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Web Design and Web Development: 5 Main Distinctions

Despite the fact that both kinds of web services require vastly different skill sets, web design and web development are frequently used as interchangeable terms. They are vital to the success of a business in terms of digital appearance, but web design and development have different concerns and objectives, as well as functions within the process.

Table of Contents

Definitions of Web Design and Web Development

A good method to illustrate the difference between web development vs. web design is to utilize something we’re all familiar with. So, picture a web developer and a web designer working together to create a website.

What is Web Design

Web Design refers to the design, appearance or layout of a website. Rather than software development, it generally relates to the user experience components of website creation. 

User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and even Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are terms that are related to web design. Overall, web design considers the usability of a website or an app, including its structure, visual aesthetics (e.g., colors and fonts), and in some cases, content. 

Web design experts are in charge of creating digital experiences for the general public by employing HTML code to program websites and CSS to standardize their visual language. The goal is to provide a high-quality experience for the audience while also assisting the company in meeting its objectives.

What is Web Development

Web Development refers to the process of creating and/ or developing a website or an app for the internet or private networks. Web development processes can contain a variety of specializations, such as web server administration, web engineering, network security settings, and even web design. However, the word “web development” is commonly used to refer to coding or authoring markups and does not always involve design features.

From the very beginning, websites are built by web developers. Their tasks involve a great deal of technical knowledge and experience with advanced computer languages and complex coding methodologies. This involves coding and setting frontend, user-facing elements, as well as supporting backend servers and databases.

After a website goes online, developers execute post-launch testing and provide continuing support for the website. This covers both routine site maintenance and problem fixes that may have been neglected during the development phase.

5 Main Differences Between Web Design and Web Development

Web development and design comparison

Types of Web Designers and Developers

  • Web Developers: There are three main types of developers: back-end, front-end, and full-stack.
  1. Back-end developers are in charge of the server-side and communication between the database and the browser;
  2. Front-end developers are responsible for the client-side of software development, and focus on user’s thought of the product;
  3. Full-stack developers are developers who have both back-end as well as front-end abilities.
  • Web Designers: There are three main types of designing jobs
  1. UI Designers (or Visual Designer) focus more on design and less on implementation, with only light HTML and CSS knowledge. 
  2. UX Designers examine and investigate how users interact with a website, then introduce positive improvements into the system and assess the effects. The position may not require any design or implementation skills, but should be concerned with user experience. 
  3. Interaction Designers’ main task is design, which is similar to a UI Designer, but with a particular emphasis on movement and how objects are utilized.


Necessary Tools

  • Web Development: 

1. Advance HTML/CSS/JavaScript

Working on web development requires programming skills. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript are the primary languages required, with each performing a specific function.

HTML and CSS work together to control how items appear on web pages. When writing in HTML and CSS, a good web designer is able to precisely execute the desired design by employing the appropriate tags and values.

2. CSS preprocessors (i.e., LESS or Sass)

CSS preprocessor is a kind of scripting language, which allows programmers to create code in one language and compile it into CSS. Sass is now one of the most common preprocessors, others include Less and Stylus.

Sass is a CSS preprocessor that adds additional features like variables, nested rules, and mixins to standard CSS. The aim of using Sass is to make coding easier and more efficient.

3. Frameworks (i.e., AngularJS, ReactJS, Ember)

JavaScript frameworks such as Ember and AngularJS are both with the same aim of developing dynamic, and robust single-page applications (SPA). Both frameworks AngularJS and Ember provide benefits such as two-way data binding, modular code, MVC design, DOM manipulation, etc. 

4. Libraries (i.e., jQuery)

A JavaScript library, such as jQuery, is an open-source that makes it easier to create and navigate online applications. jQuery, in particular, simplifies HTML Document Object Model (DOM) manipulation, Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax). jQuery also combines JavaScript functionality by modifying CSS attributes to provide effects such as fade-ins and fade-outs for page components. 

5. Git and GitHub

When working on a new project, developers need a Version Control System (VCS) to track and manage changes to software code. Git and GitHub are among the most popular VCS tools and essential for every developer. 

By using the service to roll out your project, developers will be able to see any changes that have occurred and even go back to the previous state. The repository hosting service also includes a vibrant open-source development community, as well as issue tracking, feature requests, task management, and wikis for each project.

6. Basic PHP script or ASP script

PHP is a well-known open-source HTML-embedded server-side scripting language that allows web developers to easily construct dynamically produced web pages. PHP is ideal for a one-man project (or a two-man project with a marketer) where a technically savvy geek can quickly create a functioning prototype for a web app. 

