Web Development vs Design: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to making a fabulous website that’s going to launch your business and build an audience, you’re going to need the help of a few professionals: namely a web designer and a web developer.

Before you jump the gun and assume that these two positions are the same role, they’re not. These two very different web design roles deliver contrasting services and results, and although they are instinctively linked together during the development process, they do very different things for your website.

Designers drawing website ux app development.

So in today’s blog post, we take a deep dive into the differences between a web developer and a web designer, so you know what to expect in future.

Everything You Need To Know About Web Development

Do you wonder how your website functions so smoothly or how it loads up quickly with minimal problems? What about when something seems ‘broken’ but then suddenly works as expected? What about submitting details or making purchases? All this works thanks to a web developer.

Let’s take a step back and look at what web development revolves around. In basic terms, it’s about the coding that builds, operates and maintains the functionality of a website. All those codes that you see in images, TV and movies, that’s the code responsible for how a website displays its images, designs, and, crucially, how it interacts with the audience.

A web developer’s primary responsibility is to build and maintain the foundational coding of a website. It involves complex technical coding, configuring the server and databases and advanced programming languages, ensuring that it connects to a web designer’s concepts, bringing the website to life. They also offer support and maintenance post-website launch to ensure the website works properly, including fixing server or hosting issues and dealing with viruses and hacks.

A web designer’s work can be split into two categories: front-end and back-end. The former refers to how the website will display information and how the website will look (see the connection with the web designer?). The latter refers to the data within the website that ensures it functions correctly. Many developers can work as both front-end and back-end programmers, although some tend to focus on one more than the other.

Regardless, developers have to be skilled in coding systems, such as HTML, CSS (LESS or Sass), JavaScript, and many CMS, such as WordPress, Wix and Squarespace. They also have to be knowledgeable in design elements as they have to ensure design concepts are displayed and working correctly on the front-end of the website. They also have to be skilled in testing and debugging, and search engine optimization (SEO). As such, in many cases, developers share plenty of skills with web designers.

Everything You Need To Know About Web Design

Do you notice the layout, colour scheme and information on a website? What about the interactivity that stems from hovering the mouse over specific sections? Does the engagement of a website capture you? If so, this is all of the work of a webs designer.

Web design encompasses everything involved with the visual aesthetics and user experience (UX) of a website. It can include, as we mentioned above, the layout, structure and information flow of the website, but it can also have other highly important factors:

  • Branding promotion and imagery
  • Colour palettes and styles
  • Fonts and typography
  • Placing call-to-action buttons and conversion elements to engage audiences
  • Constructing websites to work across various platforms, such as mobile phones or tablets

Therefore, in essence, a web designer’s job is to construct a website that is visually appealing to audiences and user-friendly to encourage them to stay on the site for as long as possible, so they take action on the site (such as make a booking, buy a product, sign up for a newsletter and so forth).

To achieve this, the web designer must be highly skilled in various website creation tools and systems, such as Elementor, Wix, WordPress and Squarespace. On top of that, they must utilize their graphic design skills through the likes of Adobe Creative Suite (including Photoshop and Illustrator). They can also assist with graphic and logo design, wireframes and mock-ups and branding that is not part of the website design.

While they might focus on what occurs “on-page”, web designers also have to be skilled in many web development aspects, including coding. Web designers have to be familiar with widgets, plugins, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as it impacts their designs.

A Quick Overview

To summarize the difference between the two primary roles:

  • Web developers build a website’s core coding foundation allows it to operate efficiently and functionally. They also help with testing and debugging, hosting issues and databases. Crucially, they work with web designers to bring their concepts to life on the website.
  • Web designers focus on the website’s visual elements, including the branding, information flow, colour scheme, and layout. They make the website as interactive as possible to ensure that audiences engage and stay on as long as possible. They might have some development skills as part of their role as well.

However, ideally, it’s best to find a web design agency that offers you a team of professionals instead of placing all the design and development responsibilities onto one person.