Web Design vs. Web Development: What’s the Difference?
In web creation, the terms web design and web development are often used interchangeably. While design and development can overlap, the two roles perform different functions, each crucial to your website’s performance. Let’s take a closer look at web design and web development to see how each fits into the creation of your website.
What is Web Design?
Web design refers to your website’s style, design and layout concept. A web designer is responsible for creating the website layout and adding all the elements, including:
The goal of web design is to attract and convert potential leads. To accomplish this, the web designer needs to design a simple, attractive and relevant layout for the target market. The site must provide a positive user experience (UX), building trust with potential customers from the first impression.
A good website design is responsive and adapts to both desktop and mobile devices. It needs to look and feel the same on the computer as it does on a smartphone.
Effective websites have these elements in common:
Compelling Use of Negative Space
Negative space is the area between different elements on a web page. These spaces do not contain content. A web designer should know how to make the best use of negative space without wasting it.
Simple Navigation with Clear Choices
When first-time viewers land on your website, they should never have to guess where to go or what to do next. There should be clear, simple navigation from one page or function to the next.
Media is a general term for items such as photos, videos, logos, images or graphics. These items often attract readers’ attention when they first land on the site. For this reason, it’s important to use high-quality graphics that are attractive and relevant to your audience.
A fancy font may look cool, but it’s often unreadable and can contribute to high bounce rates. Use an easy-to-read font that follows a hierarchy: headings, subheadings and content. The font should be easy to read on any device.
Too much content and no images can wear the reader out. Too many graphics and too little content may not provide enough information. Your website should have the appropriate balance of text and images on every page.
What is Web Development?
1. Front-End Web Development
The front-end developer builds the site layout and design using the appropriate coding language. They integrate the web designer’s concept to create a functioning website. What people see when they view your website is the combination of the designer’s ideas and the developer’s engineering.
Common duties of a front-end developer include:
- Optimizing user experience
- Developing and maintaining the user interface
- Implementing design on mobile websites
- Creating tools that improve site performance on any browser
- Managing software workflow
- Following SEO best practices
- Fixing bugs and testing for usability
2. Back-End Web Development
A back-end developer handles the codes and functions that power the website. The developer may build and maintain apps or tools from behind the scenes. Most of what a developer does is never seen by a website visitor.
Common duties of a back-end developer include:
- Building and maintaining website applications
- Assessing the efficiency and speed of current applications
- Writing high-quality code
- Managing hosting environments
- Testing quality software
- Troubleshooting and debugging
- Keeping on top of new technologies
Do You Need a Web Designer or Developer?
Web design and development are ideally a package deal. You need to work with a digital marketing agency that offers both services in house. When designers and developers work together on the same team, you are more likely to get a cohesive website with fewer problems. Here’s how you know which service you need.
If Your Website is Already Built
If you already have a website and are happy with it but just need a few design updates, a designer can help. A designer can implement new concepts, improve layouts and navigation, update the visuals and branding of the site and update or edit photos or videos.
If Your Website is Having Problems
You may be happy with your website design, but you’ve noticed that some of the links don’t work, the pages load slowly or the site doesn’t perform well on all devices. For this, you may need both front-end and back-end web developers. It depends on the depth and nature of the problem.
If You Need a New Website
Whether you are first starting a site or replacing an old site from the ground up, a new website will require a web designer and developer—preferably on the same team.
When hiring a web designer or developer, find a seasoned professional who can create a high-performance, secure website. You don’t want to take shortcuts in this area to save a few dollars. Doing so will cause numerous problems and security issues down the road. You’ll be far more satisfied working with a team that can get you what you want the first time. This will save money in the long run.
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