Web Development and Web Design: Is There a Difference?

Despite the different words, plenty of people consider a web developer and web designer to be one and the same. It’s an easy mistake to make, but one that deserves clarification. Creating a new website involves both design and development. Many companies offer both of these services, making it harder to understand the differences between the two.

If you are in the beginning stages of your website, or are thinking about updating your existing one, you need to be aware of both web development and web design elements that are required to make your site operate as you want it to. Even if you aren’t building your website yourself, it’s important to understand what goes on and what is needed. The more knowledge you have, the more informed you will be when hiring a company or person for the job.

 

Web Design: Visually Representing Your Brand

An example of a website we recently designed for Chill Therapy.

 

Web designers have the difficult task of designing a website that will be visually pleasing. This involves a lot more than just picking the right colors. A good website doesn’t just look good, it represents a brand accurately and displays information in a way that encourages customers to stay, and hopefully, convert.

As a web designer, you have to take information from clients and decide what to do with it. In some cases, a client might want to include too much information that you know will overwhelm site visitors. In other cases, too little information can lead to an underwhelming website that won’t offer enough value to users.

A good designer will help you strike the right balance and will design how your website will look and how all of your information will be organized by creating what is called the Information Architecture (IA). Once a good IA is in place, a designer will then build out the wireframes, which show a basic view of how your website will look and where certain blocks of content will be (such as headings, header images, videos, text, CTA buttons, etc.)

Image: Source

 

The above example is a basic wireframe for a homepage. Main content areas are marked off, but that is it. You do not decide things like fonts, colors, and images at this stage. Once wireframes are complete, then you move to designing the website. Decisions are made at this point regarding visuals (images and video), branding colors, font styles, and more.

Once the design is complete, it’s time for development.

 

Web Development: Bringing the Design to Life

Now that you’ve got an approved design, it’s time to turn it into an actual website that users can navigate to and use. There are numerous approaches to development, and how you develop your website will depend on what functionality you want and how complex your design is. Your developer will likely use HTML and CSS, which are the most common web development “languages”. More complex designs and websites may incorporate other things like JavaScript or PHP.

Alternatively, a popular method of web development utilizes Content Management Systems (CMS). A CMS helps speed up the development process and makes it easier for clients to update their website once initial development is complete. A popular CMS is WordPress, which gives you infinite possibilities for building websites- from basic single page sites to complex ecommerce platforms.

 

Here’s an example of a website we developed for Effective Agents using WordPress.

 

 

As a web developer, you are in charge of bringing a design to life and ensuring that it functions the way that the client wants it to and in a way that customers will be able to understand. If a user navigates to your website and it doesn’t respond the way they anticipate, they will leave in search of something better. Providing a positive user experience (or UX) is crucial to developing a successful website.

For example, if a web designer gives you a design that you know will cause a webpage to load too slowly, therefore contributing to negative UX, as a web designer you should take the necessary steps to improve page load speed. This may include reducing the number of elements on one page, decreasing image sizes, or updating your hosting plan.  

 

Can One Person Handle Both?

Technically, yes. But as you can probably tell by now, design and development each involves unique skill sets. A better option? Hiring a company that has designated designers and developers that will work together to produce a website that looks great, functions perfectly, and helps contribute to a business’s overall goals. Design and development works together closely, and by hiring one team with all the necessary skills, you are on the path to success for you and your brand.

At Uhsome, we have built a great team of designers and developers who can handle website projects of any size. If you are looking to build a new site, or redesign your existing one, we hope you’ll contact us for a free quote.

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