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Web Design, Web Development or User-Centered Design? Career Moves for the Creative Problem Solver

January 28, 2020 at 1:02AM
Web Design, Web Development or User-Centered Design? Career Moves for the Creative Problem Solver

There seems to be a bit of overlap between the definitions of tech-industry terms like web design, web development, and UX/UI. While these tools each have their own role and function in the process of building and designing websites, how can you distinguish between them, and where can you find your best fit within relevant, emerging industries? 


The internet is always evolving, so it makes sense for there to be some overlap between terms in the tech field. But ultimately, what is their relation to each other? When developing a website, “web designers” (responsible for aesthetic design) and “web developers” (concerned with technical functionality) work in unison. 

Someone who works in web design might have found their way into the industry after working previously in graphic design, as they’re in charge of designing the aesthetics of a website. Web designers often know HTML/CSS and Javascript, and they are tasked with “front-end” development (what you can see). Web developers differ slightly because their focus remains in development on the “back-end” of a website (what you can’t see). 

Furthermore, if you think of web design as a larger umbrella, UX/UI are specialties that fall underneath it and work together. When building out a website, web application, or mobile application, “UX” stands for user-experience and “UI” stands for user-interface. Think of design in this instance as less about creating art and more about finding solutions to problems. In a way, a UX/UI designer is a visionary responsible for building a user’s satisfaction and interaction with a system, service or product. This is done by improving the usability, accessibility, and desirability to offer a great user experience. Unlike web designers and developers, UX designers might also work with analog products like new kitchen gadgets, consumer goods, or medical devices.


If you’re looking to dive into a new career, it can be a bit of a challenge deciding among web design, web development, and UX/UI.  It's important to take that first step in your career journey and decide what aligns best with your goals. For example, if you’re currently a developer looking to elevate your career path, it might be helpful to learn a little UX/UI on top of your web development knowledge. Here are a few suggestions to figure out which is best for you:

  • Web design career tracks might just be a perfect fit for creatives and visual thinkers with the know-how to design and build websites, as well as aspiring designers looking to broaden their skills and ultimately increase their income potential. 

  • If you enjoy both finding AND implementing solutions and see an error message as a fun challenge, you might want to learn more about web development. It’s perfect if you’re interested in working with computer software, the internet, information technology and services, marketing and advertising, or financial services. 

  • As a user-experience designer, you’re more interested in making improvements for others. As an aspiring designer, developer, creative director, entrepreneur, or project manager, you’re open to different ways of thinking and looking at the world. If you like to analyze how an application functions, looks, and feels, and want to identify the specific ways individuals prefer to interact with the product, UX/UI could be for you. 


Have you decided on a discipline that speaks to your career needs and aspirations? You’ll want to build up your resume for a career within the industry.

Continue to do further research into the rapidly growing fields of web design and development and user-experience design (UX/UI) to find your best fit within these industries, and then upgrade your skills with a certificate program in Web Design & Development or User-Centered Design (UX/UI).

In our online Web Design & Development certificate program, students learn the latest tools and techniques employed by the technology industry to design and build websites, create digital applications, and produce portfolio-worthy projects. After taking two introductory courses, students choose whether to specialize in a web design or web development track. This course is ideal for:

  • Beginners interested in web design, mobile design, UX/UI or web development

  • Print designers who want to move into digital products and design larger ecosystems

  • UX/UI designers looking to understand code

Our online certificate program in User-Centered Design (UX/UI) will introduce you to the current industry tools and techniques used for UX, and begins with a focus on research methods and information architecture. This course is a great fit for: 

  • Designers looking to broaden their skill set by incorporating pervasive and ubiquitous computing approaches

  • Developers looking for opportunities to incorporate UX practices into their work

  • App makers, designers, developers, and anyone else on the team of website creators looking to offer a richer experience across many bandwidths

Ready to make your next career move? Get started today.

Written by Casey O’Connell for Open Campus at The New School.

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