“What is the difference between a web designer, a developer, and a unicorn?”

This is a common question from potential clients and people we work with who need Web services.  The answer is not as clear as it used to be a few years back. Prior to 2014, a web designer and web developer were two separate roles in bringing a website to life, but now it is more common that an individual will work on the web design and then develop the site based on their designs–or that web developer will design and develop a site simultaneously. That is not to say the roles do not both exist. Most large companies depend on both a web designer and developer. A smaller business can get away with having an individual who can design and develop. Now that we have an understanding on how roles are starting to adapt, let’s go over the two different roles.

A web designer is an individual that is focused on designing the look and feel of the site. They are responsible for developing and curating content to go on the site and then developing a smooth layout example using software like Photoshop and Illustrator. Some, but not all web designers do know a small amount of HTML and CSS code to work on styling websites with the developer. Usually, that is the extent of a web designer’s coding knowledge.

A web developer is an individual that is focused on functionality and usability. They have to take the content from the web designer and actually make it into a functioning website using code. An average developer will have a grasp of more advanced codes focused on function such as Python and Java. Advanced developers have started using Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress to organize pages of code and provide user friendly dashboard for designers to add new content. A web developer not on brings design to life for websites, but can also build databases and mobile applications.

The folks at Upwork do a very good job of breaking down the responsibilities of each role in their post titled, Web Design vs. Web Developmentand we love their mention of “The Unicorn.” They write, “The “unicorn” can take your project from the conceptual stage of visual mock-ups and storyboards, and carry it through front-end development all by themselves. Not that you’d want them to; the real value of developers who design and designers who develop is their ability to speak each other’s languages.”

Because we are a small enterprise of closely knit professionals with expertise and experience that ranges from seasoned public relations and UX professionals to cutting -edge, (heck, bleeding edge) mavericks, we see the unicorn walkthrough the room at the start of every day.

And because our team is so diverse, we stay abreast of all of the new developments (such as those recently put forth by Noz Urbina for Enterprise Marketer) in UX and design concepts and evaluate which ones to implement, which ones to watch (aka the “wait and see method”) and carefully evaluate what will work best for our clients based not only on their industry, but also their organizational values, goals, and most importantly, capacity.

At Bradan, we feel the best work comes from an enterprise that isn’t afraid to be honest with our clients, ask the tough questions, and ensure they have a plan that extends beyond the launch of the Website.  

Because we are a Kansas City/Missouri based business we have the luxury of meeting with our clients face-to-face and that matters to us.  I mean come on, they want to see the unicorn too, right?

At Bradan, we work in tandem with our lead web designer and lead web developer though they have separate roles. In this way, we are able to ensure individuals on our team are knowledgeable of their role as well as closely related roles.

Do you have any questions about websites or online marketing?