Web Design vs. Web Development- what’s the difference?

There is an ongoing debate on web design vs. web development as a career.

And it doesn’t seem like to be ending anytime soon. At least, not with people who don’t get the difference between web design and web development.

Even I knew nothing before I took my first CS class. And most people are on the same boat as me.

To them, it’s the same thing. And that can be a problem when you’re trying to plan your career. You can start in the wrong place just because you didn’t know any better.

And it’s not a problem for the professionals alone.

Those who are looking to hire them also need to know set them apart. Otherwise, people might hire the wrong expert for the job.

So, today, I will show you how they are different from each other.

Just bear with me a bit more to find the answer.

Web Design vs. Web Development- is there any difference?

The best way to describe web design vs. web development is that they are the fruit of the same tree.

Let me explain.

When you look at an orange, its vivid color that makes you crave it. But it’s the juice inside that fills the thirst.

So on a website, web design is similar to the outer layer of the fruit. It’s the thing that attracts you.

Where else, web development is the juice that keeps you on it. That’s the simplest way to define them.

But if it’s still hard for you to comprehend the web design and web development difference, then let’s get deep into each of them.

Web design: The art of telling the tale

Aesthetics matter.

People love to look at things that seem attractive. That’s what a web design company do. They help you to build a website that pleases the eye.

So, web design is working with the visual sides of things.

And the one who is in charge of such work is a web designer.

They are the ones to build a structure for the website. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

They can’t just design some appealing layout for a website and say their jobs done. If it was that simple, anyone could do it.

A web designer isn’t just building a website for a business. It’s helping to create one. So, he has to represent the brand with the design.

They have to conceptualize the idea and portray it. Otherwise, it’s worthless.

Why is a web designer crucial?

While talking about web design vs. web Development, people always seem to downplay the role of a designer.

And if you think the same, then you’ve got this wrong.

They play both equal parts to create a successful website.

Though, the person in charge of web design has to take the vision of the brand and mimic it on the site. And that’s where the job responsibility of a designer can be a little tricky than his counterpart.

That’s because he only gets an idea to work with, and that’s it.

Now, it’s all on him to conceive a modern and usable design that draws in people. If it looks great but feels awful to navigate, that’s a blunder. If it’s the other way around, that’s no good too.

So, a lot is riding on the web design part to a website’s success.

Web design challenges:

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, they have to take the vision and turn it into reality.

But they only get writing on a paper that the client wants to have. From there, it’s all on them.

So, they have to plan it out everything like:

  • What will be the layout?
  • What will the color scheme be?
  • And even what font should they use?

That’s because even the smallest of changes can make a big difference. The right things would help create the brand a positive impact on the audience.

And you don’t get a lot of time with the audience. 0.05 seconds is all you have. And 94% of them make their opinions on a brand based on the design within those seconds. So, web design is what makes or breaks the game.

Plus, the trends in design are always changing; thus, the web designer needs to be evolving with time to be relevant.

The role of a web designer:

The web design vs. web development predicament will carry on if you don’t understand what you need to do.

And to be on the right track, you need to know your role.

So, let’s take a quick peek at the duty of a designer.

  • The first thing is obviously to conceptualize the idea and create a base using it. Web design requires creativity. If you lack it, then it’s hard to make strides in the field.
  • Branding the website is a crucial part of the job. Brand’s online identity depends on the work you do. So, you’ve to create a visual story for the brand through your craft. 73% of brands use the design to distinguish from the competition.
  • Keeping up with trends is essential in this field. The thing is coding technologies don’t develop fast. They stay the same for some time. But design is fluid, and the changes happen fast. So, you need to keep up with trends.
  • The design needs to be consistent throughout the website. It needs to be gentle on the eyes and easy to navigate. But most importantly, it needs to be responsive. The design needs to support all screen sizes. And it’s a sure way to increase sales as a report confirms 62% of companies enjoyed a boost in sales thanks to it.

These are some of the critical aspects that a web designer has to deal with day in day out.

Web design- skills & tools:

You know what role you have to play. But to carry out the task, you need to have specific skills.

And to sharpen those particular skills as a web designer, you would need to work with several tools. So, that’s what I will be talking about in this section.

Essential tools: The job is designing. So, you need to have a good sense of it. It’s the skill required. And to display the talent on a website, you need some necessary designing tools.

