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  1. #1
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    Web Design V Web DEVELOPMENT: Any definitions?

    Hi all,
    Here I am as a budding young web-designer wannabe, and I'm not even sure where web design ends and web-development starts.

    How much database stuff am I going to have to learn? Where from (as Lynda.com doesn't have any phpmyadmin tutorials)? Will I really need to learn not just XHTML & CSS (which I fought for the longest time, hoping DW would do it all for me, but since have "seen the light") but php as well?

    What about the trend towards CMS's..... is there even a market for a "static" website any more?

    What about that database stuff.... is there a place for someone like me that might just want to learn XHTML and CSS really well, and then "hand it on" to someone else for database CMS stuff? How would such a hand-over work? (We're just a working from home husband and wife team... and she's the actual print designer, I'm just a web-designer wannabe).

    Any hints?

    Cheers in advance.

  2. #2
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    There is still a static website market, but mostly for small businesses that can't afford more expensive sites. I doubt there is much money to be made by just building the visual part, because there are so many free templates, themes and ideas available online. If you want to keep up, you will probably have to learn php or another server side language. They really arent that hard to learn, especially with google and sitepoint on your side. CMS's are the present and the future, so you may as well learn to use them. Hope this helps a little bit, even if I am the bearer of bad news(don't shoot the messenger LOL). Correct me if i'm wrong, but I don't think you will get far just doing xhtml and css unless you are working with a team who will do the server side stuff.

    http://www.tizag.com/mysqlTutorial/

    Good Luck

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru hgilbert's Avatar
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    web development = focuses on the back-end (php, asp, aspx, db's, xml)

    web design = focuses on the front-end (html, css, flash, js)


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    Guru in training bronze trophy SoulScratch's Avatar
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    Web design can refer to actual graphic design, markup, presentation and behavior. In other words it's mainly used to describe a front end web developer, whereas the term 'web developer' or 'web development' is a more general term that goes for a more wide array of skills including graphic design, front end, backend ( SQL, Server-side languages and programming ).
    Cross browser css bugs

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    So if a client comes to me asking for "a website".... is there a checklist of things I should be able to do as a "web-designer" as opposed to a web-developer? And what are the warning signs that I'm veering off-target into alien territory?

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    So how many of you "drifted" into web-design after being qualified as graphic designers first, and you've just "learnt on the job" so to speak? Or does web design today require a full-on 4 year degree?

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    Guru in training bronze trophy SoulScratch's Avatar
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    Most often degrees don't really mean a thing ( it may raise your chances of getting a job, but just because you have one doesn't mean you're more knowledgeable ) - the industry experts don't have any type of web design degree but are mostly self-learners though web developers ( programmers ) have a CS degree - it helps if you're going to be doing more backend-oriented tasks but things taught in most web design classes are pretty much outdated as the teacher doesn't keep up with the latest and greatest. There are always exceptions but this is going for most of them.

    I myself started learning front end first and got into backend a little later on, I'm a full time web *dev* with no degree nor have attended college, so I guess that's an example that if you're knowledgeable you don't really need a degree but for the most part it will help in getting a job.
    Cross browser css bugs

    Dan Schulz you will be missed

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    SitePoint Guru hgilbert's Avatar
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    I am such a strange exception.

    I started as a computer programmer - then database developer - then into web development - then web-designer! - and finally graphic designer/ illustrator drawing logos, business cards and drawing anatomical body parts for medicine.

    But my main skills is SEO.

    To be frank I am not good at graphic design really, but my clients at the time were desperate!


  9. #9
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    The difference between design and development is quite a blurred one these days, many designers require learning some backend skills to make their designs possible (especially with the rise in using stuff such as AJAX) and many backend developers tend to bring design into perspective to improve usability. These days it’s always good to have both a basic understanding of both design and development but to specialise in a particular aspect of whatever you find you enjoy and are most skilled in. As for education, degrees are honestly overestimated these days. While web development can favour a computer science degree as the core aspects remain fairly intact, web design itself is such a rapidly developing area, it is physically impossible for educational groups to keep up to date. The problem with that comes when people graduate and they find that a large majority of people have either the same qualification as them, but have outdated skills, or they are self educated and have a much wider portfolio.

