The difference between graphic design, web design and web development

difference between graphic design, web design and web development

Jargon can suck. I want us to be on the same page.

And I bet you may have some questions about this whole “web design” thing: what the hell is web development? And aren’t web design and graphic design the same thing? I don’t even… huh?

Hey, I get it! There was a time when I too was as clueless as a panda in a hardware store.

But these concepts are important to understand for when you hire someone to make you a knock-your-pajamas-off website or do your visual branding (and while we’re at it, let’s define “branding” too!).

So behold!

The difference between graphic design, web design and web development

Graphic Design

A graphic designer knows colors and typography (basically, fonts) inside out, creates logos, and crafts visual “brands” (essentially: your colors, fonts, style, logo, etc.). They may work with photography and illustration, and also prepare designs for print (business cards, brochures, etc.) in addition to web.

And, very importantly, they should understand what styles will appeal to different ideal customers, so that they can create graphics or a brand identity that makes your dream clients love it so hard that they think you snuck a peek at their favorite Pinterest board.

Some graphic designers do web design as well, insofar as creating layouts for web pages, but usually not actually putting the website together. Many of them have no idea how to build or maintain websites (but may be brilliant at what they do, so hire them for that!).

Web Design

A web designer’s job is to create pages (on a website) with a specific design and which together with all their elements, give a website a uniform (and hopefully eye-grabbing-like-shirtless-Superman-Henry-Cavill) look + feel. They’ll think of how to make a website user-friendly (so that things are easy to find) and hopefully responsive (comfortable to browse on your phone or tablet while your freshly bathed pup rolls around in the mud at the dog park). And, of course, everything must work smoothly.

There isn’t always a big difference between the job of a web designer and a web developer, as web designers most often have some coding skills, but you’ll largely see that many web designers don’t know how to design sweet graphics or program.

Web Development

Straight-up: a web developer may not know her a** from her elbow when it comes to great design, but that’s A-okay because her job is to take a design (made by a graphic or web designer — note the word “designer” in both of those titles and absent from the title of “web developer”) and put it into your website. Her job is to implement the design and turn it into a website by using Internet languages like HTML, CSS and PHP. You may say she brings design to life.

Her work may also include setting up e-commerce (to sell your courses, e-books, sessions, etc. via your website) and website maintenance to make sure everything runs peachily.

(She’s the pale, painfully awkward one who’s obsessed with playing World of Warcraft… kidding!)

Most of them have no idea how to design graphics or create a brand identity, but this is the person you want on your side if your website runs into problems or looks like crap on phones and tablets — pure designers can’t help here, but developers will!

The Mythical Unicorn

difference between graphic design, web design and web development

Once in a blue moon you may find what I call a “unicorn” — someone who’s awesome at graphic design + web design + web development. I mean, this is like finding a straight man who’s also brainy, hot, hilarious, compassionate, emotionally mature, dresses well, cooks like a champ, shares your convictions etc-forever-ad-nauseam aaaaand of course thinks you’re the best thing ever. You know what I mean?

They do exist — maybe? — but they’re very few and far between. You’ll certainly find people who can do a few things well, but not spectacularly.

Which is why I’m so pro-team: why I run a team of specialists including graphic designers to provide you with everything you need, rather than working alone and half-as*ing your project. Naw, lady. I’ve got you covered with a team of experts on your side.

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