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When two minds work on the same task, there is always bound to be a clash of views and opinions….just like the legendary David and Goliath and Tom and Jerry rivalry. I believe, Graphic Designers and Web Developers also share a similar love-hate relationship. Especially when working on a web design project, disagreements are inevitable between the designers and developers.

Being a graphic designer, I have been working alongside web developers for years and this taught me the general points of contention between the two professionals. Below are the reasons, which I think, never let a graphic designer and web developer make a happy pair ;).


1. Difference of Targets:

The first issue that causes conflict between a graphic designer and web developer is the difference of targets and goals. Both have divergent goals that eventually fulfill a single purpose…customer satisfaction. The designer’s main target is to make the design visually attractive and appealing for the client. While on the other hand, developer’s main goal is to assure the functionality and accessibility for the viewer. This is where the real clashes occur.

2. Artistic vs Functional:

The next issue that arises between designers and developers is the way of thinking. Both have a completely divergent approach of working. While designers have an artistic mindset, developers are the functional and brainy type. Designers try to play with various elements of graphic design like typography, colors and styles; making it difficult for the developers to convert those complex styles into CSS or HTML. Developers simply detest when designers use hi-fi styles.

3. Invalid File Formats:

Another key point of contention is the unacceptable file formats. Since the graphic designer’s main arsenal is Illustrator and Photoshop, he usually prefers sending his work to the developer in .EPS or .PDF format. That really annoys a developer to receive files containing multiple layers with no names. Similarly, sometimes when developers send a script to designers as a sample, the issue of invalid file format again arises as the graphic designers are not well versed with scripts.

4. Timing Conflict:

When designers are on board with developers, synchronization of time is a big issue. Since graphic designers complete their part of the work relatively faster than developers, they have to wait patiently for the developers to develop the code and proceed with the finalization of the project. Since developer’s work involves intricate coding and set of rules and procedures.


5. Communication Gap:

When two experts are working on one project, communication gap is almost certain as both think laterally. Since both are professionals, there is a huge space of conveying one’s message to the other. For example if the designer tries to tell the developer about the scripts and HTML, the developer will flatly reply “I don’t need you telling me how to do my work.” The same goes the other way around as well.

6. Undue Credit

In most of the cases, the designers are the ones who get the credit for execution of the design project. Be it web designing or graphic designing, the designers usually receive all the praise and recognition since they are at the front end of the process. While developers are mostly at the back end of the entire venture, they are sidelined when the times comes for acknowledgment and praise.


Who’s the Real Boss?

You must have heard of the phrase, “There can be only one Captain to a ship.”  Likewise, I have always wondered…between the designer and developer who is the real boss? Who should be the steering head of the design venture? Should it be the developer who maneuvers the execution of the project or should it be the designer who creates the blueprint of the design?

I want this post to be a platform for graphic designers and web developers both….what is the main reason of the clashes between you two professionals ;)


  1. Bryan Ruiz On April 20th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    This might just be me but I have experience in both graphic and web design so I can see both sides to this. I worked in the web capacity in my last job and there were two designers that worked on print and video and we managed to get along fine but there were times when some of their suggestions were things that would be more beneficial in print and not on the web.

    Great post!

  1. Jennifer Jones On April 20th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Amazing post :)
    It covers all the aspects of clashes between the two professionals.
    Hats Off to graphicdesignblog!!

  1. surdoslav On April 20th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    i trully think its the graaphic designer who is on the top. because in my opinion almost everything a designer create, a developer can put on work. so in these times there are really no limits for graphic designers, and developer have no limits to make the design work:) i am sorry for my english, but i hope you all understand my opinion:)


  1. On April 20th, 2011 at 9:18 am

    i’m the real boss :D
    great article

  1. David Bushell On April 20th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Another stupid “Designers vs Developers” article.

    It isn’t a competition. If you can’t work with others you have incompetent team skills. To comment on the first two points: 1. Everyone has the same target of producing a good website. 2. This is complete nonsense, design is as much about function as it is about art, and development can be very creative.

    Learn to work with people!

  1. Mansour KHEFFACHE On April 20th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I think that developer IS the boss. Because you can make a good website, with awesome scripts and functionnalities, with a less awesome design. But can you imagine a well designed website without a good coding ? ;)

  1. Smashing Magazine On April 20th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Graphic Designer not worthless unless they accomplish their targets, unfortunately today graphic designer & web developers are both in problematic situations. they haven’t get their tasks. what do we need to re-build our targets? Idea not bad.

    thanks for this. its help for those who suffer these problem with their work.

    Thanks GDB for this interactive post.

