What is the Difference between Web Design and Web Development?

Many people, especially those new to IT, confuse web design and web development, or use these two terms interchangeably. In fact, there is a distinct line between them. Different competencies and skills are required of web designers and developers. They apply different tools and are responsible for different stages of the website assembly  process.

If you want to choose a direction for building your IT career or hire a team to tailor a beautiful and responsive online platform for your business, this article will answer your questions about the two interconnected digital crafts. 

Web Design

Web design is similar in some ways to interior design. Before getting started, the designer visualizes the end result, to make sure that finishing, lights, and furniture all work well together, and fix drawbacks early on, before money is spent on materials. In the same way, a web designer projects the look and feel of a website, drafting its surface level. Their task is to ensure that the resulting combination of structural elements, colors, fonts, visual content, and features provides upscale user experience.

Customer’s aesthetics and functionality specifications are adhered to when developing a basic layout. A digital artist brings the concept’s written instructions to life. This is a very important stage, since it predetermines client satisfaction upon the completion of the entire project.

Business owners who turn to IT companies for branded websites are unlikely to check the codebase written by programmers. But they are sure to notice if the design deviates from the initial concept discussed during the consultation. The first impression on visitors also depends on the website’s appearance. If the platform is not visually appealing, prospective clients will quickly leave without even experiencing the functionality implemented by web developers, resulting in a loss of business. 

Web designers are considered just as valuable as programmers in the IT workforce market. Even though design is a more tangible aspect of web design to non-IT individuals, it is not easy to become a first-rate designer. 

web design development

Designers need to:

  • have good graphic design skills and use the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and other professional tools
  • monitor design changes on websites of large companies to keep up with trends
  • look at a website from the viewpoints of both artist and visitor, harmoniously combining aesthetic and functional aspects, to ensure a straightforward and exciting user journey
  • create original interfaces while placing common elements in familiar areas so that users do not feel confused with unusual layout patterns, and can enjoy seamless navigation
  • use branding elements to express the personality of each business via its online platform
  • select appealing color palettes
  • preserve a balance between vivid and pale, dark and light colors, large and small elements, smooth and ornamented textures, stoic and playful fonts
  • ensure the unity of elements within each functional group
  • orient all design components to the website’s purpose, to make it not only beautiful but also commercially viable
  • emphasize important elements, using contrasting textures, font sizes, and shapes, to drive desired user behavior
  • turn a rough draft based on client requirements into a detailed website copy that accurately reflects the pixel-perfect location and appearance of all elements

Web Development

After a web designer visualizes the website’s appearance and features, web developers use special tools and programming languages to turn it into a functional entity.

There are two levels of web development:

  1. Front-end is the link between design and back-end. At this level, the client interface is implemented and prepared for connection with a server side. Programmers use HTML to assemble a basic layout, CSS – to assign certain styles to text, images, buttons, different areas like sidebar, footer, header, etc., and JavaScript – to make the platform responsive, ensure its ability to collect information and display the data extracted from the server in a user-friendly form.
  2. Back-end encompasses processes invisible to users. Programmers ensure fast and accurate transfer of requests and server data. Only information websites that provide static content and do not need to react to users’ actions can work without back-end. If you want visitors to register accounts, make online payments, post comments, or perform other target actions on your platform, it is critical to ensure prompt and uninterrupted server response. Also, you need to save the data shared by users in a database, to use it later or provide back to the front-end as requested. Back-end developers fine-tune databases and internal processes using back-end languages like PHP, ASP.NET, SQL, and MySQL.

web design and development

The web development process can be greatly simplified and accelerated by the use of auxiliary frameworks, libraries, and integrated development environments. Check out our article on the best IDEs for web development. Some options would be helpful for both front-end and back-end assembly. Also, it is recommended to use versioning tools that allow you to return to the website’s earlier versions if something goes wrong with the current one.

Full-Stack Development

Full-stack developers can build both the visible and invisible parts of a website, and they usually have a good understanding of web design and user experience. They are highly valued in the IT workforce market for their diverse knowledge and skills, and the ability to sync client-side and server-side processes.

It is challenging to become a universal specialist if you are just starting your IT journey. In fact, it is challenging to get in-depth knowledge and experience with at least one programming language. Instead of trying to embrace the immensity of web development, it is easier and more effective to focus on a single technology. Once you feel confident using it, start to gradually expand your toolkit.

Also remember that your educational journey does not end after you learn all the pivotal front-end and back-end principles. IT is a rapidly developing field. To preserve a competitive edge, you need to quickly adopt emerging technologies, keep up with niche trends and envision the future of web development.

Final Thoughts

Now you understand how web design differs from web development. Both crafts are equally important and complement each other. Without either one, online businesses would fail to provide upscale user experience to their clients.

As a beginner IT specialist, you should choose between design or development as your career focus. After mastering your chosen direction in-depth, you can explore other options and expand your expertise to add stars to your resume.

If you are a business owner who wants to launch an appealing and smoothly running online platform from scratch, you need to hire a web designer and a team of web developers, or a full-stack developer. The experienced professionals at Clever Solution provide full-cycle services for website development. Share your design and functionality requirements with us, and our designers and programmers will bring them to life.