    Essentially self-taught would be the route I would recommend for several reasons... businesses widely accept qualifications as proof of the groundwork, however self-taught individuals usually get a more up-to-date feel for the industry, not to mention that it is recognised that the passion self-taught individuals have often make them ideal candidates as they have already proven they have the initiative to keep their skills modernised. And the time you would spend in university just getting the groundwork, you could have generated a wide portfolio of your skills as you learn (which looks better for you). This is because then a design company can see your portfolio and get a feel for you as an individual and have a genuine “marker” for your skill level.

    Be aware that you need both design and development skills (unless you wish to specialise in a certain field) and remember that it is a highly competitive market as there are a LOT of freelancers out there. Be sure to offer a good portfolio, be willing to learn as you go and make sure you have passion for what you do and you should be fine.


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    Cheers. My wife is a very professional "blue chip" graphic designer, and we work from home. She would always consult on the design side of things (she's into print, but now people are paying her good money to design photoshop home pages!) Then other people do ALL the implementation as well... it's made me realise how much money must be in web design, with the prices she's charging just for developing the look, let alone coding in the back-end!

    So after about 3 months of Lynda.com and a bit of playing around in Dreamweaver I'm almost functional in XHTLM and CSS. I guess php, Javascript, CMS's and all the others can be learned.... I guess I just climbed the foothills and then got a shock when I saw the REAL size of the mountains behind!

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast Jessemn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hgilbert View Post
    web development = focuses on the back-end (php, asp, aspx, db's, xml)

    web design = focuses on the front-end (html, css, flash, js)
    I think hgilbert summed it up pretty well for you right there.

    Learning PHP and database stuff would be a great help. It would stick out in your portfolio, and I believe, would really help you to become a better designer as a whole. But it shouldn't be required. There are quite a few non-coding design jobs out there.
    soLinkable - Trying to put the social back into social news.

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Personally I think XHTML and CSS are the crossover (and arguably JS) - a designer can do the graphic design, site layout, user interface, XHTML, CSS and JS coding, the developer does the back end, database design, PHP/ASP.NET/whatever, and also XHTML, CSS and JS. I don't think the roles are completely separate (although of course they can be in reality - it could be that only one of those 2 jobs does the XHTML/CSS coding, and the other sticks to the rest of their area).

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    Quote Originally Posted by hgilbert View Post
    web development = focuses on the back-end (php, asp, aspx, db's, xml)

    web design = focuses on the front-end (html, css, flash, js)
    Some say that designers don't need to know any html, css, flash of js...

    Everywhere I worked, the designers would just fire up photoshop and pass us a "screen shot" of the page. Then the web developers would cut that up, make it into html and add all the php/db etc functionality to it.

    Also, for some twisted reason or another, they seam to always be payed more than us developers... and take 1 week to make a logo the boss would like.

  14. #14
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vali View Post
    Also, for some twisted reason or another, they seam to always be payed more than us developers... and take 1 week to make a logo the boss would like.
    LOL you notice it too?

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    Now now, as I said above, my wife is just getting into that market...

  16. #16
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I think of development involving more programming than design. Design does usually require some light programming skills these days, and development usually involves some design. But in usage I think one is more about design and the other about programming.

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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vali View Post
    Some say that designers don't need to know any html, css, flash of js...

    Everywhere I worked, the designers would just fire up photoshop and pass us a "screen shot" of the page. Then the web developers would cut that up, make it into html and add all the php/db etc functionality to it.

    Also, for some twisted reason or another, they seam to always be payed more than us developers... and take 1 week to make a logo the boss would like.
    That's been my experience as well. I'm a developer and none of the designers I work with know anything about code front of back, be it JS, xhtml or actionscript. I help with the architecture and must have features then the designers have free reign over the design and layout. In the end, I get PSD files and do the front end and back end.

    When I started my job was front end, back end, db design, hosting, etc.... Now many places have front end developers (html/css/client side scripting) and back end developers (database & back end logic).

    I know some really talented print designers who have made the transition to web but it takes a while before they will be really comfortable in the web medium. Control over typography will drive them nuts
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
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    SitePoint Guru glenngould's Avatar
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    (We're just a working from home husband and wife team... and she's the actual print designer, I'm just a web-designer wannabe).
    If this is the case, I advice you to focus on (X)HTML/CSS. A little PHP with MySQL would help you to make complete (not so complex) websites for the start and you also have better understanding in any CMS or other 3rd party code you would integrate.
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    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipse now View Post
    What about the trend towards CMS's..... is there even a market for a "static" website any more?
    There is a definite trend toward a CMS managed static site.

