What is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

The difference between web design and web development has become blurred. This confusion may cause problems for a web design company and its clients. Web design has become a generic term that encompasses design and development.

It is important for companies to make their clients aware that a successful website requires excellent design and development. Equally, clients should be prepared to make the effort to understand the difference. This understanding makes the specification and approval process more straightforward.

Web Design

Web design determines the look and feel of a website. It covers the layout, navigation and colors of a website. It may also include graphic and logo design. Web design is more concerned with aesthetics and user experience than functions.  A web designer will make a website easy to use and fit for purpose.

Web Development

In contrast, web development provides the functions and features of a website. It is about the back end programming and not the face of a website. Functions covered by web development include registration, content management systems, e-commerce and any database applications. Web development enables visitors to carry out actions on a website.

Web Design Skills

A good web designer will have graphic design skills and a good understanding of marketing. He or she will know how to grab the attention of visitors and encourage them to explore a website.

Web Development Skills

A good web developer will have excellent programming skills and be able to use a range of programming tools. He or she will be able to provide solutions to give a website the functions required.

There will be some overlap of skills between web designers and web developers. It is unusual for one person to be both an excellent designer and developer.

Web Design Tools

Web designers use software such as Photoshop, Flash and Fireworks. They will also have a good working knowledge of typography, color theory and web accessibility.

Web Development Tools

Web developers will use a range of programming tools such as ASP, Javascript, XML and SQL. These are just some of the more well-known tools. There are many others and new tools are being developed all the time. For example, mobile apps have created a huge demand for developers with the relevant knowledge.

Overlapping Tools

Most designers and developers will be familiar with HTML and CSS.

Web Design, Web Development and WordPress

The development of WordPress provides an interesting example of the difference between web design and web development. The web design of a WordPress site is determined by selecting a theme. The theme includes the use of colors, columns, fonts, navigation and titles.

After selecting a WordPress theme, you may add functionality to your website by using widgets and selecting plug-ins. These functions equate to web development.

Many people with no web design and development skills have created reasonable websites. However, experienced web designers and developers can create great websites. Such websites will have unique designs, functions and features.

Which is More Important?

Research has shown that visitors judge a website in just a few seconds. Therefore, good website design is required to make the website attractive and easy to use. Good website development is required to give the website interesting features and functions. Ideally, web designers and web developers should work together to retain visitors and encourage return visits. Design and development are equally important.

In conclusion, both web design and web development are essential to produce an effective website. Web design should be integrated with web development. This approach gives the best chance of creating an outstanding website.

Your turn now.

Which is more important to you: web design or web development?

Amanda Chandler
With CMS like wordpress, it is making it easier for people to get a good looking website that has a lot of the same functions of a HTML.
Sandesh Damkondwar
I have experience in both , But can't exactly say who scores well.
Shanin Maxwell
Thanks for this post. I always wonder why my web designer is not able to carry out any backend changes and require outsource technical support. Now I know, her background and skill set is without much of technical knowledge, which clearly can be answered if we have a web developer
Mary Jane Garingan
thanks for this, now I knew were to fits in.
Seems like u actually understand a lot with regards to this specific subject and it all shows throughout this particular article, termed “What is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development? | Pixel 77”. Thx ,Ulrike
Great post Alex! I like the visuals you use to help explain the difference between a designer and developer. I wrote a post that helps explain this as well: http://matchist.com/blog/whats-the-difference-between-a-designer-and-developer Do you find that people confuse these two roles often?
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