Web Design vs. Web Development

Making the web work for you

Web Design vs. Web Development

Exasperated red robot

What’s the difference?

If you’ve been reading up on hiring someone to create your site you will no doubt have seen companies and individuals describing themselves as web developers and web designers seemingly interchangeably. This can make it confusing to know what skill set you should be looking for. While many companies, including this one, can offer both the two refer to distinct skills and without knowing what they are it’s hard to know if you need both. So what is the difference between web design and a web development? Read on for a list of what each can do for you

Web Design

When you started your business you will (hopefully) have first come up with a plan. Most businesses don’t get far without some idea of who their customers are, what their product offering is and how they will communicate clearly with potential customers. It’s the same with web design. A good designer lays the foundation for a successful site by understanding what a site needs to achieve and producing a design to match. To do this they will consider:

  • The needs of site users
  • Content and functionality
  • Visual appeal – page layout, colour, imagery etc
  • Usability – how easy it is to get around the site
  • Consistency

Web Development

If we think of a web designer as producing a blueprint for a website then a developer is the engineer that brings it to life. A developer will take a design and turn it into code in order to create a functioning website.

Developers can be further broken down into two groups: front-end developers and back-end developers. Front-end developers work in 3 main languages: HTML, CSS and Javascript to build websites. They may also use CMS (content managements systems) such as WordPress which offer an interface for clients to update sites themselves. For most sites this will be everything that is needed to create their website and all it’s functionality

Back-end developers come in when more complex site functionality is needed. They use languages such as PHP or MySQL to programme advanced functionality such as interacting with databases. If you are looking to provide information about and content from your business online or sell your products online it’s unlikely that you need a specialised back-end developer.

So which do I need?

As you’ve hopefully started to realise from the above the two disciplines are heavily interdependent. It wouldn’t make any sense to design a beautiful website where none of the links worked or conversely to build amazing functionality into your site but with a layout that was so confusing no-one could use it.

Given this for many sites a professional versed in both web design and web development will be the best option. If this sounds like the right fit for your needs please get in touch, I’d love to discuss this with you further.

Unless you need complex or bespoke functionality you are unlikely to need a back-end developer. If you think you might need this I would strongly recommend discussing it with your designer/developer first. Specialist developers can be expensive and they may be able to suggest an alternative solution. Regardless the two will need to work together to produce your website so it’s best to have all parties involved from the start.