Web Design vs. Web Development: What’s the Difference?

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Web Design vs. Web Development

Are you unsure if you need a web designer or a web developer? If so, then this article is for you.

We’ll discuss the differences between web design and web development in detail, exploring when and why to consider each. After reading, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about how to proceed with your project.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or expanding an existing site, understanding which of these two services will best support your needs is critical.

Let’s start uncovering the key distinctions between web design vs. web development.

Web Design vs. Web Development Overview

The main difference between web design and web development is that web design focuses on the look and feel of a website, while web development focuses on making a website functional.

Web designers handle the visual and creative aspects of building websites, while developers tackle the coding and technical aspects.

If you need someone to make your site look great, you’ll want to hire a website designer. If you want someone to code a custom solution or work on your site’s technical setup, you’ll need a web developer.

It’s important to note that web designers and developers often overlap in their roles. For example, some web designers have knowledge of HTML and CSS. They can write code for simple tasks, even if they don’t have the same coding skills as a developer. Some developers also have design capabilities, although this is less common.

What is Web Design?

Web Designer

Web design is the process of creating visuals and aesthetics for websites. This includes choosing colors, fonts, layouts, images, buttons, menus — essentially anything related to the visual elements of a website.

Related reading: What Does a Web Designer Do?

Good graphic design should make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for and quickly understand why your site matters to them. Web designers are responsible for creating beautiful sites that are user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

There are a few types of design or roles that each have their own unique responsibilities.

UI Design

User interface (UI) design involves creating the layout of a website and its navigation. This includes designing how users interact with elements on your site, like buttons or menus, as well as the overall look and feel.

UX Design

User experience (UX) design focuses on the user’s journey through a website — how they explore it, what problems they encounter, and how easy or difficult it is to use.

Visual Design

Visual design involves creating cohesive visuals that reflect your brand identity. This could include choosing colors, typefaces, imagery, illustrations — anything related to visual presentation.

What is Web Development?

Web Developer

Web development is the process of building functional websites. Developers are responsible for the coding, or programming, of a website.

Typically, the designer’s prototype or mockup will be passed on to the developer, who then has the responsibility of turning it into a functional website or application.

Depending on the project and the client’s needs, this could include custom coding, setting up databases, or integrating existing software or services.

There are a few types of development roles that differ from each other.

Front-End Development

Front-end developers code the part of web pages you see and interact with in your browser — like menus, buttons, forms, and other interactive elements. They use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build user visuals and interactions.

Back-End Development

Back-end developers focus on creating logic behind all the features of a website or application. This includes handling data requests from customers’ browsers to fetch information from a database, connecting different systems together (like payment gateways), and creating APIs.

Full-Stack Development

Full-stack developers are responsible for both front-end and back-end development. They have experience in a wide range of programming languages and technologies, which makes them better suited to developing complex applications.

The Primary Differences Between Web Design and Web Development

You can use these differences to help determine whether you need the services of a designer, a developer, or both.

Web Designers Typically Don’t Code

Web designers primarily work on the visual side of things, while developers code. Designers will create a user-friendly, visually pleasing website that follows best practices. Developers then build the functionality and make it work on the internet.

Some website designers can indeed code HTML and CSS, but typically, that’s not their primary role.

Web Developers Don’t Create Visual Designs

Web developers don’t create visuals like logos and icons. Instead, they focus on coding websites that are functional and secure. They’ll code and style the pages to look the way a designer has created them.

Designers are More Creative, and Developers are More Technical

While it’s a generalization, designers tend to be more creative, right-brained people. Developers tend to be more technical, left-brained people. Of course, some people are skilled in both design and development, but this is not usually the case.

Developers Generally Cost More Than Designers

This is another generalization, and it depends on who you hire, but developers are often more expensive than designers. This is primarily because they have more technical knowledge, and fewer people possess the necessary skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is web design the same as web development?

No, web design and web development are two separate processes. Web designers create the visuals for websites, while developers code and build the functional website or application.

Does web design require coding?

No, website design does not typically require coding. However, many visual designers have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS.

Can a web designer also be a web developer?

Yes, it’s possible to do both. However, most designers focus on creating visuals and don’t have the technical coding knowledge developers typically possess. They are two different skill sets.

Who earns more, a web designer or a web developer?

This depends on their experience and the type of project they’re working on. Generally speaking, developers usually earn more than designers because fewer people possess the necessary coding skills.

Final Thoughts on Web Design vs. Web Development

Web designers and web developers have two distinct roles with unique skill sets overlapping in some areas. If you need help building a website or application, it’s essential to know what services you need before hiring someone — either a designer or a developer (or both).

A good designer should be able to create visuals that reflect your brand identity while also understanding basic UX principles. A good developer should understand how to code different features on the site and know databases, APIs, and other web technologies. The right combination of both talents can bring your website to life and make it function properly.

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