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Difference between Web Design and Web Development

The usual basic thing that comes to mind of anyone interested in website building is: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WEB DESIGN AND WEB DEVELOPMENT?

A very catchy and a good question.

Well, let’s tackle it both ways. Will take a look at the technical side then we’re going to hop-in to the easier way of defining them. In short, the layman’s term.

The Technical Definition: Are you ready? This is going to squeeze your brain cells. Make sure you have enough energy or you’ll pass out. (kidding)

Don’t be ridiculous, this is not going to hurt you. The definition won’t bite. I’ll make sure this is just a gentle explanation.

Nowadays these terms WEB DESIGN & WEB DEVELOPMENT are virtually interchangeable as “web companies” alternate the way they describe their services. The truth is that the terms reference two fundamentally different aspects of the website building process requiring two unique skill sets. So, the skills are designing and developing. They are two different skills.

Why is it important that you know the difference as you look for someone to design and develop your company’s website? Let’s see if I can provide some clarity.

This is still technical. So please bear with me.

Web Design vs. Web Development In A Nutshell

In essence, web design refers to both the aesthetic portion of the website and it’s usability. Technically, Web designers use various design programs such as Adobe Photoshop for example to create the layout and other visual elements of the website.

Web Developers, on the other hand, take a website design and actually make a functioning website from it. Web developers use HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and other programming languages to bring to life the design files.
Not clear enough? Okay, keep on reading.

Web Design – A Closer Look

Web designers must always begin by considering a client’s website objectives and then move on to set a website’s information hierarchy and help guide the design process. Next, web designers can start creating wireframes and finally move to the design stage. Web designers may use several basic design principles to achieve an aesthetically pleasing layout which also offers excellent user experience.

Let me share with you some design principles.

Design Principles

  • Balance – Web designers need to create a balanced layout. In web design, we refer to heavy (large and dark colors) and light (small and lighter colors) elements. Using the correct proportion of each is critical to achieving a balanced website design.
  • Contrast – In color theory, contrasting colors are ones placed opposite one another on the color wheel (see also complementary colors). Web design offers a few other areas where contrast is applicable. Designers look at contrasting sizes, textures, and shapes to define and draw attention to certain sections of the website.
  • Emphasis – We touched on this a bit when discussing contrast. Emphasis is a design principle founded in the intentional “highlighting” of certain important elements of the website layout. It’s important to note that if you emphasize everything on the page you end up emphasizing nothing. Imagine a page in a book where 80% of the content is highlighted in yellow…does anything stand out? This is the time to take a look at the Information Architecture for direction.
  • Consistency – Also called repetition or rhythm, consistency is a critical web design principle. For example, clean and consistent navigation provides the best user experience for your website visitors.
  • Unity – Unity is the relationship between the various parts of the website layout and the composition as a whole. Based on the Gestalt theory, unity deals with how the human brain visually organizes information by grouping elements into categories.

Web Development – A Closer Look

Web developers are sometimes called programmers, take the design created, and build a fully functioning website. Developers take that design and break it up into its components. They then either use just HTML or a more dynamic approach incorporating programming languages such as PHP to develop the various website pages. More advanced web developers may choose to utilize a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla to streamline development and allow clients an easy way to maintain and update their website.

Web developers may convert a static layout into a dynamic website by using image and content sliders, active states for links and buttons, and other interactive elements.

Phew! The technical definition is quite tough to absorb, right? But I hope you get the point.

Anyway, Let’s end this technicality with some final words.

Final Words

Small businesses 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 can do both, many companies have dedicated designers that create the website layout and then hand the design files over to a programmer who completes the development stage. VAs who can build websites and maintain them are the usual target of these business sectors. It might be your time to shine!

Hopefully, this article will help clear up the common misconception that design and development are the same.

Okay, that’s enough. In short, we can build a website without being too technical in the Information Architecture and Information Technology. We just need website builders available in starting our business or maintaining a client’s business.

Most business owners who hire website builder VAs usually prefer available builders like WordPress, Wix, and others. Meaning, you can build a website that is salable, can sell products and services which can be used by your clients without having the very high technicalities of a web developer.

Being a web designer is enough for you to become a high caliber virtual assistant. This is the reason, for the trend right now. Millennials most especially love building their websites and gets appreciated by clients, thus the possibility of getting hired is achievable.

In layman’s term, Web designing is anything visible. What you see is what you get.

You build the architecture and infrastructure needed and make it available. Web development, on the other hand, is from scratch. Your bullets to go to war are the programming languages you are familiar with and your area of expertise. This is the reason why most web developers require more time for analysis.

Your Turn. Which one would you prefer?

  • Which one is best for you? Web design or web development? Your choice.
  • If you’re a beginner, don’t be too harsh on yourself. FVA Web Design Course can help you with a great start. you don’t have to become so technical like a web developer. Being a web designer is enough to become a high caliber virtual assistant.

Learn Web Design today!




Giving special credits and big thanks to Maj Lobaton for this wonderfully written article. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Difference between Web Design and Web Development”

  1. Pingback: Comparison of WordPress to other Web Design Platforms - FVA

  2. Thanks for this article. I was really confused about web design and web development. I didn’t know what to put in my CV; web designer or web developer? Now it’s clear to me. Thanks.

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