Web Development Vs Web Design

If you need a website for your business, you may have decided that this is not a task you want to undertake yourself. Instead, you want to hire the help of a professional.

But should you be looking for a web designer, web developer or both?

Understanding how your website is brought to life requires you to understand the difference between web development and web design.

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were the same thing, as there does tend to be a little bit of crossover in terms of their skill set. Nowadays, most designers will have an understanding of code and vice-versa.

But if you’re talking strictly about the concepts behind web development and web design – which we are – there is a distinct difference.

In this guide, we’re going to look in more detail at the two concepts and the important role each one plays in creating and maintaining a website.

Read on to find out more.

What is web development?

Let’s start by looking at web development, as this itself can be broken down into two categories. In a nutshell, web development deals with all the code that makes a website function, and this is split into front-end and back-end development.

What is front-end development?

Front-end development sometimes referred to as client side, is all about the application of the code that determines what the website will display. This is called client side as this is what customers and clients will see visiting your website.

Essentially they turn the designer’s ideas into a reality, and this is where there is the most overlap between the two. That being said, their job is not to pick typography, colour or images, as these are usually left down to the designer. Instead, the role of the front-end developer is to bring mockups of the website to life and understand user experience to ensure they use the right technology to create the desired look and functionality.

Some of the skills required for front-end development include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, template design, search engine optimisation (SEO) and frameworks like AngularJS, to name just a few. There are lots of other skills needed to be a successful front-end web developer.

What is back-end development?

On the other side, you have back-end or server-side development. This is the area responsible for handling all the data saved within the database and feeding this to the front-end in order to be displayed.

In order to be a back-end developer, you need to handle business logic and data management; this involves routing the right data between the front and back-end. This also requires them to understand coding languages such as HP, Python, Java and C#.

Some of the other skills involved are server-side web development frameworks, database management systems, authentication, security and understanding servers like Linux and Apache.

What is web design?

Now let’s take a look at what web design entails. A web designer concerns themselves with all visual aspects of the website.

They deal with everything the user actually sees on their screen or device, as opposed to what goes on in the background. This includes aspects like colours, branding, images, typography and layout, amongst other things.

They must also take responsibility for usability, user experience, layout, information flow and any other visual-related aspects. As a result of this, some web designers are also familiar with scripting languages such as the aforementioned HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

This is where we begin to see a bit of crossover, and this can be where some of the confusion comes from when deciphering web design and web development. Web designers use these languages to help them create mockups when they are trying to pitch a design or idea for a website.

Some of the common skills required for web design are Adobe Creative Suite, graphic design, UX/UI design, branding, colour palettes and more.

What are the key differences?

We have already begun to touch on some of the key differences as we looked at the roles web design and development play in the creation of a website. However, we’re now going to look in more detail and break these down, so they are easier to understand at a glance.

So what are the major differences?

1. The skills they use

We’ve covered some of the key skills that both designers and developers need, and there are some clear differences, but these are larger than just the platforms or tools that they use.

Web design is a very creative process, whereas development is more about the technical side of things. Therefore designers must be more imaginative.

While designers concern themselves with mocking up visually appealing web pages and choosing user-friendly features, it is the developer’s job to decide whether the concept is financially and technically feasible in the first place, regardless of what the final design looks like.

2. Understanding and using code

Although some web designers might have a basic understanding of code, many do not and nor do they need to. After all, their main responsibility is not to code but rather to make the website visually appealing and ensure it offers the best possible news experience.

As they are responsible for designing the look and feel of the website, they are more likely to use visual editors or prototyping tools such as InVision or Adobe Creative Suite to create mockups. Not only this, but the increase in content management systems such as WordPress, or even website builders like Wix that don’t require any code, means they can easily design a website and put their visual talents to use without ever having to know code.

3. Creating assets

Web developers must create code to add functionality to a website. They are the ones that translate the mockups into code. So essentially, they must physically create something, whereas a web designer does not create the visual elements themselves.

Yes, they might choose the buttons, colours and fonts, but they do not have to create these themselves. They simply use the code required to implement these design features, or in the case of code-free platforms, they might even just drag and drop or choose from a predetermined sidebar of options.

4. The cost

Finally, the cost of web development is generally a lot higher than that of the design. There are a number of reasons for this. One is the technical skills required for web development, plus this process can take longer to complete.

Not only this, but there tend to be more designers available than developers, so supply and demand drive the price up.