What’s the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

What’s the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

Do you know what is the difference between a web developer and a web designer? The answer was very simple in the early days – developers develop codes and designers design.  Today the question needs a little more upgradation. You will hardly find a web designer who doesn’t have the least knowledge of HTML and CSS and a front-end web developer who can’t whip up a storyboard.

If you are specifying about the general concept of web development vs. web design, the distinction is a little clearer. Let’s have a look at these two concepts and the crucial roles they perform in building the apps and websites we know and cherish.

What is Web Design?

Web design includes everything that involves visual aesthetics and usability of a website. It governs layout, color scheme, information flow and anything related to the visual aspects of the user interface and user experience (UI/UX). Some common tools and skills that differentiate web designers from the web developers are:

  • Graphic design
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop) or other design software
  • Layout/Format
  • Logo design
  • Placing call-to-action buttons
  • Wireframes, mock-ups, and storyboards
  • Branding
  • Typography
  • Color palettes

Web designers bring the digital experience to life with the use of images, color, typography, and layout. It is more concerned with what the users actually see on their mobile devices or computer screen, and less about the mechanisms beneath the background that make it all work. Many designers are familiar with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS –  it helps in living mock-ups of a web app while approaching for a pitch to the team or fine tune the UI/UX design of an app. Web designers also work with templating services like Joomla or WordPress which allow then to create websites utilizing widgets and themes without writing a single line of code.

What is Web Development?

Web development takes care of all the codes that make a website work. However, web development divided into two categories – front-end and back-end. The client-side or front-end of an application is the code answerable for the display of mocked up design by the web designer. The server-side or back-end is responsible for managing data and serving the data to the front-end to be displayed. Some common skills and tools to the front-end developers are listed below:

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

  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript
  • Libraries (i.e., jQuery)
  • Frameworks (i.e., AngularJS, ReactJS, Ember)
  • Git and GitHub

Designers usually create mock-ups, pick the color or select typography and the web developer’s job is to bring those mock-ups to life. So, understanding the requirements of the designers, the developers need to have some knowledge in UI/UX design.

The Unicorn: Hybrid Developer + Designer

According to the present industry trends, a web designer is required to have more skill set than just basic knowledge of design tools. The hybrids incline to raise more interest than the specialists. Developers or designers who have a good knowledge of both sides are highly sought after in the industry. The “Unicorn” can lead your assignment from the conceptual stage that contains visual mock-ups, storyboards and transmits it through front-end development all by themselves. Generally, depend on the “unicorn” for small projects where one or two people can handle both the back and front-ends of your application. For a larger project, two or more “unicorns” do manage efficiently, but more defined roles are required.


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