  1. Jeff K On April 20th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I think there’s a difference now (if there wasn’t before) between Graphic Designer and Web Designer. I consider myself a Web Designer/Developer, but not a Graphic Artist/Designer.

    I believe that a Web Designer has a better understanding of *web site* design where a Graphic Designer excels at logo/branding, not web-sites. I think the key is to understand the differences between the professions, so that you can learn where your skills stretch.

    The only way to avoid conflict is for both (or all) parties to suck it up and learn from the other. A developer needs to learn to like aesthetics and a designer needs to learn a little CSS (Web Designer should definitely know this).

    Just my two cents. Keen to hear other’s thoughts :)

  1. 8 Latests News of Web and Graphic Design Blogs | Lee Agosila On April 21st, 2011 at 9:55 am

    [...] The Clashes between Graphic Designers and Web Developers – A Cold War! [...]

  1. Brighten On April 21st, 2011 at 10:43 am

    In my experience developers and designers are a great compliment to each other in building and designing a website. Developers have insights that designers don’t have and vice versa. It has been a pleasure for me to work with developers on different jobs. As a designer, it is easy to think that everyone thinks the way we do and you we have all the solutions… but that isn’t the case. Web designers and developers need to work together with their different skill sets and insights for a comprehensive and effective design to be reached.

    If well planned information architecture, usability and functionality are thrown out the window, you may have a site that “looks” good but is of no use at all. What good is a shiny car with a beautiful paint job if the motor is missing under the hood?


  1. Scott Simsa On April 21st, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Good article..

    I agree with this, my current roomate and I went to the same design school then split up into the field and now we are working together.. He went more with web while I did print.. Well we found one client and made a website for him. It was astonishing the differences we had.. Having the the same teachers I was always more artistic and him more technical..

    When I build a website i do it more visually while he builds from scratch with code.. I can read and right Html and css but very sloppily..

    Idk, I think the only way to win in this is to be a jack of all trades..

  1. Lee Agosila On April 23rd, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Both of them are boss in their different skills.,

  1. Photoshop Clipping Path On April 25th, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Both are the real boos and that’s why are fighting each other. I like it.

  1. Calgary Web Design On April 28th, 2011 at 3:50 am

    The web designer’s role is all about the visual and usability aspects of the site. This is not so much about creating images, which is the job of the graphic artist, but is more about the layout and experience as a whole. The primary job of a web developer is to make the designer’s mock-up a reality. This is a front end developer specializing in web interfaces.

  1. Nacho On April 29th, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I got a Graphic Design degree, after 6 years working as a Designer (including freelance work) I decided to take Software Engineering. So, It been 2 years im back to the University and about a year that I ve been working as a developer. I love coding, but still do some freelance every once in a while. Great things can be accomplished when both parties extend their hands in collaboration and try to understand the others.


  1. Lucy Pitt On May 3rd, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I agree that designers and web masters should be able to work together. Creating websites is a team effort and if you can’t work with people then perhaps you shouldn’t consier a job in design

  1. Bobskeyboardz On May 3rd, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    a web designer is usually a graphic designer as well, I am both.

  1. Richard Ball On May 6th, 2011 at 2:39 am

    i was and still am a graphic designer but for every print job i get there are 10 web request, so its simple… adapt yourself.

  1. printing company On May 9th, 2011 at 2:30 am

    You site give me their inspiration, thanks!

  1. Pixel-Byte On May 19th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    A bit hard as it sounds, but Brushell comment is right. This difference tends to disappear, especially when today’s tools are seamlessly integrated, making this line less and less visible. The article is valuable, not all of us have 40 years and have read all the articles that talk about designers vs. developers, this is a first for me. Thanks

  1. Johan On May 24th, 2011 at 4:24 am

    My programmer would kill me if I gave her a PDF-file :P

  1. JeffWertGD On June 2nd, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Having a clearly defined decision-making hierarchy in the development process and having well-informed, knowledgeable partners to interact with is a must to get the final result out of a concept document and into production.

    When working as a team, both web and graphic designers should be aware of one another’s skill set and plan upfront accordingly. Just because you “can”, doesn’t mean you “should” on a myriad of projects. Cost and time are valuable commodities to most companies and clients.

  1. Scott @sydneydesign On July 28th, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Hi Great post, definately a lot of team work is required between the designer and developer. otherwise it can be difficult.
    Cheers Scott

  1. Marco On November 10th, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Great article! As a developer, I’ve always envied the inspirational work of a good designer. I always learn a lot from them, and I consider myself an amateur designer :) . I don’t see it as a war though

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