In this case:

Photoshop and Illustrator.

These are the ideal tools to bring your ideas to life on the canvas.

Programming: It is a question that most people have. Do a web designer need to know how to code. And the answer is yes and no at the same time.

Why so?

A web designer doesn’t need to be an expert in programming to do his job. But knowing basic things like HTML & CSS can help him to design a better layout for the website. That’s because he will then understand how the web development team will use his work. Otherwise, his work will get lost in translation in the development phase.

Types of a web designer:

Now, there are branches of a web designer. There are two to be exact. You might have heard about the UX/UI designer.

So, what each of them does, let’s find it out.

UX: No matter what you say, people judge a book by its cover. And studies confirm this claim, as 75% of people make their mind on a website by its looks.

UX stands for user experience.

So, the job of a UX designer is to create an experience. He establishes the cover that makes people buy the book. In this case, the layout of the site that reels in people and keep them stay.

For that, they need to know the audience and create an enjoyable journey for them.

UI: The UX team gets the visitors hooked to the website. But it’s the job of the UI designer to keep them using it.

UI is the user interface.

It’s the way people interact with a system.

So, the UI team’s job is to help you interact with the site. Now, why it matters?

Let’s say you’ve got a car and a plane-side by side. And you don’t know how to drive or fly. But if you take a shot, which one you have a better chance to ride.

Of course, the car. Its dashboard is more straightforward than a plane. So, you have a better chance to figure it out.

UI for a website is quite like that. UI helps it quickly navigate and interact.

But there is a third kind: the visual designers.

And what they are is a mixed bag. In simple words, they are master of both UX/UI design.

Web development: The art of making the story work

In the web design vs. web development saga, it’s time for the next installment:

Web development.

Now, you can make a website look like a million bucks with a design. But it still needs to be developed.

So, what is the difference between web design and web development while building a website? Simple, web designing is like creating the body of a car. Meanwhile, web development is producing the engine of the vehicle that lets it run.

So, it puts life in the car.

And that’s what web development is all about, giving life to your website. A good looking website is of no use if it’s not working. It needs to function.

Web development is where you bring it to life for others to use.

Why is a web developer crucial?

The web designer helps to create a brand image with his design. He forms the patterns, the flows, and everything intricate to make it work.

But a developer is the guy who helps those designs to get painted on the website.

So, everything planned gets executed by the development team. And if a developer can’t follow it up as proposed, then the website won’t turn out to be a smashing hit.

That shows the importance of a web developer.

Web development challenges?

The biggest challenge in web development is to make a web designer’s idea work.

They need to make sure if the concept can become a reality. That’s because you can mock-up designs and tell how something should work. But there needs to be the technology available to make it possible.

And to be honest, it’s not always the case.

Sometimes, the design doesn’t work with the functionality. And the developer needs to make the big call.

So, keeping both parties on the same page is part of the job.

The role of a web developer:

You’ve got to know the part of a web designer. So, it’s time to know about the other guy’s work.

  • The first job is to build an actual interface for the site. You take the design and create it for people to see and interact.
  • The model then needs to become dynamic. So, it is fast and responsive throughout devices.
  • They have to work on the backend side with databases and servers.
  • Get requirements and make changes to adopt the best possible technology.

These are some of the few things a web developer needs to indulge himself in. He has other responsibilities too. But these are the basic things one needs to know about a developer’s role.

Web development- skills & tools:

The main skill for a web developer is obviously to be good with the technologies.

He needs to be well-versed with the tech. But it’s more important to be a problem solver. When you’re trying to adopt different technologies to a website, there will be many difficulties. So, finding solutions to the issues is the job.

Now, development is all about coding. And for that, you need a variety of tools.

Let’s reveal the basic things one by one that every developer needs to work with:

IDE: IDE stands for the integrated development environment. It is where you write the codes for the website and apps.

For example:

  • Atom
  • Visual Studio

Version control platform: It’s where you store your source code. So, it’s like a database. And it’s quite helpful as you can keep all versions of the code right here. So, if you need to go back to an earlier version, you can do that. Also, while working on projects as a team, it lets you share the code with other members on the crew. GitHub is a version control platform of such.

