Website Design vs Website Development

Cog Wheels

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Post date: 16.1.2018

Category: Freelance Blog

It is often very easy to confuse the term web design with web development. People make this mistake all the time. As a web designer, it is easy for people to approach you with a job they originally thought was a new web design when actually it turns out what they needed was a developer.
These mistakes are very common, especially amongst newbies. As someone with a lot of experience on the job, I have decided to put this together with the hope that it will help resolve all your misconceptions on the subject matter. This piece has been carefully put together, elaborately discussing what each role entails, how they are alike and how they differ.

What is Web Design?

Website design deals with the appearance of a website. It focuses on the public portions of a website: Pages that are life and are accessible to all visitors and customers. This incorporates aspects such as the appearance of the site, how it functions and an in-depth understanding of what customers want. In essence, web design focusses primarily not so much on how to build the website, but rather what it should look like and contain.
Another very crucial part of web design is usability. This is brought about by different design programs such as Adobe Photoshop to create user friendly layouts and other visual elements which will be an integral feature of the site.
A web designer begins his job, firstly putting into consideration the website objectives of the client in question, and carefully moves to the business of the design architecture. After this is done, the web designer goes ahead to create wireframes which eventually leads up to the design stage.
Excellent user experience and aesthetically pleasing layouts can be achieved by web designers using several base design principles as is written below:

  • Unity: The relationship between various parts of a website layout and its composition as a whole are all enshrined in this principle. This is based on how information is organized by the human brain. An example includes a grouping of elements into categories.
  • Consistency: If an excellent user friendly experience is required, then this is your best bet. It takes care of the outlook of the site and ensures uniformity throughout the entire page.
  • Contrast: This has to do with the use of colours to draw attention to certain sections of the website. Care is taken such that this principle is not overused.
  • Balance: A balanced layout is of utmost importance in web design. It requires a great deal of experience with regards to the use of large and dark colours or small and lighter colours. A balanced website is achieved when the correct proportion of both is used.
  • Emphasis: This principle is also used to attract the user’s attention towards important sections of the website. It is very important to use this principle wisely and moderately in order to avoid over-emphasizing sections of the web page.

Bearing in mind that the design world moves very rapidly, with new tools coming out every now and then. It becomes very necessary for designers to stay ahead of the game. And this requires an ear to the ground at all times.


Web Development

On the other hand, web development refers to the actual task of writing the codes and scripts that brings a website design to digital life. It takes the already created designs and turns them into functional websites. In other words, after a design has been made, developers then use HTML or other dynamic programming languages including but not limited to PHP, CSS and (CMS) like Joomla or WordPress in order to fast-track development of the site and allow for easy access for clients in an event where maintenance or update of the site is required.
Web development requires an understanding of the programming language and logic to create clean, problem-solving codes which will do exactly what clients need them to do. In general, the core concern of a web developer is functionality and not appearance as is the case with web design.
Web developers could be the front end, back end or full stack developers.
The front end developers deal basically with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. While back end developers work with typical programming languages and frameworks like Ruby on Rails or Python and Django. They possess a full understanding of databases like MySQL.
The third type of website developer is both familiar with the front and back end programming language.
To draw a clear understanding between web design and web development, one could imagine web design to be purely artistic in nature. This is not unconnected to the fact that it creates virtually appealing designs that can be appreciated by clients, while the web development aspect could be considered to be purely logical. This goes from developing simple pages of plain text to complex web-based applications, social network services and many more.

Similarities Between Web Design and Web Development

Both web design and web development have been found to require some knowledge of programming. Although programmers are the ones who rely on programming languages the most, and some designers may not even need to write a single line of codes. They both are similar in the sense that they have one common goal in mind; customer or end user interaction.
While the designer is more concerned about how the end user will find the process of site navigation, the developer has his hands full trying to figure out how the customer will get things done. These two in the end, make the internet more exciting.
In conclusion, the question as to the roles of both web design and web development freelancers have become blurred. Thanks to the ever evolving web landscape, web developers now strive to understand web design concepts and vice versa. The core duties of both skills remain relevant in companies worldwide.
Since the website has become the central hub for almost every business effort worldwide, it provides an opportunity to tell your story to your target audience irrespective of distance or their location from your business. Thus, the looks and feel of your website may either cause a buyer to take action or leave your site and never visit again. It is against this backdrop that concerted efforts needed to be made towards designing and developing that website that will be both responsive, persuasive and appealing so as to turn visitors to repeat customers and drive that steady stream of eager customers/buyers your way.