Web Design Basics Design Principles Why Web Developers HAVE to Be Web Designers, Too

Why Web Developers HAVE to Be Web Designers, Too

There's always been a dispute about what a web designer should or shouldn't be. One of the best examples of this is found in the debate about whether or not web designers should really learn even the basics of HTML, as in knowing how to code.

However, another pointed debate has been centered around the web developer issue. Some professionals believe that it's alright to only be a web developer instead of being both. For starters, let's sort out what each professional's job is.

A web developer is someone who knows how to program and is involved in developing world wide web apps. On the other hand, a web designer has to be intimately familiar with web graphic design, coding (some would dispute this, though), the user experience, interface design and SEO.

In other words, it's necessary to be well-rounded these days. Here's why.

The User Experience Takes Center Stage

User Experience

Any website is always going to be about the user experience, since the user dictates whether or not a website is going to be a success or not. This makes it all the more important that the professional in charge of the website understands more than just fundamental coding.

Even if the website scores in areas like interactivity and usability, the user's still going to be dissatisfied if the design is pitiful. In fact, your site visitors will get turned off, leave and never come back if the design is ugly, outdated and dysfunctional. That's why a developer has to learn the finer points of design, too.

You Can Make More Money


It's hard to argue with this reason, especially if you value your career and want to get bigger and better in it. If you have the skills of a web designer in addition to knowing how to develop a site, then you're automatically going to be double as marketable. This translates to you potentially being able to earn double, too.

Clients these days really appreciate a well-rounded professional who doesn't just program the site and see to its interactivity, but is also capable of using design to increase conversions, improve the user experience and reduce friction (especially in B2B and ecommerce sites).

All this translates to a better-equipped web professional who is able to command greater rates.

Elevate Your Aesthetic Taste in Design

Aesthetic Taste

It also goes without saying that learning web design makes a web developer better able to tell a really attractive website apart from a really horrific one. This has a myriad of benefits, to be sure. A developer will begin to develop his own eye for aesthetics, which is basically his visual skills becoming increasingly refined to the point where he's able to intuitively know what makes good design.

The more a developer builds up the talent to spot elements and factors that are unique to both good and bad websites, the more he's able to see how that can complement his web development work. At the end of the day, this simply means that he can become a more efficient developer as well.

Becoming More Well-Rounded Equals Superior Output

Superior Output

A web developer who learns at least the basics of design will produce better work as a developer. This is obvious when you think about how web development and web design are constantly interrelated.

Look at it this way. Let's say you're a developer who doesn't care much for design. Sure, you'll be able to take care of the website's interactivity and programming, yet you don't really comprehend the purpose behind your programming, at least from the user's perspective. This results in an inferior output.

Now on the other hand, let's say that you have Mr. Superman Web Developer/Designer, who understands both aspects of a website. Clearly, this means that his performance will be far superior to the developer who only understands rote aspects like Ajax, jQuery and submitting forms to the database.

Time to Rethink the Web Development Approach

Superior Output

Today's users and clients are expecting way more from web developers. That's why it's time for web developers to evolve, and in a hurry, from what they've usually been up to this point: a bunch of code generators who go about their job in a rote fashion and without much creativity and an appreciation for the function and form of design.

Sure, a web developer will usually be a problem solver. That speaks to his skill and training in analyzing issues and then addressing them. However, that naturally fails to speak to his creative side, which is extremely important in building a website!

These days, you can no longer cut it if you just provide the service of making a website function effectively. You also have to know a lot about web design to make the website responsive to the user.

Can't Have One Without the Other

One Without the Other

If you're a web developer who's reading this, you should take away the big, overarching point from all of this: You have to learn and incorporate web design into your professional skill set. That's the only way that you'll stay relevant and continue to flourish in your profession. After all, more and more website-related jobs are becoming interrelated in today's tech world.

In addition, you'll also be limited in terms of what jobs and clients you can snag if you only know how to do web development. By adding fundamental - not even super-refined - web-design skills to your services, you'll be much more in demand in the marketplace.

Any web developers out there who see what we see? What's your take on incorporating some design into your development background? Sound off in the comments below.

And here's something for you to read further on the topic:


Marc Schenker

Marc Schenker is a freelance writer, blogger and editor who's written on web design, conversion, photography and entertainment. You can find out more about him on

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