programmers of the operation. They develop the infrastructure that the site operates on and which provides the functionality of the website.

Finally, the themers take the computer code turned out by the efforts of the developers, and write yet more code which makes the developers’ work display like the designers’ mock-ups. They are the bridge between the purely graphic and the pure code.

In the Vernacular

The terms are often used differently in plain speech. “Website designer” often refers to anyone who is in the business of creating websites, be they graphic designers, computer programmers or anything else; while “website developer” can refer to anyone responsible for formulating and preparing the content of a site, or planning a website project.

To muddy the waters further, many website developers (read: programmers) — due to SEO considerations — sometimes need to refer to themselves as ‘website designers’ since this is what ordinary people search for when they use Google to find such a person.

Many people in the field also do not fit neatly into one job or another, but often do a little of each. They don’t usually care how people refer to them, although they do care if people can find them.

In this website, I use the terms “website designer” to mean anyone in the business of creating websites, and “website development” to mean any of the more technical parts of planning or creating a website. And I use them frequently, so that Google will understand that this website is about both.