Design or Development: What's the difference?

Design and DevelopmentYou've probably heard both terms used interchangeably, but what is the difference between web design and web development?

It's a question that is often asked, even by IT folk themselves (well, by those guys who aren't part of the web crowd anyway).

The confusion stems from the blurring of boundaries around who actually does what during the creation of a website, so this article helps redefine those boundaries.

Web Design

Website design covers the look and layout of a website. It sets the tone and feel of the user interface with careful colour selection, emotive font choice and attractive logos and graphics.

The design side focuses more on visuals rather than how things actually work, although designers will consider the user experience when creating design elements that encourage easy movement around a website.

It is therefore essential for web designers to have a good aesthetic eye and firm grasp on marketing strategies that drive visitors to achieve their goals.

Web Development

Website development focuses on functionality and the interactive features that make a website work properly and do what it's supposed to do.

Design and DevelopmentDevelopers create the code that enriches the user experience - interpreting visitor clicks/taps and performing complex actions that add much deeper levels to an otherwise static canvas.

Login systems, member accounts, ecommerce systems (shopping carts and payment gateways), and databases, are all handled by those unsung heroes who sit diligently tapping away on their keyboards.

Blurring the boundaries between design and development

It's hard to say who explicitly does what when it comes to creating a website.

A good web designer will know how to construct a basic website (HTML markup and CSS, for example) and they'll keep them in mind when designing the visual layout. Consideration of how an interface translates to back-end code will help make the build process a little easier.

Similarly, a good web developer will be aware of design principles and know what looks attractive - what aesthetics work well together to encourage user interaction and which combinations result in a hot mess or difficult usability.

Simply put, both aspects are equally important when producing a website that is attractive, functional and easy-to-use.

Can a web designer be a web developer too? YES

While it is common for individuals to specialise mainly in one field, many designers-come-developers, and developers-come-designers, have an excellent working knowledge in both areas.

Larger, premium websites (with a larger, premium price tag) typically require both a team of designers, and a team of developers, to work on very specialised and highly developed bespoke systems. The designers and developers will ultimately be working very closely together though to ensure seamless cohesion.

Design and DevelopmentAlternatively, small-to-medium businesses can benefit from a multi-tasker who can work on both the design and programming of their website. Just be sure to do your homework to find out that they can do the type of work you need before you hire them.

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