Why a web designer and a graphic artist are and should be two entirely distinct roles.

Back then when the internet was young, I was searching for a way to have a website created, on behalf of a friend. In my search, I came across some articles, which I found using the AltaVista search engine, describing the process and expertise needed to create a website.

There were three different jobs described in those articles. The first was that of a web-developer, that is the person responsible for writing the code behind the website, in HTML of course. The second was that of a graphic artist who would be the one designing the graphics of the page. The third was the most interesting and was describing a person whose job would be to plan the user’s experience when exploring the website. This expert would figure out what the user’s demands would be, in relation to the website, and would predict his journey through and interaction with it, and had to make sure that the website would get built as to allow the perfect and easiest journey for the user. This expert’s title would be “the web designer”.

The years passed and somehow these job descriptions stuck with me. But that didn’t happen with everyone else. Nowadays, most people refer to the title “web designer” meaning the graphic artist behind the creative artwork of the website.

But to me, it still makes sense to have a different person, responsible for the designing of the user’s journey through a website. A graphic artist, though talented as he/she may be, cannot focus on two totally different things: the artwork and the interaction of a website.

Planning a user’s interaction with a website is similar to designing a blueprint for the provision of a service. It requires predicting the needs and wants of the user, imagining his points of contact/interaction with the service/website, figuring out what his most desired path towards the completion of his desired task would be, and making sure that the website will allow for the easiest and most logical path to that completion.

On the other hand, the graphic artist’s job would be to experiment with shapes, sizes, colours, images, titles and all the important elements that will make a website appealing and aesthetically attractive to the user.

For me, these are two totally distinct responsibilities and I would suggest to my clients/colleagues to keep thinking about these two jobs as separate processes in the successful creation of a website. Exactly like those archaic articles from AltaVista suggested.


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