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Website Design vs. Website Development: Do You Know the Difference?

website development

Do you need website design or development? All websites need both — but many business owners don’t know the difference. The difference is so confusing, many online resources list both as having identical roles.

What happens when your website looks great on your phone but bad on your desktop? Or your website works well but has an outdated design? Web design and development are two very different things.

Before you work on your site, continue reading and know the difference between website development and design.

Website Development vs. Design Overview

Here’s the easiest way to remember the difference:

Web design — the aesthetic aspect of the website and how its performance ties into the appearance.

Web development — create the function of a website using coding languages such as HTML or Javascript.

Web design is the easiest tool to use, for both amateurs and professionals. Amateurs can purchase pre-designed layouts and add the ready-made code to their website.

Professional web designers usually design the layout in a third-party program and then apply that design to the website.

But developers create the core of your website. They’re the ones who write the code that brings your website to life. They create everything from the individual files and pages to all of the content and media.

We can also look at their differences by using a house. A developer is like a construction worker or an architect — they build the foundation of your website, build the walls, install the roof, and place the doors and windows.

A web designer is like an interior or exterior specialist. A designer decides what color to paint the house, the style of each floor, what flooring and wallpaper to use, and can even add some details to the home’s exterior.

A Closer Look

While this is only an overview, the roles of designers and developers are even more complex. Here’s a closer look at both roles.

Web Design

If you hire a web designer, you ideally have your own website already created. This can be just basic code or you have a website backbone with any hosting or blogging company.

The designer comes in to create the appearance of your dream website.

First, your designer will have a consultation with you. They will discuss design aspects such as color schemes, typography, and media. Once they have this information, they will create the wireframe. This helps the design process.

Designers are masters of basic design principles and best practices. These can be applied to any website to guarantee aesthetics but are flexible enough to customize. These principles include:

Balance — a balance of colors to compliment the design, such as large blocks of dark colors and small blocks of light colors.

Contrast — also known as complementary colors, these are colors based on opposite sides of the color wheel. Examples include yellow and purple and red and green.

Emphasis — highlights certain important features of the website.

Consistency — web design principles used to improve the design and UI/UX. An example is clear navigation.

Unity — interpreting how the human brain organizes and visualizes information and applying this to your website.

Your designer will use a combination of these principles and your ideas to design your website.

Web Developer

Developers, also called programmers, focus on the website’s function.

This isn’t to say their job doesn’t include design. But rather than just focus on the image, the developer focuses on every aspect that ensures your website will perform well.

How they work is by breaking up your website into components. The most obvious example is breaking up the website by pages.

Developers use coding languages and programs such as PHP or HTML to create each of these pages and applying each to your website as a whole.

Each website has its own development emphasis and a professional web developer will know which platforms work for each client.

For example, professional writing or blogging companies may require a website more complex than what a website such as WordPress offers. A web developer will come in and create a unique CMS program to your needs.

Can a Web Developer Also Be a Web Designer?

Of course! Actually, this is becoming a new industry standard.

What about a web developer who’s also a designer? There are professionals who excel in both. They will usually start with the design. Each page will look like a picture than an actual website.

Then they use their development skills to create the website’s function. They will apply interactive media, responsive typography, active states for buttons, and other interactive elements so that picture performs like a website.

Why is this becoming a new standard? Businesses don’t want to look for a designer and a developer. And like mentioned previously, most website owners don’t know the difference.

To ensure the site owners get their dream website, hiring a professional who can do both is easiest. The developer/designer can take the site at the beginning stages and transform the site into a beautiful and well-performing website.

Other web design firms will hire a staff of developers and designers who can collaborate on websites together.

When to Hire a Designer or a Developer

Not all projects call for a designer/developer hybrid. Sometimes, you only need one. Here are a few instances when you should hire someone with expertise in one website element:

  • Your website backend is already created
  • You have a design but need a backend created
  • Need to fix something with your design or backend
  • You have a smaller project
  • You need a defined role for a larger project

Identify your project needs and know who to hire.

Do You Need a Web Designer or Developer

Website development and design are often confused or used interchangeably. But both roles are very different.

It’s important you know the difference so you know which services you need. Use the education in this guide to have the website of your dreams.

Does your business in Tucson need a website? Take a look at our services.