Learn to Code - Web Design vs Web Development

When starting out learning to code, choosing a path of web design or web development can be overwhelming. In this final installment of our Learn to Code series, we will explore how to decide if web design or development is right for you.

Web Designers vs Web Developers

Web designers create the look and feel of a site. They select color schemes, layouts, photography and other aesthetic aspects of a website or web app. Web developers bring these designs to life with code. They write the programs that make the site function as designed. However, the lines between designer and developer are becoming more blurred each year. Those in the traditional designer role are branching into programming in HTML, CSS and sometimes even Javascript, for mock ups and production code. The hybrid designer/developer is becoming popular and sought after. But, it is still common among some teams to distinctly separate these roles.

Start with the Basics

Whether you ultimately choose design or development, you should have a strong understanding of HTML and CSS basics. This will give you necessary insight into how web pages are structured and presented in browsers. This is fundamental to success in both web disciplines. In addition to HTML and CSS, you should invest time learning fundamental color theory, typography and accessibility. Both designers and developers should not only know the difference between a serif and sans-serif typeface, but also how to correctly use them in a font stack. After learning these concepts, the right direction to choose will likely begin to emerge.

Go to the Next Level

If design interests you, learn more about design software and its uses. Adobe Creative Cloud products such as Photoshop and Illustrator are the most popular and commonly used in industry. Strapped for cash? Try GIMP and Inkscape or similar alternatives to get started in the meantime. Also invest time learning basic User Experience concepts and principles to compliment your design and artistic skills.

If development interests you, learn a CSS preprocessor such as Sass or LESS to increase efficiency and maintainability in your stylesheets. Also, dive into Javascript. Learn the fundamentals and try adding basic behavior to a static HTML and CSS website.

Both design and development can offer challenging and rewarding careers for years to come. You may find yourself naturally gravitating towards one or discover that you want to be well versed in both. Learn the fundamentals of both disciplines and choose your path confidently.