Function Over Form: Development Vs. Design

The terms web development and web design are often confused and thought to be one and the same thing. The roles that are involved in each of the niches are often thought to be composed of similar elements. Although, it is true that some factors have to be considered by both the parties in order to reach a consensus since web development and web design are both interdependent. The fact remains that both of these two lines of work that are crucial to the formation of a website are actually starkly distinctive from each other. When it comes to the roles associated with web development vs. web design, both differ from each other on various grounds.

What is Web Design?

Think of web designers as artists that help in building a story or an idea into something that can be presented in a visually appealing aspect. They help build a layout for a website that achieves the client’s vision regarding the user experience of the website. A web designer is a person who is responsible for how a website looks and feels. A web designer does a job that is similar to an architect building a plan before starting construction on your house. The web designer is the person who draws out the initial layout of the website (just like the plans of an architect) before a web developer can input his efforts to develop (similar to the construction of the house) the website.

The role of a web designer is not as easy as it seems. They have to create the initial impression that you would have when you visit a website and, along with it, integrate the elements of user experience in order to create an environment which appears to be welcoming. They have to transform an idea into a design that can be used while also serving the purpose of being a great user interface. They also have the task of creating a site that catches the attention of the user. If the website fails to adopt a well-knit design strategy before the beginning of the project, then it is sure to fail. In today’s day and age a web designer enjoys the same respect as a web developer because it has been realized that great coding would be futile if the user experience that complements it is not done properly.

The elements of typography, colors, design, aesthetics, textures, unity, branding, user experience, user interaction, and emphasis all come under the purview of a good web design. All of the visual elements that are capable of making a website look great while also serving the goals of the client, whether that is lead capture, promotion of an event, or ecommerce. Web designing applications include programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Mockplus, and UXPin can be used to help build up the user experience of a website.

What is Web Development?

Web developers are those people who are capable of transforming the design aspects of a webpage into a live and functional website that is actually capable of working. Different kinds of software tools and web languages that are used for programming and coding are utilized by web developers in order to create a functional website.

Even web developers are divided further into two consecutive sub-categories. These two categories are namely back-end developers and front-end developers.

Front-end developers are those people who have some knowledge in both the fields of developing and designing. They are the connection between a back-end developer and a web designer. A front-end developer is responsible for building up the interface of the website and making the website interactive in order to connect the layout at the user’s end along with the back-end servers of the website. The most important programming languages that are used by front-end developers include HTML, CSS/SCSS, and JavaScript (JQuery, React, Angular, and Vue being the most popular libraries and frameworks).

Back-end developers, on the other hand, are those developers who are responsible for controlling the requests and the server data of the website. Most websites which consist of dynamic data as part of their database require services on the back-end. If a website is designed to serve the purpose of storing user information and making said information available at a later stage, creating and managing a back-end database is intrinsic. Database connections are required in order to manage such queries and back-end developers take help of programs like ASP.NET and PHP in order to write these kinds of database queries in MySQL, SQL, MongoDB, or other database languages.

Function over form: Web Development vs. Web Design

When you talk about form of an object, it basically refers to how the object looks, or what visual features it possesses. In the world involving the intricacies of building a website this aspect refers to the web designing department. On the other hand, function of an object refers to the purpose that the object aims to serve. In the world of websites, web development is the department that best describes this term.

In the words of the famous American architect Louis Sullivan, “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change…It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

What these words try to mean is that whatever be the entity, it is always the functionality of that entity which decides how the entity shall be formed. Modernism has impacted these philosophies and therefore led to the conception that it is the functionality of an object which decides how it should look. Even in the world of building a website, this notion holds true whereby it is the function of a website that decides how a website should look like or how it should be formed.

It is true that designing, in most scenarios, involves designing the website first before the developing is started. However, every time a web designer designs a website, he/she has to keep in mind the function that the web page is being designed to serve. A web designer must keep in mind the basic interactive experience that the web page must provide and the features that need to be highlighted in order to allow the users to do a particular task on the webpage. Therefore, it is without doubt that a web designer must always design a web page depending upon the factors that are most important to its functionality and thereby shape the webpage to look a particular way that best serves these functionalities. The web developer simply tweaks the web page at the end of the designing process to enable the functionalities that the web page has been designed to serve in the initial place. Hence the function is always considered before the form and the entire webpage is designed based on that, only to be programmed later to activate those functionalities. Therefore it can be easily concluded that in the debate of web development vs. web design, function always triumphs over form. This is especially true when you look at the goals of the client and the user interaction on that website. If a website has not been coded and optimized for SEO will not rank and will not draw visitors to it. If a website has not been optimized for user interaction, then the visitors who do come to the site will not give information or buy your product.

Many times designers use client sites to pad their design portfolios and win design awards, but this does not benefit the client at all. A pretty website will not generate as many leads or sales as a fully-functioning, optimized, and user-friendly site.

PATH Coalition of KY

PATH (People Against Trafficking Humans) Coalition of KY needed help with their digital marketing, so they came to Design Web to get launched on the internet. We were able to not only put together a great site, but also other print marketing materials as well. The website was able to give all of the relevant information needed for their non-profit while maintaining the look and feel of their brand. We also helped them put together custom email addresses for everyone in their organization. They now have a presence on the web that showcases the great cause they represent.

Spencer County Physical Therapy

Becky and Lisa from Spencer County Physical Therapy were in need of a website redesign. We put together a simple, yet informative, website to show off all the great work they do with physical therapy. The great thing about websites and the internet is that small businesses can compete with larger corporations, and we were able to create a site for Spencer County Physical Therapy that put them on an equal playing field with larger hospital networks in the region. If you need help with your site, or want to put your new business on the internet, contact us for quick, affordable, and helpful service.