So You Want to Make Websites: Which Camp do you Fit Into?

The face of the internet is provided by two very different groups: Web Developers and Graphic Designers. They both have different roles with their own unique purpose. Graphic Designers fit on the creative spectrum, and excel in telling a visual story with branding, logos, banner ads, websites or any other visual imagery. Website Developers have the less creative job of planning and programming websites. They use programming languages to set up the structure and functionality of websites.

So the question is this: Are you a warm fuzzy creative person who needs to get that exact shade of purple for your logo, or are you a technical person who can’t live without clean code?

While there are some exceptions, designers and developers are usually 2 very, very different people. That said, there’s no law that Graphic Designers can make themselves more valuable by learning some code, and programmers can’t find their way around a pixel.


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The Graphic Designers Role

graphic-designerThe creative person in the process is extremely important. If websites were all code and no graphics, the intent would be a pretty dull place. It’s the graphic designers job to gather all the information from the client and gain clear objectives. The Graphic Designer then creates different visual concepts that reflect the message the client requires. In most cases, then they hand off their images to the developer to put the pieces together.

The Web Developers Role

The Web Developer (or programmer) sets up the structure and code to create a website. They are also responsible for interaction between databases to create things like registration pages or shopping carts. Web Developers use such technologies as HTML, Javascript and CSS.

What’s the Job Market?

Now you know where you fit, what about getting a job? The US Department of Labor Statistics describes Graphic Designer as someone who creates visual concepts to communicate ideas. In 2012, the median pay for Graphic Designers in the United States was $44,150, with 259,500 jobs. The job outlook was expected to increase at a rate of 7%, slower than average.

Web Developers are described by the US Department of Labor Statistics as those who analyze needs and implement web content through code. In 2012, Web Developers in the United States had a median pay of $62,500, with 141,400 jobs. The job outlook was expected to increase at 20%, faster than average.

Graphic Designer/Web Developer Morph

So we see that the job outlook for Web Developers is pretty hot. Graphic Designers don’t have to be left out in the cold when it comes to the programmer mentality. A new trend is that Graphic Designers are breaking barriers and learning code.

This is a great idea because:

  • Graphic Designers can better prepare their images and understand coding roadblocks: What we see on the web can be radically different from the PSD or AI file. Learning code helps make the transition from Photoshop to HTML more seamless.
  • Better communication with programmers makes the process much, much easier. Designers don’t need to be a coding guru, but being able to talk the talk makes the walk much easier.
  • Graphic Designers can make smaller changes on their own without constantly running to the programmer.
  • They become more valuable: It’s a new world of cross-training. Adobe InDesign users are creating iPad apps with DPS, and Photoshop and Illustrator designers are learning HTML and CSS to become more valuable employees.

“Learning HTML and CSS creates a really valuable way for people to efficiently design for the web. For every pixel I put down in photoshop, I know exactly how I’m going to code that in HTML and CSS.” – Asher Hunt, Head mobile designer at LivePerson.

win-win strategy

So yes, according to the US Department of Labor Statistics, Web Developers make more money. But that doesn’t mean the creative visual designers have to be left out in the cold. By learning as much HTML and CSS as possible, Graphic Designers can make themselves more valuable, and elevate salaries.

The bottom line is that Graphic Designers learning code creates a “win-win” scenario for jobs and salaries.

– Jori Curry