Over the years of running my freelance design business, I‘ve come across one concept that is truly misunderstood. The more I worked with clients and discussed with peers, I realized that some terms in the design industry are ambiguous and confusing.
Brand designer. Graphic designer. Web designer. Web Developer.
Phew! All these terms are being used overlapping-ly. So are they all the same? If not, what is the difference?
So what is Brand Design and Web Design?
So first let’s talk about Brand design. Brand design is a crucial process that defines the visual identity of a brand. It involves a deep understanding of the brand’s mission, target audience and goals and strategizing in order to come up with a visual identity that speaks for the brand.
Brand Design Process:
A brand designer starts with a comprehensive understanding of the brand through a set of questionnaires that explore the goals, aesthetic needs and target audience of the brand. Once the designer has a deeper understanding of the brand, they move on to designing the primary visual elements of the brand – moodboard, logos and submarks, color and typography palettes, patterns and Illustrations. Then depending on the needs of the business, they usually work on print design for posters, brochures, business cards among other collateral pieces. Finally all the deliverables are neatly packaged as digital files in either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop formats.
Here is a quick illustration outline the branding process briefly: (Please note that the process may involve more steps depending on the nature and size of the team)
Web design, on the other hand is the process of devising a strategic design for a website – the pages, their layout, forms etc. It involves defining every aspect of the look and functionality of the website and requires implementation of visual design principles and consideration of user experience. So, a web designer creates a design that is visually appealing and at the same time works well for the user.
Web design process:
A web designer starts with developing a web strategy for the brand through a thorough understanding of the business’ goals. Once the web strategy is done, a web designer creates an attractive, on-brand website design which strives to drive the desired results for the business. Based on the brand identity, a website designer will first whip up a web style guide including all the necessary web design elements : type, space, color, icons, forms, buttons, menus etc. Then, they’ll move on to creating wireframes and mockups for every single page on the website so the client knows exactly how the website will look and function before it is built.
Here is a quick illustration outline the web design process briefly:
Brand Designer vs Web Designer : The difference
There is a misconception that a brand designer along with designing the visual brand identity also builds websites. Sure, today there are many brand designers who put together amazing websites on visual website builders like Squarespace, Weebly etc. But brand designers needn’t necessarily know the specifics of website design or coding. And so, brand designers often work in tandem with a website designer to design a website.
A web designer uses the brand identity that the brand designer has developed in order to design the website. A web designer focuses on devising a strategy in order to achieve the goals of the business through their online distribution channel i.e the website. Whether the goals are more traffic, more sales – the web designer works on designing a website that fulfills these goals while also creating a smooth user experience.
*A web designer need not necessarily know how to code but needs to know at least the basics so they know how to communicate with a web developer.
So then, who is a Web Developer?
Web development is the actual process of creating the website. Web development is the process of writing code and scripts that bring the web design to life. In other words, web development enables web design. A web developer needs great programming and coding skills to bring the design that a web designer has created to reality.
So a web developer is the cool one that actually builds the website. They are geeky. They are very function-oriented. Writing code is their jam. Although, today its easier to build websites without much knowledge of coding (thanks to visual builders like Squarespace), when it comes to building custom sites whether on WordPress or Squarespace – you need a deeper understanding of how code works. And that’s when the role of a web developer becomes indispensable.
Web development process:
A web developer works closely with a web designer in order to build the web design into a fully functional website. They start with understanding the wireframes, mockups and overall functionality of the website. They then code the smaller modules like sections, pages and then tie them altogether to form the full website. They also integrate the necessary content to the website i.e text, graphics and images and takes care of the SEO, sitemap, error pages, plugins etc. Basically they put all the nuts and bolts in place so the website is fully functional and ready to go LIVE.
Here is a quick illustration outline the web development process briefly:
The gist of the entire story:
So a brand designer, web designer and web developer all play different roles in the end-to-end design of a brand and website. Of course there is overlap in their roles. The web designer often works with the brand designer to understand the nuances the brand and uses the brand identity to move forward with the website design. Similarly the web developer works with the web designer to understand the specifics of the website design.
Big question : Can one person play more than one of these roles?
YES, absolutely! A brand designer can also design websites. And a web designer can also be a web developer (cough cough – yours truly!). The only thing is that the person needs to have the necessary skills required for each role, understand the distinction between the roles and work through the steps of each process.
So there you go, I hope this post was helpful in shedding light on all these terms that are thrown around a lot in the design industry. And I had a lot of fun making these fun Illustrations too 😉 [can you tell I am a beginner? ;)] Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed putting this post together.