Skip to main content

What’s the diff? Web design versus web development

Article content:

In a world of smartphones and screens, smart web design is a must-have. In the early days of the web, the line between design and development was very clear. 

However, in our fast-paced, app-loving world, the line between web design and web development is blurred. 

Although most people use the terms interchangeably, web design and web development couldn’t be more different in practice. 

Why semantics matter

Brands search for both web development and web design when they want a website. The two terms are used to acknowledge the same need: you need a website. 

Although most web designers and developers usually have the tools to serve your needs, semantics matter. 

Why? Because web design and web development are actually two different practices. You need to understand the differences so you can better evaluate the skill set of any web design company you hire. 

Web design versus web development

Understand the differences between web design and web development. It could mean the difference between creating an awesome website and wasting your money. Ouch!

Check out the main features of web design and web development, and how the two differ. This knowledge will help you find the right vendor for your needs, no matter your industry. 

Web design

Today, the term “web designer” is a catch-all for someone who works on the web. But a web designer is much more than that!

Web design focuses on your site’s visual presentation and usability. Web designers choose your layout, colors, navigation, and more. 

But web design is concerned with way more than pretty colors and fonts; it focuses on function, too. UX, or user experience, is a key component of web design. A web designer looks at how your users will interact with the site. 

Web design focuses on proportion, color, emphasis, and consistency. It’s concerned primarily with the user experience. 

Basically, if your user sees it on the site, a web designer created it. 

A web designer might mock up your site in Photoshop or with wireframes. They don’t always code your mockup into an actual website.

This is something a designer passes on to a developer. Although a designer gets your layout off the ground, the web developer brings your layout to life on the web. 

Web development

Web developers take a web designer’s mockups and put them on the web. Also known as programmers or coders, web developers specialize in programming languages.

Web development uses HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, and more to transform a flat image file into a beautiful website.

There are actually two types of web development. 

  • Front-end: Developers build the client-facing portion of the site with code. They typically work in HTML and CSS to adjust visual elements on the site. You’ll work with a front-end developer for most website projects. 
  • Back-end: If you need complex or advanced functionality on your site, you’ll work with a back-end developer. These folks handle everything from databases, servers, and APIs. Back-end developers can create new functionality from scratch with code. 

The new frontier of web design

Put simply, web development is all about the code that makes a website run. If you think of your website as a car, web design is the paint job and interior, while web development is the engine. 

Normally you would expect designers to design and developers to program. But the function of today’s web design company is much different. 

Most designers also know how to code. Or, if they don’t know how to code, they work alongside programmers who can turn the design into a live site. 

Most web design companies offer hybrid design-development services for this very reason. And that’s great news for you! Seek out a reputable, experienced web design company. Just make sure they know how to code your site, too. 

The bottom line

Today’s web design is more holistic than web design of 2002. Brands have a plethora of options to find the right web design company for their needs. Web design helps you not only handle the design and technical aspects of your site but also to build your brand identity online. 

Ready to grow your site? Chat with Hype for your next web design project.