What’s The Difference Between Web Design & Web Development? Let’s Find Out
In truth, many people use the two terms “web design” and “web development” interchangeably, but they really do have two very different meanings. If you’re looking for a new job in the web design industry, or if you are someone looking to hire a web professional to build a website for you or your company, you need to know the difference between these two terms and the skill sets that come with them. Let’s take a look at these two terms.
What is Web Design?
Web design is the most common term used for professionals in this industry. Oftentimes, when someone says they are a “web designer,” they are referring to a very broad set of skills, one of which is visual design.
The “design” part of this equation deals with the customer-facing or “front end” part of the website. A web designer is concerned with how a site looks and how the customers interact with it (they are sometimes also referred to as “experience designers” or “UX designers”).
Good web designers know how to use the principles of design to create a site that looks great. They also understand about web usability and how to create sites that are user friendly. Their designs are one that customers want to navigate around because it’s so easy and intuitive to do so. Designers do much more than make a site “look pretty.” They truly dictate the usability of a website’s interface.
What is Web Development?
Web development governs all the code that makes a website tick. It can be split into two categories—front-end and back-end. The front-end or client-side of an application is the code responsible for determining how the website will actually display the designs mocked up by a designer. The back-end or server-side of an application is responsible for managing data within the database and serving that data to the front-end to be displayed. As you may have guessed, it’s the front-end developer’s job that tends to share the most overlap with the web designer. Some common skills and tools traditionally viewed as unique to the front-end developer are listed below:
- CSS preprocessors (i.e., LESS or Sass)
- Frameworks (i.e., AngularJS, ReactJS, Ember)
- Libraries (i.e., jQuery)
- Git and GitHub
Front-end web developers don’t usually create mock-ups, select typography, or pick color palettes—these are usually provided by the designer. It’s the developer’s job to bring those mock-ups to life. That said, understanding what the designer wants requires some knowledge of best practices in UI/UX design, so that the developer is able to choose the right technology to deliver the desired look and feel and experience in the final product.
Web Design vs. Web Development in a Nutshell
In essence, web design refers to both the aesthetic portion of the website and its usability. Web designers use various design programs such as Adobe Photoshop to create the layout and other visual elements of the website.
Small- and medium-sized companies looking for a website or a re-design of their existing website may be confused by the blurred lines surrounding the terms “Web Design” and “Web Development.” Although there are individuals that are able to do both, many companies have dedicated designers which create the website layout and then hand the design files over to a programmer who completes the development stage. Hopefully this article will help clear up the common misconception that design and development are one in the same.
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