Web Design vs Web Development: 4 Main Differences

Madison Zoey Vettorino
Madison Zoey Vettorino

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What comes to mind when you think about web design vs web development? The names of these two aspects of website creation hint at what establishes them as dissimilar, but there are more nuanced differences that make these two concepts vastly unique from each other.

Business owner comparing web design vs web development for her company site

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In this post, we've rounded up the four main differences between website design and web development including some which may surprise you. This post will help you better understand the most significant distinguishing factors between web design and web development. You'll also learn more about how these critical ingredients impact marketers.

What is website design?

Website design is concerned with both the site's usability and its aesthetic. The layout and color scheme, for instance, are two facets of the website's appearance where the web designer would concentrate. Their goal? To create a website that's visually appealing and digestible.

Ultimately, good website design seeks to score high points for user experience. A site with successful web design offers aesthetically pleasing features, is easy to navigate, feels intrinsic to the brand, and fits the customer base.

Because web design is so focused on the visual aspects of the user interface and experience, web designers traditionally produce or work with deliverables such as storyboards, logo design, format, UI & UX design, and color palettes.

What is website development?

On the contrary, website development centers on the mechanisms that allow the site to work correctly. A web developer is responsible for making your web designer's ideas come to life and making the site functional through coding. Keep in mind that there are two categories of website developers: front-end and back-end.

A front-end developer concentrates on writing code that determines how the website displays the web designer's concepts. However, the back-end developer must correctly manage the data within your site's database and enable that data to display on the website's front-end.

What's the difference between web design vs web development?

Of course, there's some crossover when you're evaluating web design vs web development, so it's not uncommon to find a developer with a working knowledge of both. However, these two facets are disparate, and investing in both is essential for delivering an exceptional user experience . They work in tandem to craft an engaging, functional, comprehendible website. Here are some of the most significant disparities between the two.

Website developers are not responsible for creating assets.

The main difference between web design and web development is that while web designers make visual assets that add aesthetic value to the site (and enhance user experience), web developers are responsible for adding those functionalities. The developer will translate the designer's mockups, wireframes, and other assets into code using JavaScript , CSS, and HTML. So the creation of visual assets is the responsibility of the website designer, whereas using code to make those pop up on the website is the job of the website developer.

Website designers are not responsible for writing code.

Another difference between web design and web development is that designers usually do not write code. Of course, there are exceptions — but generally speaking, designers aren’t held accountable for coding.

Consider a web designer's primary responsibilities. These include using an editor such as Photoshop to develop images, creating mockups, and designing layouts. However, coding is not involved in any of these tasks, so that’s where web development steps into the picture.

Alternatively, some companies opt to work with 'no code' website builders so designers can beautify the site and enhance the user experience without coding.

You'll usually pay less for web design vs web development.

Traditionally, web design is less costly than web development. ZipRecruiter indicates that web developer roles usually compensate $36/hour, whereas designers make an average of $29/hour. There are anomalies, but usually, you'll pay less for web design vs web development.

Why? Because web development requires training such as coding. Supply and demand also impact the average cost — there are likely more web designers than developers. However, if you seek an adept web designer or developer, you can expect to pay more than the average rates.

Website development seeks to add functionality to the site; website design aims to add aesthetic appeal.

Remember this: the difference between web design and web development boils down to the role that each plays in website creation. While website development adds functionality to the site through code, website design seeks to enhance the user experience and interface and make the website one that customers will want to view. As a result, these subsections of creating a website are equally essential.

Web design vs web development: what are the similarities?

Because web design and development aim to create a viable website experience for users, they have some commonalities. Diving deeper into the similarities between web design and web development will help you better understand why both are vital to producing a successful website.

Both have a role to play in creating an engaging user experience.

If you want customers to keep coming back to your website, focus on user experience. Why? Because user experience ensures that customers have a positive association with the website and, therefore, the product. If your site's user experience is lacking, customers will become frustrated and decide to take their business elsewhere.

You might be wondering how both web development and design contribute to this. The answer is simple. While design guarantees that customers will have an easy-to-navigate experience on your site, development ensures that the website is properly functioning. A website that doesn't work correctly isn't valuable to consumers, no matter how beautiful it is.

Both must work in unison to develop a cohesive site.

Maybe you're wondering if investing in website design and development is necessary, and here's why the answer is yes. Both have to work in unison to develop a cohesive, functional website. Without design, a website would feel impersonal. Without development, a website wouldn't operate correctly. The result of design and development working in unison is an exceptional web experience.

Web Design vs Web Development Venn DiagramWhat should marketers know about web design vs web development?

Marketers should keep a few things in mind regarding web design and development. For one, communicating with the developer and designer is imperative. The more specific you are about what you're looking for, the happier you'll be with the outcome. Creating a functionality list of must-haves is an excellent way to ensure the results will match your expectations.

In addition, marketers shouldn't forget about the importance of mobile experiences. In 2021, mobile accounted for about half of global web traffic . By hiring a developer and designer to produce a site that’s optimized for mobile, you cover all of your bases and delight customers on all devices.

Web Design vs Web Development: 2 Essential Ingredients for a Successful Site

Now that you know the main difference between web design and web development, you have a more thorough understanding of two of the most critical ingredients to make your site a success. By working with a designer and developer who always keeps customers top of mind, your site will be sure to captivate.

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