The Yin & Yang of Making a Website


female with ui thought bubble vs. male with code thought bubble making a website

Inside the agency world, you’ll find two types of people: web designers and web developers. Outside, though, those terms are used almost interchangeably. And while no one likes a stickler for semantics, there’s real nuance between those two roles. Together, they bring stunning, one-of-a-kind websites to life.

The Basics

On paper, you can think of it like this: a web designer plans for the visual design and user experience of a website; a web developer brings those designs to life and programs the website to full functionality. They’re two sides of the same coin, but they each bring skills and philosophies that make the finished product something special. 

Tools of the Trades

Web designers are typically the first to get their hands on the project. They’ll begin by reviewing the clients’ goals and determining how to best organize and present all the information the website needs to house. From there, they’ll plan a user experience that supports those goals and a design that elevates the brand identity. 

To do all that, they rely on design skills and sensibilities like: 

  • Creativity. The web is a canvas unlike any other, and web designers always strive to deliver an experience that’s both innovative and engaging. 
  • Balance. A well-done website creates balance and hierarchy to all visual elements, like photo, video and copy. 
  • Emphasis. A website needs visual emphasis in key areas to drive engagement with calls to action like email sign-ups and purchases. 

Web developers, on the other hand, are more practical in their approach. They receive the design files and translate them to the web. Along the way, they take several measures to ensure the website feels smooth and responsive to the user, no matter which device they’re using. 

Web developers lean on skills like: 

  • Simplicity. Web developers want to make the web easy to use. That could mean simplifying a form, reducing a click in a user journey or just making the site load more quickly. 
  • Consistency. Web developers work hard to optimize the backend of a website to ensure it looks and feels the same, every time you use it. 
  • SEO. Now more than ever, web developers are considering SEO at every step of the development process and finding new ways to help websites reach the front page. 

Shared Goals, Different Philosophies

Although web developers and designers have much in common, they hold slightly different philosophies about the internet at large. 

Designers: Make it Wow 

Designers want to push the web forward with fresh, original designs that serve the user experience. Over the last several years, we’ve seen the internet become dominated by templates and standardization. Designers see this and know that those brands are missing out on an incredible opportunity to make a genuine, meaningful connection with their audiences. 

Developers: Make it Work 

Web developers see the internet as a tool, intended to reliably help users accomplish what they’re trying to do. They don’t ignore the website’s design, but rather seek innovative ways to make it functional and enjoyable for the user. Where designers may ask “how does it look and feel,” developers will generally ask “how does it work.” 

Balance is Key 

When people hear “web design” and “web development,” they usually lump them together as one job. But as we’ve seen, building a truly great website requires both designers and developers and all the skills they bring to the table. With each and every project at Paradigm, our team brings a balanced, multi-disciplined approach to build websites that innovate as much as they inspire. Give us a call and we’ll bring that same approach to your next website.