Browser developer tools: The dev tool on the browsers, enables you to make changes while on being on the browser. This way, you can make quick changes to the look of your website and find out which design looks excellent and which helps to speed up the loading speed.

Besides them, the developers had other tools to learn, like hosting, CMS, testing tools. So, there is a lot of technologies they need to learn and the tools they need to know to handle.

Types of Web developer:

So, web design vs. web development is an entirely different ballgame.

And each team has its players playing in different positions. For the web development team, there are three to be precise.

Front-end developer: The guy who takes the vision of the designer and makes his concept exist is a front-end designer.

The work they do is what people can see. They create interfaces. So, without them, there is nothing to look at on the site.

Now, front-end developers mainly work with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Backend developer: They are the builders. They create the foundation on which the website stands.

The work of a backend developer isn’t as apparent as the front-end. But they create the functionalities that bring the site to life. They let us interact with the website.

For instance, the forms you fill in to create an account are the work of a backend developer. So, the programming expertise they require is much more complicated.

Usually, backend devs need to work with PHP, ASP.NET, SQL, or MySQL.

Full-stack developer: The most coveted role in the dev team is the full-stack.

And as the name suggests, it requires you to have an all-round knowledge.

So, you’ve got to be good with the design and also with the tech. That’s because you require to work on both the front and backend of a website.

A Full-stack developer is often the guy who is in charge of a project thanks to his expertise.

Web design vs. Web development Myths:

The biggest challenge for beginners is to pick a side in the Web design vs. Web development debate.

That’s because of the myths that have been around for years. People get confused about the team they should join because of the tales.

So, I thought why not clear the doubts for those who need it.

Developers make the big bucks:

As I’ve stated earlier, people downplay the role of the designer. They think all the work gets done by the developers. So, no doubt, they are going to get paid more.

But that’s wrong. Yes, the average salary of the developer is higher than a designer. But if you take a specific role like a user Experience designer, the wages are on the same scale.

Unless you’re a full-stack dev, who is on top of the food chain.

Designing is easy to learn:

The same story again and again. People think it’s easy to become a designer. And it requires a lot of hard work to become a developer. But it’s subjective. It all depends on how you perceive it.

So, for instance, if you think becoming a developer is easy, then it is the truth for you.

If you feel the other way around, suddenly, that’s become your reality. But all things said and done, it also depends on your pluses on minuses.

If you don’t have the creative bone on your body, you will find it hard to make your way as a web designer. And if you lack logical reasoning, then you won’t be a good fit for the other team.

No need to code:

This myth is about web designers. People believe they don’t need to code. And that’s not entirely true.

A web designer needs to have a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. They can create a prototype for the developers and the client to make the task easy.

And those who can do so brilliantly with advance like JavaScript are more in demand. That’s because they do most of the work in the front-end. So, developers only have to worry about the backend of the site.

Either way, designers need to know some coding to do a better job.

Web design vs. Web development- FAQ:

So, we’ve busted the myths. Now, its time to dive into some other burning questions.

How’s the portfolio should be?

They both have their specific platform to showcase their skills and past work. For a developer, Github is the best place to display his coding skills.

The same doesn’t work for the designer. For him, the best way to showcase his talent is through platforms that solely display designs. So, Dribble or Behance would be the place to keep his work.

How much money is in the game?

I’ve touched the subject before. But people are interested in the figures. So, let’s discuss it.

The average salary of a web designer is around $66,000. The developer said to be making about $87,000. But as I’ve mentioned before, working in a specific design field pays you about the same or even more.

Do I need to be imaginative or logical to shine in a particular area?

Now, it depends. If you have the imagination, then designing would come to you as second nature.

The same way, if you are good with logics, this will give you an upper hand as a developer.

But all things said, in no way, that determines what you can become.   In the end, it depends on what you like to do the most. And with time spent on the thing you love, you can become good at it.

Can you become both?

Yes. But these are rare breeds. However, if you can work hard and learn the skills required, you can become a web designer/developer.


It’s time for the big question: Web Designer vs. Web Developer, what should you become?

And the answer is straightforward: Do the thing you love.

If you love to work with the visual side of things, then web design is the right track for you.

But if you’re more into the coding side of things, development might suit you better.

Either way, remember that they are two sides of the same coin. And one without the other is of no good.

So, hopefully, what you’ve learned today will help you out to figure the right path.