7. Database like SQL

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a database query language designed specifically for use with relational databases. It’s used to manage and alter data in certain databases. While SQL will not be utilized to create the next major online application, it will be valuable for dealing with the database that will power it. Consider Twitter: the program would not exist without the user data, tweets, and follower-following associations that are maintained in a database.

  • Web Designers:

1. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD or other design software

Adobe XD was built from the bottom up with performance in mind, allowing designers to create prototypes that look and feel like the real thing. This tool allows you to effectively express your design vision and maintain team cohesion. Adobe XD is a powerful and simple-to-use vector-based experience design platform that provides teams with the tools they need to collaborate on creating the world’s finest experiences.

2. Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is an alternative tool for designing. Its functions include HTML editor, writing tool, and Web site administration. Dreamweaver is a sophisticated and user-friendly WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web page editor.

3. UX Design & UI Design 

Because web designers work with interfaces, they must be knowledgeable with UX/UI. 

UX design entails work relating to the user experience. It entails bringing everything together in terms of design to ensure that your target audience is content with whatever you are building, whether it is a website, an app, or anything else.

Work on user interfaces is referred to as UI design. Designers must be capable of building structures that are simple to understand so that customers can do whatever tasks they require when utilizing your product or service.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

A well-performed site design may help ensure that the website is properly indexed by search engines and that the business is visible to customers. As a result, designers who work in this industry must be familiar with SEO.

After all, most components on a website contribute to its ranking, which includes content, graphics, and code. This also necessitates the understanding of how content management systems function and may be improved.

Skill sets

5 main distinctions between web developer and designer

Web Developers

  • Knowledge of front-end coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript
  • Knowledge of backend coding languages such as PHP, Java, and Ruby
  • Analytical skills
  • Working knowledge of content management systems (CMS) and e-commerce platforms
  • Ability to communicate
  • Solving problems in a novel way
  • API knowledge is advantageous.
  • Management of a project
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Multitasking ability

Web Designers

  • Creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of design concepts
  • Graphic design and photo editing abilities, including logo design, layout/ format, placing call-to-action buttons, branding, wireframes, mock-ups, and/ or storyboards.
  • Customer service and communication
  • Experience with SEO Knowledge of multiple coding languages
  • Detailed-oriented
  • Interpersonal abilities
  • Knowledge of marketing and business strategy
  • Project administration


Web Developers

  • Maintain existing sites and apps on a daily basis
  • Communicate with clients, listen and understand their needs
  • Convert layouts into programs that are easy to use
  • Works with programming languages to generate a higher degree of interactions on a website, such as the integration with a database system (more likely to perform routine site maintenance as needed). 

Web Designers

  • Design and creation of relational database schemas
  • Create Web Layouts, visual design 
  • Be responsible for the prototyping design
  • Place and structure the layout of website pages
  • Be able to visualize how a site will look
  • Examine how a web page will function, convert a design into a working website
  • Provide a good impression look and feel design to customers
  • Work with back-end developers to ensure correct integration of web and app logic
  • Perform website tests, ensure that the website is friendly and can run stably on all devices (desktop, mobile, and tablet)
  • Collaborate with the marketing department and research teams to boost brand aspects and market research insights into the website


Web Developers

  • Web development or web programming certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree
  • Computer science associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree

Web Designers

  • Web design or interactive design certificate or associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree
  • More advanced positions may require specific certificates.
Differences between tools that are used in web development and design

When should you hire a web designer instead of a web developer?

When it comes to constructing your website, having both a web developer and a web designer on your team may be really beneficial. However, you don’t have to hire both in order to build a great website.

You may simply need to employ a web designer to personalize your site, depending on your aims and vision. For example, if you simply need a simple website built, you may only need to engage a designer to evaluate its usability and offer comments on the layout and design. However, if you want to create a more complicated website with advanced features, you’ll almost certainly require a web developer. 

Therefore, you might choose to employ a web designer if you have a do-it-yourself approach and want some help making your site look and feel excellent. If you have a complex design that will take a lot of time and effort to complete, you’ll probably want to employ a developer to oversee the development of your site. In certain circumstances, you’ll want to do both to ensure that your site looks fantastic, functions well, and is done on schedule.

Both positions are critical to site development, and each may help your site stand out in unique ways. Consider what you want to do with your site as well as the information above while looking for the ideal individual for your company. In this case, you may also need to think of how to choose the best web design or web development company for your business.

Wrapping up

For businesses that wish to establish and maintain a favorable online presence, both web design and development are indeed essential. These two positions are closely related and may be filled by the same developer in some situations. Web design and development, however, each require distinct sets of roles, techniques and skills within the process. Knowing the differences between the two terms will be of help in deciding what services are necessary for a business.

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