Difference between Web Design and Development
- 22nd March 2018
- Posted by: Stacie Jansen van Vuren
- Category: Web Design
Web design and development are job roles often seen and spoken about, however, there can be confusion with regards to the distinction between the two. This is particularly true when considering a career in either web design or web development. In order to clear up the confusion, we will need to explore what the responsibilities are for each role.
Before discussing the difference between web design and web development, let us take a moment to consider the definition of website design and what it entails.
Website design in a nutshell
Website design can be simply stated as everything about a website; including the content of the website, the aesthetics and the functionality. To design websites, it is necessary to consider it as a process of conceptualising, planning and creating a collection of digital files which will determine the layout, colours, structure, text styles, images, graphics and the use of interactive elements that will deliver the required pages to visitors of a website.
The importance of web design
Strong website design and functional web applications are becoming an increasingly important aspect of modern business as it is vital to ensure that your organisation appears credible online and provides visitors with a positive user experience. When the web design and development are poor, visitors are likely to simply move on to a competitor and this means that it is vital for the website design and development to ensure a user experience that grabs the visitor’s attention and holds it.
Website design is comprised of a variety of different skills and disciplines which are required to produce and maintain functional websites; and it involves the implementation of specific solutions which align with the objectives provided by the client or required by the user.
Now that we have a better understanding of website design and its importance, we can begin to understand the difference between web design and development.
Web Design – What is it?
Everything pertaining to the visual aesthetics and the usability of a website is governed by web design. This includes the layout of the website, the colour scheme used, the flow of information and any other elements related to the visual aspects of the user interface and user experience (UI/UX).
Web design is focused on what the user actually sees on the screen of their computing systems and mobile devices; and is less focused on the mechanics of what goes on beneath the surface in order to make everything function.
Web design uses colour palettes, images, layout and typography to create a user experience that encourages engagement with the website. This also requires the web design professional to consider the user experience in a real world context to ensure that the website is optimised for both desktop and mobile devices as this is a vital aspect of modern day life due to more people choosing to fulfil their web needs via a wide ranging array of electronics.
Typically, web designers will develop a professional relationship with their clients which enables them to gain a deeper understanding of the requirements. These requirements are then transformed into the specifications for the website.
The essential skills
A web designer must have both strong design skills and strong communication skills; as well as the ability to grasp which audiences to target and how to use market research and current trends to provide a well-rounded solution and ensure client satisfaction.
Social media is a rapidly growing aspect of modern communications technology and this creates a need for digital marketing elements to be integrated into the website design. Social media is being utilised far more frequently in business and not only means that a social media presence is important for organisations to flourish, but also enables the organisation to engage more with customers and keep a finger on the pulse of developing trends and needs. A web designer must understand this element in order to create an optimised design for any website.
Keeping with the trend
It is vitally important for a web designer to understand artistic values and to consistently be at the forefront of web technology, evolving trends and online behavioural habits. A web designer must be able to visualise the customer journey and design the website accordingly to create a design which enables ease of use and a user experience that converts visitors into customers.
Web design and development are essential to modern-day organisations and the skills required apply equally to a new design, a re-design or an upgrade of an existing website. This leads to many employment opportunities for those in web design and development, including freelance work and full time work placements.
The range of skills
Top performing web designers may have wide ranging skills or a specialist set of specific skills relating to particular elements of the web design process. Some of the most common tools and skills that distinguish a web designer from a web developer include:
- Graphic Design
- Colour palettes
- Storyboard creation
- Call-to-action button placement
- Logo design
- Proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite and other design software
Web Development – What is it?
Simply put, web development is what governs the code required to make a website operational. This can be divided into two areas – front-end web development and back-end web development.
Front-end web development, also known as client-side, of web applications is the code which determines how a website will display the designs created by a web designer. Back-end web development, also known as server-side, of web applications is tasked with managing data within the database and serving that data to the front-end via a server, where it will be displayed.
When the web design and planning is complete, the web developer is then responsible for integrating the website with third party platforms and tools to ensure functionality and a fit-for-purpose solution.
Web development relies on programming to create and develop web applications and programs and is typically divided into three categories:
This is the code which executes in a web browser and determines what will be seen by visitors to the website.
This is the code which executes on a web server and provides the “behind the scenes” mechanisms which enable a website to work.
This assists in keeping a website running smoothly and functioning as necessary by storing the code, images, electronic files and other data used by the website.
A web developer should possess of vast diversity of skills and each of the three categories mentioned above requires its own specific skills in order to perform efficiently.
- C Programming
Database technology skills:
It can be seen that front-end web development shares the most overlap with web design, however, front-end web development is not typically responsible for creating website design mock-ups, choosing the colour palette or selecting the typography. These elements are usually provided by the web design role, whereas web development is responsible for making these mock-ups a reality. It is, however, important for those in web development to have an understanding of user interface and user experience in order for them to choose the best technology to create and deliver the required look, feel and user experience in the final solution.
Careers in Web Design and Development
Regardless of whether you are considering a career in web design or web development, there are certain approaches that can be taken to boost your employability in either of these disciplines. Although not always required, gaining relevant certifications will improve your skills and ensure that you have a strong understanding of the various elements involved in your chosen career path; as well as a foundation of knowledge that will enhance your abilities.
Build knowledge with starter courses
If you are new to this field, it is strongly recommended that you begin your studies with beginner web design courses, with little to no entry requirements, and build your specific skills from a solid base. If you already work in this field and are looking to increase your capabilities and further develop your career, there are a multitude of courses and packages to suit your specific career path.
Broad scope for career channels
There is such a broad scope of specialisations associated with web design and development and it is possible to study any specific aspect of web design, web development or another computing systems area.
Some of the skills typically gained by web design and development courses include:
- Website design
- Web application development
- Database design
- Data analysis
- Digital marketing
- Graphic design
- Software development
- Front-end/Client-side development
- Back end/Server-side development
- User End design
Some organisations have in-house web design and development teams; whilst others out-source this work to web design agencies that specialise in creating and maintaining websites for other organisations. The roles of web design and web development also allow for freelance careers or setting up your own business. Other avenues to explore are working for design studios, advertising firms and digital marketing agencies.
Build your portfolio
Work experience is very important for anyone considering a career in web design and development as these roles require the ability to demonstrate your proficiency in the required skills and knowledge. It is highly beneficial to gain work experience in as many of the web design and development elements as possible, as this will greatly enhance your portfolio and show a range of design skills and technical ability.
Work experience can be gained on the job if you are already employed in this field and there are various options available for those who have not yet begun their career. It is very useful to practically apply theoretical knowledge whilst studying and this can be done by building your own “test” website as you learn. You can also offer to assist charity organisations, community outreach programs, schools and even people that you know, to design, develop and create websites that put into practice what you have learned.
Organisations need a website
For an organisation to be truly successful in the age of modern technology, a professional website it considered a must. This directly results in web design and development professionals being in high demand across the globe. Statistics consistently prove that an organisation with a well thought out and carefully considered website has far greater success than those without.
Skilled and experienced web design and development professionals typically enjoy careers that are rewarding, challenging, stimulating and offer a great variety of opportunities and career progression.