Web Design vs. Development: What They Are and How They Differ


Are you unclear about web design vs. development? If you’re struggling with your website, this is the first place to start…

It's irrefutable—websites are the number 1 tool for business lead generation and conversion, and your business can’t survive the digital age without one. Furthermore, people are spending more time online, and it's your duty to ensure that your online presence is solid. You just have to figure out one thing… 

Do you need website design or website development?

Both terms may seem like they mean the same thing, but they couldn't be more different. Whether you're creating a new website for your business or redesigning your current one, you need to understand the differences between the two so that you can effectively satisfy your business needs.

Here's an overview of web design vs. development, highlighting the differences and how you can determine which one your business really needs.

What Is Web Design?

Web design is all about what a user sees when they visit your website. It mainly focuses on your site's usability and aesthetics. In addition, it is one of the crucial building blocks of your site's development. Think of it as your website's exterior shell that covers aspects such as color schemes, typography, images, layout, etc. 

Consider this… You have approximately 10 seconds to impress your website visitors and 59% of them prefer a beautifully designed site.

That being said, when it comes to web design vs. development, the former should be the first step of building a website because it gives you a clear picture of what your website will look like when it's running and provides you with a chance to change the aspects that you don't like before you go to the development phase. 

Web designers don't really build your website; they just use programs to give you a prototype of all the pages. 

Some of the tools and skills that differentiate a web designer from a web developer include…

What Is Web Development?

A male website developer working with different programs in an office.

Web development, on the other hand, can be thought of as the construction phase. Whereas a web designer's job is to create a depiction of the website, the developer's job is to bring that design to life by building it into a fully functional site.

For example, if the design has 4 calls to action on the home page, the web developer has to hard code these elements so that when a user clicks on the buttons, they perform the intended action. 

The developers also create all the code that ensures all the links, navigation bars, videos, forms, and buttons work on your site. 

There are 3 types of web developers.

Front-end developers mainly focus on coding your website's visual aspects like headings, font, text layout, etc. Their main tools of the trade are JavaScript, CMS, and HTML, which they use to convert the designer's prototype into the visual interface that your customers see. 

Back-end developers focus on your website's functionality and databases. They ensure that all website assets and information are safely stored and are responsible for creating the code that makes the website responsive. 

Full-stack developers are like unicorns in the web development world: They are a hybrid of designers and developers and can carry your project from the conceptual stage to the development stage. 

Web Design vs. Development: Which One Does Your Business Need?

Website designer and developer reviewing and deciding on a website’s design choice as concept for web design vs. development.

If your business doesn’t have a suitable website in place, there are two ways you can approach this problem: build a new website or update your existing one. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into these solutions and explain when you need design help vs. development help…

1) Building a New Website

You will need a web designer in the following situations:

You should hire a web developer in these situations:

2) Updating an Existing Site

Having a website is no longer enough; you need to update it often because a site's life span ranges between 3 to 5 years. If you're redesigning an existing site, you'll need a web designer in these circumstances:

Furthermore, you should hire a web developer under these circumstances:

Here's the truth: You will need both experts to create a user-centric website that converts. Web designers and web developers complement each other, and you need them both to build a website that looks good and fulfills the functional requirements.

Assuming you have a website that works great but your customers find it hard to use, you'll end up missing out on sales. On the other hand, if your website looks great but has broken links, loads slowly, or isn't mobile friendly, you will lose customers to your competitors. You need to eliminate the disconnect between your site's design and its usability by hiring both experts. 

You can hire a full-stack developer, but for large projects, you will need professionals whose roles are clearly defined.

It's Time to Create a Great Website!

There are billions of websites on the internet. So, what will make your customers choose to interact with yours? It's all about how your website looks and functions! You can’t afford to prioritize the design at the expense of the code, which is why, ultimately, businesses that are looking to update their website need both web designers and web developers to ensure the finished product not only looks good but also works well. 

Concerned that your website isn’t yielding results? Request a FREE audit so we can help you identify where the problem lies!


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Filed Under: Tools & Technology

About Marisa Fritzemeier

Marisa’s extensive digital marketing training coupled with her experience as a graphic and web designer sets her apart as a marketing expert. Her long-held belief that data-based strategic planning should always inform the design brief has allowed her to serve and grow businesses of all sizes.
Marisa’s key responsibility at Viral Solutions is managing brand development and messaging. She is passionate about creating strong brand personalities that are consistent across all platforms and meet the growing needs of clients and their respective audiences.
Marisa has sought out extensive training both as a designer and as a marketing expert. Her greatest joy is developing data-based UX designs that enhance the customer journey while building a long-term brand identity that lasts. Her design training includes Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, while her digital marketing training includes Ecommerce Marketing, Customer Acquisition, Optimization a Testing, Search Marketing Mastery, Content Marketing, Analytics and Data, Customer Value Optimization, Email Marketing, and Story Brand Messaging. She is trained in UX & UI web design and works exclusively in Sketch App.
When she’s not working, Marisa enjoys teaching art to small groups, cooking, and traveling with friends and family.