Web Design vs. Web Development – What’s the difference?

When I meet new people, I often get asked, “What do I do for a living?” and I reply that I’m a web designer. I use this title because it’s a safe “catch-all” phrase that lets people understand what I do in general, without bombing them with job titles that they can’t understand.

The term “web designer” works in situations when you are talking to someone who doesn’t belong to the web industry. But what if you are talking to a web professional that is not alien to these terms? In that case, this generalization is not enough to explain what you do.

So what do the terms web design and web development really mean? Can someone be both? Whom should I approach when I’m looking to build a new website or mobile application?

Often times, these terms are used interchangeably. In this post, we’ll be discussing web design vs. development and how to keep the terms straight.

What is Web Design?

Web design governs everything related to visual aspects of a website including color scheme, layout, and information flow. Think about web designers as those who transform an idea into an aesthetically pleasing design. As an architect would create a plan for your new house before building it, similarly a web designer would create a layout of your website before a web developer can start working on it.

In general, web design is concerned with what the user actually sees on their computer and how the users interact with it. They design the components with end users in mind. Through the use of colors, typography, and layout; they are able to build high-quality website concepts bringing digital experience to life.

The Role of Web Designers

Web designers do much more than simply make a website more pretty. They truly dictate the usability of the website. In addition to making a website look gorgeous, they need to create a welcoming environment for the user. They have to change an idea into a usable interface that catches the user’s attention. As web designers constantly work to make their websites simple to browse and more functional, you may even see a web designer listed as UX or UI designer as their main focus is on user interaction.

Over the years, the role of web designers has evolved quite a bit. A web designer spearheads the user experience planning and visual components of the website while focusing on the color scheme, typography, and layout. They work to maintain overall consistency of the entire website, so as to ensure a unity in the layout.

Some of the common skills that differentiate web designers from web developer are:

  • Graphic Design
  • Branding
  • Placing Call to Action Buttons
  • Wireframes, mockups, and storyboards
  • Color Palettes

What is Web Development?

Web development, without any doubt, is the backbone of any website. In general, web development involves all the code that makes websites tick. Think about web developers as those who turn the designs into reality.

Web developers can be divided into two categories: front-end developers and back-end developers. It is the job of a front-end developer to determine how the website will display designs mocked by a web designer. As you might have guessed, it is often the line between a web designer and front-end developer that gets blurred creating all the confusion.

On the other hand, a back-end developer mainly deals with server data and requests. A website needs back-end developers if it requires dynamic data and making it available at a later stage. Usually, it is made possible by making a database connection from the server itself. Compared to a front-end developer, a back-end developer is more concerned about how a site works and how users get things done on it. A typical example of a back-end developer’s work includes adding a shopping cart to an e-commerce website connecting it to a payment gateway.

The Role of Web Developers

Just like a web designer, the role of web developer can vary greatly depending on the company. Once the planning and design process is complete, web developers enter into the picture and bring the vision to life. The design in non-interactive at this stage and this is where a web developer jumpstarts the design into an operating website.

A front-end developer will use HTML for the structure of the website, CSS for visual styles and even some JavaScript. From the main site layout to inserting images and flow of different pages, it is the work of a front-end developer which users generally see on a website.

For small-scale businesses and smaller projects, front-end development may be the only kind of web development that is needed. For larger and complex projects, front-end developers are supported by back-end web developers who are responsible for server-side application logic.

Consisting of the server, database, and server-side application, the work of back-end developer provide the real “behind the scenes” functionality to a website. With a deep understanding of programming languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby, ASP and, Java, back-end developers utilize their skill sets to develop custom web applications

Take Away

I hope you now have a clearer understanding of the difference between web design and development. At the end of the day, both web designers and web developers work closely towards a common goal – to create a website that encourages users to interact with your business.

Wondering whether you need a web designer or web developer for your project? Contact the expert team at Wisdek Corp to discuss your requirements in details.

“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain

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