The difference between web design and web development

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If you are thinking about building a website, or are generally curious about what goes on behind the scenes, then you might be wondering about the ways in which the disciplines of web design and web development are distinct from one another.

While there is plenty of overlap, and some people use these terms interchangeably, there are also differences to keep in mind if you are looking to hire a company or individual to do this work for you. Here is a look at the ins and outs that separate the two.

Web design is aesthetics & UX-led

As the name suggests, a web designer will leverage skills and abilities specifically targeted at addressing the look and layout of a site.

This can encompass everything from the kinds of images and content that are featured on a site and the way they are organized to the configuration of the interface elements and how branding elements are integrated.

In short, a good web designer will be able to make a site look great and work well so that visitors are engaged from the first moment they arrive and then have a satisfying time using the site from that point onwards.

Parachute Design in Toronto notes that web design agencies focus on the aforementioned aspects of a site, although many can also take care of web development responsibilities as well if needed. 

Web development is focused on site building & maintenance

While a web designer is chiefly concerned with the user-facing assets of a site, a web developer will instead be responsible for creating the infrastructure upon which all of the aesthetic elements will eventually hang.

Web developers can specialize in either working on back-end elements of a site, harnessing programming languages like JavaScript to forge the foundations, or working on front-end aspects that are closely related to design. They can also apply a range of skills more broadly across all aspects, with so-called ‘full-stack’ developers being effective in a range of roles.

Making your choice

Hopefully you should have a better idea of what roles a web designer and a web developer can fulfill, although this might not necessarily bring you closer to deciding which is needed for your next project.

Say, for example, that you are hoping to address issues with the way that your website is performing which are likely related to the server on which it is hosted or the hosting package which you are using. In this instance, a developer will be able to assist you admirably.

Alternatively, you may want to revamp your site’s homepage to make it more up to date, or add fresh multimedia content that is unique and engaging with your target audience in mind. These tasks will fall into the remit of a web designer, and their skills will be well suited to such work.

Ultimately you will need the support of both web design and development specialists to create a compelling site, so do not rush into making this decision.


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