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What is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

Posted on: Mar 21, 2017
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 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 skillsets that come with them.



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"). Good web designers know use the principles of design to create a site that looks great. They also understand about web usability and how to create a site's that are user friendly that customers want to navigate around in because it’s so easy and intuitive to do so.



Web development comes in two flavors - front-end development and back-end development. Some of the skills in these two flavor overlap, but they do have very different purposes in the web design profession. A front-end developer takes the visual design of a website (whether they created that design or it was handed to them by a visual designer) and builds it in code.


Back-end development deals with the more advanced programming and interactions on the pages. A back-end web developer focuses on how a site works and how the customers get things done on it using certainly functionality. This could include working with code that interfaces with database or creating features like Ecommerce shopping carts that connect to online payment processors and more. 



While some web professionals specialize or focus on certain areas, many of them blur the lines between different disciplines. They may be most comfortable working with visual designs using programs like Adobe Photoshop, but they may also know something about HTML and CSS and may be able to code some basic pages. Having this cross-knowledge is actually very helpful as it can make you much more marketable in the industry and better at what you do overall. A visual designer who understands how webpages are built will be better equipped to design those pages and experiences.


Similarly, a web developer who has a grasp of the basics of design and visual communication can make smart choices as they code up pages and interactions for their project.

Ultimately, for someone to work on your site, you need to know what you’re looking for — web design or web development.




Kyrnin, Jennifer. "Want to Know the Difference between Web Design and Web Development?"ThoughtCo. N.p., 22 July 2016. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.