People are visual by nature, we are influenced by colours and layout, and are captivated by moving imagery. Yet, people are also drawn towards simplicity and familiarity – when it comes to websites, we don't like working hard. Within seconds of landing on a website, a person will form an impression of not only the site itself, but also the branding and company that it represents. It falls to the designer and developer to captivate users and hold their attention. As websites are in increasingly high competition with each other, creating more and more roles within the digital industry – who has the most power: the designer or the developer?
Putting this question to our in-house web developers (WDV) and web designers (WD), it quickly became clear that there is no conclusive answer. Instead, the question helped to separate the two roles.
How would you describe the influence of design/development?
WDV: ''Code is at the root of all functionality, it is far superior to the speed of processing that can be achieved manually and is an endless source of information and knowledge - it can automate manual tasks that would equal days or weeks for a person.''
WD: ''If a website is designed well and works well, the evidence will be clear in web traffic and engagement – ensuring the user enjoys using the site is always of paramount importance.''
Where does creativity feature?
WDV: ''Coding is an ongoing process of problem-solving. Creativity comes in finding the most efficient or user-friendly way to do something that is easy and intuitive for the user.''
WD: ''Creativity features through the use of effective imagery, placement of graphics and relevant calls to action. A design is a collaborative piece in which the overall aesthetic draws a user in.''
What strikes you first on a website?
WDV: ''Its capability. I am always interested in functionality and how websites best streamline my online search – such as built-in soundclips, wishlists.''
WD: ''The design and interactive elements. Users don't absorb digital information in the same way as print media. The positioning of key elements of the website (navigation, logos, graphics), always strikes me first.The most impressive site I have seen is The Bear Grylls site, as it’s like a cinematic experience, with moving elements that draw you in. The work of David Carson is also consistently impressive, he’s a trendsetter for design and everything he does is out of the box.''
What has more influence on a user: design or development?
WDV: '' Design has to be done so the user intuitively understands what to do. Development has to have functionality that synergises with this – so that when a user clicks something, it does what they expect it to do.''
WD:''Design is what the user will naturally be drawn to. It helps solidify users buying into style and brand which creates brand loyalty. But without the support of a strong interface, even the best design cannot deliver a good user experience.''
Is there a natural affinity for design/development?
WDV: ''Development is problem-solving and when you solve a problem it's very rewarding. As long as you're interested in coding and dedicated, you can learn. The number of new things to learn grows exponentially. It's difficult not to start trying to learn every new thing you hear about – but it's best to get a solid understanding of the things you will actually use.''
WD: ''It was the challenge of keeping up-to-date with new trends that drew me to graphic design and continues to fascinate me. Web design is an ongoing learning curve as new ways of doing things come into play.''
How much cross-over is there between design and development?
WDV: ''Design harmony, visual hierarchy, the balance of design elements and functionality play a heavy hand in the production of a quality digital product.''
WD: ''They work hand-in-hand, great design comes from having the knowledge of what can be done in development. One can’t function properly without the other.''
The digital industry is one of the fastest growing, and progressive, sectors in the developed world. As the boundaries of creativity are constantly pushed thanks to developing technology, designers and developers adapt their creativity to consistently raise the bar on what is possible - including now taking steps towards sustainable web development.
So, who is responsible for changing the digital world?
The power lies with you, the user.
Creatures of habit, the biggest challenge is trying to change user behaviour. Web designers and web developers are artists, providing all the functionality we need and in just the right places, to make sure that you don't even have to think. Well-crafted websites make navigating them so easy that it is second-nature, the experience is so straightforward and intuitive that users keep returning, successfully increasing revenue with a seamless design that is well-executed by development.
Alice Learey, digital marketing executive, Hydra Creative