The entire world appears to have decided to start developing apps, web pages, and web apps. Millions of apps are available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and the number is growing. On top of that, over 250,000 new websites are added to the internet every day.
Each new page, app, or web app may require the participation of developers, designers, programmers, and coders. While many people quickly switch between these terms to describe the same functions, there are significant differences between them.
So, what is the distinction between coding and programming? What is the difference between the work of web developers and web designers? Consider the construction of a new office building as an example. The coders, programmers, developers, and designers ensure that the “building” is well-designed and functions properly.
Recognizing key roles in application and website development
Architects are examples of designers
Designers are the project’s conceptualizers. Designers are responsible for the overall user interface and user experience of an application or web page, including its feel and function, in the same way that architects determine what a building will look like and its general purpose.
However, the designer’s responsibilities extend far beyond an application’s surface appearance and general functionality. They are intimately involved in the selection of features and the clarification of how the various components of an app interact with one another. Consider this the building’s internal layout: how do people and services move between different areas?
Designers also collaborate closely with other members of the development team to ensure that the final product meets the specifications. They, along with others, ensure that the application’s “punch list” is completed.
Designers may or may not be in charge of the more practical aspects of app development, such as creating workflows and coding. Designers do not typically code, but with the help of low-code or no-code drag-and-drop web development tools, they can create websites and web applications with little knowledge or experience in programming or coding.
Developers are system engineers / programmers.
The term “developer” encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, especially because it is frequently used in conjunction with other words. There are, for example, system developers, software developers, app developers, web developers, frontend developers, backend developers, and others. Every profession has its own set of skills and specialties. There is also a wide range of definitions for these various developers.
Consider this Techopedia definition of a web developer, which ties web development to backend development: “A web developer is usually concerned with the back end or programming aspect of creating a website or Web application, and should not be confused with a web designer, who only deals with the aesthetics of a website or application, though many professionals have both skill sets.”
Upwork, a well-known freelance design, development, and coding services provider, on the other hand, connects web developers to both frontend and backend development. Some go so far as to combine web design and development, making developers responsible for an application from start to finish.
Backend developers work in the same capacity as building systems engineers, but instead of designing electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, they create the internal structures that allow the application to function. Similarly, frontend developers convert visual mock-ups into functional specifications. Developers are also responsible for post-construction maintenance, such as updating applications as needed.
The general contractors are the programmers.
Now we reach the point where the distinctions between functions begin to blur (i.e., the frequently asked question, “What is the difference between coding and programming?” Programmers perform many of the same tasks as developers, and they are frequently skilled coders with a broad knowledge of programming languages. Programming and coding are probably the most loosely used terms in our vocabulary. However, programming is more about logical flows than coding minutiae. As a result, it is at a higher level of development than coding.
Programmers create the decision trees and logical structures that coders then implement from a 30,000-foot perspective. They are well-versed in the entire range of how logic is translated into program structures, whether in object-oriented programming regimes or other programming schemes. Programmers are problem solvers who serve as the functional link between high-level design and detailed code.
Programmers require many of the same skills as developers and coders, though they do not need to know how to code theoretically. However, from a practical standpoint, programmers are invariably skilled coders and are frequently one and the same during the development process.
Coders are skilled craftspeople.
Coders, in our analogy, perform the function of skilled tradespeople. Coders, like the electricians, plumbers, and HVAC specialists who take blueprints and system designs and install all of the services required to make a building function, turn specifications into a working product.
Coders, on the other hand, do not simply write code, hand it over, and walk away. Instead, they work hard to optimize code. Instead of writing code from scratch, coders will determine which existing libraries and modules they can use to reduce the amount of time they have to spend on a given project.
Effective coders also understand that the size and speed of an application can be critical factors in determining whether or not consumers will use it. For example, internet users are obsessed with website load speed—if a mobile site takes more than three seconds to load, more than half of visitors will abandon it. Because the size of an application can affect its speed, coders work hard to optimize the structure of their code.
Coders are also the primary quality control personnel in the application development process. They debug and test code as they write it to ensure that the application functions properly. As a result, they must be knowledgeable about both black box (external focus) and white box (internal focus) testing processes and tools such as SAST, DAST, and IAST.
Coders may also be in charge of integrating critical compliance features (such as data privacy and cybersecurity) into an application. They must be familiar with the principles of privacy by design and security by design, which are becoming increasingly important in application development.
Use the appropriate people for the appropriate jobs
Web development functions overlap in the same way that general contractors can be skilled electricians and architects can be systems engineers. So, if you’re wondering what the difference is between coding and programming, the truth is that developers and programmers can also be designers or coders, and vice versa. Although developers typically have skills that cover all functions, these terms should not be used interchangeably.
Language precision is important, as is coding, programming, and development precision. The more precisely the functions are defined, the better you will understand the overall app-development process.