By Derek Prospero – Bayshore Solutions Design Team
Over the years the divide between these two fields of expertise has both grown and blurred, particularly with the advent of multi-media technologies like Flash and streaming video.
Increasingly, designers are responsible for a myriad of linear editing, meticulous search engine optimization, and markup languages (such as HTML and CSS) that many people might actually consider “code work.”
But for true coders, these hardly qualify, thereby complicating the distinction. It’s easy for those familiar with both fields to assume that creativity is the exclusive purview of designers, while structured and analytical thinking is relevant only to the tasks of a developer.
But upon closer consideration, many of these traits are shared by both camps especially here at Bayshore Solutions.
I’ve been a designer since 1997. That’s a long time in Internet years. But in spite of all that time, I remain primarily a designer, not a developer. Sure, I can build a basic site from start to finish, inclusive of all the bells, whistles and simple features and functionality you’d expect to find in a modern interface. But if you’re looking for advanced shopping cart functionality or complex database integration, you’d have to enlist the help of one of our developers and not just our design team.
Consider a typical designer scenario: a business comes to Bayshore Solutions for a website. They have provided business requirements and aesthetic examples, in addition to a large volume of content that may span many categories and relevancies. It is now our job to wrap our heads around the architecture of all this information and present it, while taking into account a slew of options and limitations that can change radically from day to day, project to project.
At our agency, the process begins by conceptualizing a layout populated with sample content and images as specified in the statement of work. Often this will involve the development of a logo, researching stock photos (or shooting our own), and the styling of text and information to make it easily digestible from an end-user perspective.
Compounding the process are many logistical considerations, such as file sizes and formats, ever-evolving screen resolutions, and a growing list of browsers that do not play well with each other, just to name a few. It may not be easy, but easily the rewards outweigh the challenges for any dedicated designer.
To be a successful web designer in a fast-paced production environment like Bayshore Solutions is to embrace and thrive in these conditions. Success commands pride in one’s work while maintaining a healthy detachment from creations that will often be rejected or heavily modified.
Not only must you be intimately familiar with your own options, you must also have a working familiarity with those of the developer in order to create designs that he/she can actually make functional. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see that designers, particularly web designers, are faced with left-brain tasks at every turn, all of which must be leveraged with consistent creativity and original thinking.
Developers, on the other hand, are not entirely left-brained, either. They are responsible for the so-called “back-end,” including (but not limited to) the structure of files, integration of forms and procedures, development of transactional code and processes, and the general maintenance of the site’s core functionalities wherever it goes beyond the visual presentation of content.
And though it is often considered a purely analytical job, there is much creativity involved in solving problems through code. Indeed, some of the very best programmers and developers are possessive of keen right-brain flexibility and creative approach. After all, any machine can spit out code, but it takes a distinctively human element to discover and apply the most efficient code solutions.
Now that broadband connections and high-resolution monitors are becoming the standard instead of the exception, Web design has evolved to a completely new level. Long gone are the days of blunt color-limitations and clunky pixel graphics. It is increasingly common for Websites to deliver high-definition imagery, interactive video content and custom-tailored soundtracks.
In fact, many modern website projects compare aptly to full-blown television productions, and it’s easy to imagine that we still have only just begun. As the line continues to blur between them, both designers and developers find themselves expanding their comfort zones in order to stay competitive.
And while software and technology continue to chip away at the repetitive tasks we’re all forced to do, we have a long way to go before human creativity is supplanted by artificial means.