    Remember, just because a site is powered by a CMS, that doesn't mean it can't have static content.

  20. #20
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    Okay so what is the person who does the initial overall design of the site called? You know defining the scope, purpose, target audience, budget, update requirements (hourly to annual), etc. Will old data be discarded or archived? Finding what content exists (as brochures, etc.) and how it can best be rewritten and reorganized to suit the purpose of the site, where additional content is coming from, etc. Basic navigation organization.

    The graphic designers don't necessarily do this. I think many of them would prefer that all of that is worked out before it got to them so they could concentrate on the visual presentation.

  21. #21
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    Lynda.com seems to call this "web redesign", although wouldn't some of it be in the business and market planning of the client?
    Today's web landscape is quickly changing, and web companies, in-house teams, designers, and developers are racing to keep up. Web ReDesign: Strategies for Success teaches the techniques and tools to help move teams in the right direction, whether they need to do a complete redesign or just need to supplement an ongoing strategy. Instructor Kelly Goto develops strategy based on an iterative approach, focusing on branding and audience, usability testing, and content development. The training teaches how to plan effectively, reach target audiences, and take current web design and development knowledge to the next level. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
    http://www.lynda.com/home/DisplayCourse.aspx?lpk2=316

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    I think Web Designers should get at least as far as coding the markup and CSS to create their designs. Just creating a mockup in Photoshop or Fireworks before handing it off is a bit soft. If web is your medium, and you are a designer ,then HTML and CSS are the tools you should be proficient with to go with your design knowledge.

    I think it's fair enough for front end developers to write the Javascript and create interactivity, that is more development than design.
    mikehealy.com.au
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karin Sue View Post
    Okay so what is the person who does the initial overall design of the site called? You know defining the scope, purpose, target audience, budget, update requirements (hourly to annual), etc. Will old data be discarded or archived? Finding what content exists (as brochures, etc.) and how it can best be rewritten and reorganized to suit the purpose of the site, where additional content is coming from, etc. Basic navigation organization.
    That's called a "project manager", basically that is the person that brings everyone together.

    Your list right there should be performed by 5-6 people (if you want them all done right... and for a good website, not one you can code in an afternoon, and can't pay for your rent/mortgage.)

    "initial overall design of the site" = layout designer / designers / web designers
    "defining the scope" = business analyst / boss
    "purpose" = business analyst / boss
    "target audience" = marketing analysts
    "budget" = boss
    "update requirements" = manager (keeps track of what's done)

    But in the real world, with the sites most of us do/work on... it's mainly one person or two persons.

    If you want to develop sites, you need to be a "Jack of all trades maser of none.", since there are some 20+ things you need to keep in mind at all times: HTML, CSS, JS, XML, FLASH, AS, PHP/server language, SQL/some database, DB architecture, System design (most don't care for this and tend to work in circles), Linux/Win, Apache/Whatever server, Server Management, network protocols (http, ftp, sockets, whatever), SEO techniques, some HMI (most people just copy other sites here), Photoshop/Whatever image editor, basic design principles, typography (what fonts to use), math (if your site gets big), English (if you plan to write text on your site...), patience... etc.

    But since everyone needs to start somewhere, the fastest way to make $ on it would be this:
    - start with design (photoshop), you can make a decent salary making porn banners...
    - move on to website design (again, photoshop only)
    - then html/css (you will learn some of this from the people integrating your site designs)
    - then some JS (mainly copy paste and modify existing scripts)
    - then your "contact us" page (welcome to php)
    - then ...
    Before you know it, a few years passed by, and your CV will look like a 3 page big block of upper case abbreviations of all the things you work with...

  24. #24
    Guru in training bronze trophy SoulScratch's Avatar
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    you can make a decent salary making porn banners...
    Hah.
    Cross browser css bugs

    Dan Schulz you will be missed

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranial-bore View Post
    I think Web Designers should get at least as far as coding the markup and CSS to create their designs. Just creating a mockup in Photoshop or Fireworks before handing it off is a bit soft. If web is your medium, and you are a designer ,then HTML and CSS are the tools you should be proficient with to go with your design knowledge.
    Very few designers know much about HTML/CSS and very few experts in HTML/CSS know much about design. In fact I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone be good at both (I'm sure such people do exist, I've just never noticed it before).


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