In the old days (a year or so ago) it was normal procedure to mock up static designs in Photoshop, get design approval, and then pass to a front-end developer to build the HTML and CSS. After that our back-end developers would integrate into the chosen CMS or E-commerce platform and that was it. Sure, the developers and designers would collaborate and work out mouse over effects on buttons and different hyperlink states, but it didn't go much further than that.

Creative Web Development was born

At a recent AWWWARDS Conference we attended, we found one particular talker discuss a new need for a 'creative developer.' We had not heard that phrase before but realised this is what our creative team had started doing, naturally. We had always thought about UX (user experience) but came to the conclusion simply UX designing wasn't enough. We really had to focus on the UX in the initial conceptual stage and merge what was two separate phases (design and build) together. Rather than designing static mock ups, our web designers actually designed using JavaScript, HTML and CSS to show how the website would interact and engage with the people using it.

Web Developers vs Web designers

Web development and web design are two different disciplines. Web Developers take a design and code it; they do not necessarily have that creative touch to add the special effects that make a real difference when it comes to user engagement. Likewise, web designers do not necessarily have the technical knowledge to develop or understand and explain what is possible when it comes to JavaScript animation, page build and overall special effects. This leaves a gap in the overall web creation process and although it perhaps will not ruin a site, it will certainly not be as good as it could be.

The advantages of a Creative Developer

A Creative Developer has both creative design skills and web development knowledge - they have the vision to build at least part of a web page during conceptual design stages to demonstrate how the website will come alive and really engage with its users. This means a clearer vision of the end website and at least from our own experience since adopting this process, we have seen:

  • Faster design approval - clients can see a more 'complete' website rather than relying on imagination
  • Faster build phase - certain elements were already built during design phase
  • Happier clients - everyone loves to see things moving!
  • Happier, more creative designers - designers love to experiment and create new ideas

Has your design agency taken on Creative Development or do you find the traditional design and development phases work well for you still? It would be great to read other opinions and points of view, so please tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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