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Web Development vs Web Design: The Big Difference

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samuel brent
Samuel Brent
Sam is a born and bred North Londoner. Growing up in Archway, attending primary school at Montem Juniors in Holloway, and secondary school at Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park. After success with his A-Levels at LA SWAP, he studied film at the London College of Printing (later the London College of Communication) in the Elephant and Castle and then Clerkenwell. This led to working with the Guardian in Farringdon, and a career in Journalism. After years of a miss-spent youth in Camden Town, Sam now lives in Belsize Park with his wife Marina and their two children, Esme and Primrose. Samuel enjoys Gardening and cycling, and is an avid Arsenal fan and works out of his office in Shoreditch.

When considering a web design agency, you might at times wonder if you actually need a web development company instead. Many people get confused about the difference between web design vs web development. Where does one end and the other begin?

A common response is that site and development is all about coding. In actuality, this isn’t entirely accurate. Web design encompasses much more than just design, while web development encompasses much more than just coding.

To assist with clarifying matters, we’ll break down the differences between a web developer and a web designer in this post by first defining each profession, then looking at the tools and resources required for each, and finally breaking down the personality types that suit one or the other.

What is Web Development?

All of the code that makes a website work is governed by web development. It’s divided into two parts: front-end and back-end. The code that determines how the website will actually display the designs mocked up by a designer is known as the front-end or client-side of an application. The back-end, also known as the server-side of an application, is in charge of managing data in the database and sending it to the front-end for display. As you may expect, the front-end developer’s work has the most overlap with that of the web designer.

Web Development for business

The Mindset of a Web Developer

A developer’s stereotyped image is that of a quiet, anti-social introvert. Many developers, on the other hand, resist these categories and exhibit extrovert tendencies. Here’s a rundown of some of the more common stereotypes regarding web developers’ personalities:

  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Scientific
  • A worldview based on black-and-white dichotomies
  • One step at a time is taken
  • Pay close attention to small things
  • Smart decision-makers
  • Obsessed with numbers
  • Efficient
  • Relies on tried and true methods
  • Slower to express themselves
  • Structured

While some of these attributes may hold true for some website developers, others may not. It’s important not to think in terms of stereotypes.

A Web Developer’s Tools

The following are some of the most frequently used skills and tools associated with front-end developers:

  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript
  • CSS preprocessors (i.e., LESS or Sass)
  • Frameworks (i.e., AngularJS, ReactJS, Ember)
  • Git and GitHub
  • Libraries (i.e., jQuery)
  • Web template design

What is Web Design?

Web design encompasses all aspects of a website’s visual aesthetics and usability, including color scheme, layout, information flow, and other visual aspects of the UI/UX (user interface and user experience). Some of the skills and tools that make a web designer different from a web developer are:

The Personality of a Web Designer

Designers look at the world, interact with it, and process it visually. If they were to offer you directions to their house, they’d probably detail the physical landmarks you’d pass along the route.

  • Artists who are extrovert and expressive
  • Entrepreneurs
  • An uncanny ability to predict what people want
  • Have faith in their instincts
  • Capability to speak in front of a large group of people
  • Take societal concerns into account when making judgments
  • Structure is seen as a barrier to creativity
  • Emotions can be simply expressed
  • Thinking outside the box is a plus
  • Doesn’t care for too much organization or norms

A Web Designer’s Toolkit

Some of the skills and tools that make a web designer different from a web developer are:

  • Adobe Creative Suite or other design software (e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator)
  • Design for the web
  • Branding
  • Mock-ups and storyboards are all examples of wireframes.
  • Color schemes
  • Typography
  • UX design is a type of user interface design.
  • Creating a logo
  • Layout/format
  • Adding call-to-action buttons to your website

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

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how a web designer differs from a web developer. To tie things up, here’s a quick rundown of the most significant differences between these two roles:

  • Developers use coding languages to build the basic structure of a website, while designers are more creative and focused on the user experience.
  • Web developers must have a high level of technical understanding. Understanding sophisticated programming languages and frameworks is part of this. Even though there is some research and analysis involved, a web designer’s main job is to make a website look good and be creative.
  • Web designers create a mockup based on visual, UX, and UI elements to envision the idea and style of a website. If the idea is feasible in terms of money and technology, web developers build and code the site.
  • Developers focus on functionality and structure, whereas designers focus on aesthetics and usability.
  • A front-end web developer role has the most overlap with the role of web designer.

Whether you’re building a Shopify store, a nonprofit website, a Drupal website, or a WordPress website for a B2B company, both design and development are crucial.

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