The Difference Between Web Design and Web Development

web design vs development

Few people consider the work that goes into creating an attractive, functional website — that is until they find themselves in need of one of their own. Behind every excellent website is a hard-working team of web designers and developers, the individuals who use their expertise (and considerable talents) to create, build, and launch every part of what you scroll through on your smartphone or computer. 

Often, website developers and designers are the unsung heroes of our online world, operating behind the scenes but maintaining a critical role nevertheless. But when the time comes for your own website launch or redesign, you’ll likely find yourself wondering: what do web designers and developers actually do? Many people don’t realize that even though both designers and developers are responsible for creating a high-quality website, the two roles couldn’t be more different.

Web Design: Translating Aesthetics and Usability into a Creative Vision

Web designers are the creative force behind a website, crafting a website’s look and feel according to important design principles, a specific brand identity, and more. They’re like the architects that design every last detail of your dream home’s floor plan, laying out a precise plan before the actual construction begins. Web design is duly focused on the visual aesthetics of a website and its usability, weaving together the principles of color, layout, information flow, and others to produce an attractive, user-friendly experience.

web design sketch

A skilled web designer will nearly always have these key skills and tools on hand:

  • Graphic design; including logo design
  • Layout and formatting
  • Typography
  • Text readability
  • Color schemes
  • Branding
  • Wireframes, website mock-ups, and storyboards
  • Software including Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and Framer

Web designers are so much more than the creative minds behind how a website looks — there’s a surprising amount of strategy that goes into the design process as well. With an appreciation for what it means to be an online user, web designers can take a thoughtful approach to the color scheme, layout, images, text, and even button locations to deliver the best possible results for both the user and website owner. 

At the end of the day, website designers are the ones who clearly understand how to take a specific goal and purpose, factor in the user experience, and bring an exceptional online experience to life. 

Web Development: Adding Function to Form to Bring the Concept to Life

If web designers are the architects of a site, then web developers are the expert construction crew that build everything from the ground up. Using the design plans as their blueprint, web developers tap into a specialized assortment of web languages and software programs to construct a functioning website. 

There are generally two types of web developers: front-end and back-end developers. In most website projects, front-end developers make up the crew that works most closely with website designers. For developers on the front end, the goal is to construct the website interface using HTML, CSS, or JavaScript — each one a complex computer language in its own right. Every last visual detail is carefully translated, and the final product is a working website that both looks and functions flawlessly. 

The back-end developer, sometimes called a server-side developer, handles the task of managing all data, ensuring that it’s properly served to the front-end for display. If you want to create a website with dynamic data, like an online form that allows users to sign up for your newsletter, you’re going to need a back-end developer on your side.

For an experienced web developer, particularly those on the front-end, the following skills and tools are always ready to go:

  • HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript
  • Content management systems like WordPress
  • CSS preprocessors like Sass and LESS
  • GitHub and Git

Web development requires specialized training and a dedicated eye for detail, making a talented developer more than worth their weight in gold.

A Powerhouse Pairing that Can Deliver a Seriously Successful Site

Ultimately, web design and website development are both key players in the process of building your next website — and it’s important to remember that they should be taking their place on the digital game field at the same time. The best websites are produced when website design and development work in tandem throughout the process, providing valuable feedback and context at each stage of the project. All too often, a web design team assumes that their work is done the moment they pass the baton to the developers; but really, it’s only with a cooperative effort that a truly effective (and aesthetically pleasing) website can be born.

aesthetically pleasing website

If website development and design sound like somewhat of a Herculean task, that’s because it often is — luckily, there are experienced professionals out there who are ready to take on the challenge. At Page Design, our Sacramento web design team works diligently to bring clients’ digital dreams to life in a way that makes sense for their online users. Our web designers and developers are a passionate crew and can be found working alongside each other through the completion of every website project — because here, we definitely practice what we preach. Our clients are always in the loop when it comes to their website’s progress, which makes it simpler to deliver a final product that’s everything they hoped for and more.

If you’re ready for a website redesign and you want to make sure your new site is a smashing success, contact Sacramento’s favorite web design firm today: Page Design.


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