Web Design Vs. Web Development: What Are The Differences?

Updated 2 February 2023

To create a website, a company may require the service of designers, programmers, content writers and testers. You can create a website by combining the disciplines web design and web development. If you are creating a new website or pursuing a career in any of these domains, it may be beneficial to compare web design vs. web development and understand what each discipline encompasses. In this article, we examine the features of web design and web development, and the fundamental differences between the two disciplines.

Related: Difference Between A Web Application And A Website

Web Design Vs. Web Development

Comparing web design vs. web development is beneficial if you intend to pursue a career in either of these fields. Web design is the field of work that lies behind creating the visual appearance of a website, but it is not limited to creating visual appeal. It also focuses on creating a functional website that gives users an optimal browsing experience. Web designers are professionals who design the website and then hand it over to web developers for building. Web designers may use specific design software, such as Figma.

Web development is the process where developers write code to implement the designs provided by web designers. They use programming languages like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Python and Ruby on Rails. Web development consists of three main types of development processes. Front-end development is the work done to make a website functional for the user. Back-end development is the process that takes care of a website's server-side processes like security and web hosting. Full-stack development refers to the process in which developers take care of both front-end and back-end development.

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Fundamental Concepts In Web Design And Web Development

To be successful in web design and development, you can try to learn the best practices in each field. Design and development are closely related disciplines and their individual processes and development phases follow distinct principles.

Some fundamentals of web design are:

  • Layout: The layout of a website is the most vital component in a design for building an efficient and resourceful website.

  • Colour scheme: Colour schemes are important in web design as they can be used to communicate an organisation's brand and message effectively.

  • Hierarchy: Visual hierarchy attracts a viewer's attention to the full composition and then to the components of a website.

  • Contrast: Contrast helps to highlight the hierarchy and other important components of a website.

  • Typography: Intelligent use of typography and text alignment make content attractive, improve readability and helps maintain consistency throughout the website.

Some fundamentals of web development are:

  • Structure and hierarchy: Developers create the structure and hierarchy based on the design, with the home page at the top and other landing pages under it.

  • Responsiveness: A responsive website is one where the appearance and interface of a website changes based on the device used.

  • Hosting and file transfer protocol: Developers host a website either using the infrastructure available to them or through a client's hosting account server.

  • Security: Developers can follow relevant security protocols to prevent data leaks, privacy breaches and to prevent hacking.

Related: What Does A Web Developer Do? (Responsibilities And Salary)

Tools Required For Web Design And Web Development

Professionals in web design and web development use a wide variety of tools to perform their duties effectively. Some of them are:

Tools required for web design

Web designers operate on the website layout, colour schemes, information flow and other visual aspects of a website. Web design combines multiple design mechanisms to present an appealing website or an app to the end-user. A web designer may use the following skills and tools to create a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing website:

  • Visual design

  • Graphic design

  • UI design

  • UX design

  • Branding

  • Typography

  • Adobe Creative Suite

Related: 7 Website Design Software Tools (With Features And How To)

Tools required for web development

Web development is the process that transforms the mock-ups provided by a web designer into a fully functional website. Understanding the requirements of the designer and choosing the right technology is a key aspect of efficient web design. Web developers also stay updated on the best practices in UI/UX design to create a website that is usable on multiple platforms and through a variety of interfaces.

Web development has two classifications, namely front-end and back-end development. The code developed by programmers to implement the design follows a mock-up that they receive from a design team. Back-end development processes manage data and databases associated with a website.

Some commonly used tools and languages for web development are:

  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript

  • Frameworks like Ember, Angular JS and React JS

  • CSS preprocessors like LESS or SASS

  • Git and GitHub

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools

  • Server-side programming languages like PHP, Python, C# and Java

  • Server-side web development frameworks like .NET, Ruby on Rails and Symfony

  • Database management systems like MYSQL, PostgreSQL and MongoDB

  • Servers like Linux, Apache and Express

  • Restful APIs

  • Authentication and security frameworks like OAuth and PassportJS

Related: 12 Important Web Development Tools (With Examples)

Phases Of Web Design And Web Development

Web design and web development are two aspects of the process of building a website. Both consist of multiple phases of planning and implementation. The phases may involve consultation and coordination with professionals outside the domain of design and development. The crucial phases of web design and web development are as follows:

Phases of web design

The important phases of web design include:

  • Project definition: The management, web design and development team together create a project definition. The team defines the need for a website, its goals, message and also identifies competitors and audiences.

  • Project scope: The project scope plan lists out deliverables, timelines and sets client expectations. Stakeholders use a Gantt chart to create accountability between the web design team and the client.

  • Site architecture and wireframes: In this phase of the design, designers create a blueprint with a sitemap and wireframes of the web pages. Wireframes contain a detailed view of the planned content and the hierarchy for information in each page.

  • Visual design: Once the blueprint is approved, designers create a visual style in sync with the company's brand. The designers also ensure that the visual style matches other communication collaterals owned by the company.

  • Content creation: This phase includes planning, writing and editing content for landing pages, product descriptions, testimonials, case studies, blog posts, anchor text and videos. The design team and management may work with in-house content creators or hire professionals for this purpose.

Related: 35 Web Designer Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Phases of web development

Once the design and content are ready, web designers hand the materials and resources over to a web development team to build the website. Multiple meetings between management, content developers, web designers, web development team and clients happen before launching a website. The important phases of web development include:

  • Building the website: The web development team chooses the right technology and tools and starts creating the home page and shells of the interior pages. Once they create the shell, they work with the design team to add content and visuals as per the design.

  • Testing: Once they have added the visuals and content, the web developers test the website to check for broken links, speed, mobile responsiveness and compatibility with various browsers and search engines. After completion of automatic and manual testing, they coordinate with the client for the website launch.

  • Site maintenance: The web development team takes care of the maintenance of the website by fixing bugs and issues, editing content, adding content, installing plugins and updating UX and SEO.

Related: 8 Web Development Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Differences Between Web Designers And Web Developers

Web design and web development are unique and distinct disciplines. Though the goal of design and development teams is to set up a functional website together, their roles are not interchangeable. Some key differences between web developers and web designers are:

  • A web designer's role is limited to presenting a visually aesthetic and resourceful website and they use tools like Photoshop and InVision Studio to design layouts and generate mock-ups. If a web designer is interested in web development, they can learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SASS, LESS and jQuery.

  • Web developers are programmers who translate wireframes and mock-ups using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. They are not involved in creating the colour schemes, fonts, visual, audio or content collaterals required for a website.

Related: 10 Web Development Careers (With Salaries And Duties)

Career Prospects For Web Designers And Web Developers

Web designers are specialists in visualisation and creative design. They think from an end user's perspective to develop the look and feel of websites and user interfaces. They design the overall theme and user experience of a website. Web development requires professionals who are logical problem solvers with specialised technical qualifications. You can choose a career based on your personal interests and skills. Both fields show evergreen demand for skilled professionals.

Related: Pros And Cons Of Being A Web Designer (And Essential Skills)

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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