Non-techies often misinterpret web design and web development to be interchangeable terms. This creates a lot of confusion among people and can lead to big blunders in your business. As an entrepreneur or a businessperson, you need to understand the difference between web design vs web development. This will help you hire the right kind of freelancers to create a website.
In this blog, we’ll compare web design vs web development. We’ll first understand the meaning of the terms – ‘web design’ and ‘web development’. We’ll also understand the responsibilities that these titles entail. Next, we’ll learn how to hire a web designer and how to hire a web developer. Since these are two different roles, you will need to hire people with specific skills in each of these categories.
For a quick skim through the main differences between web design vs web development, you can watch this video:
However, to understand the business side of things and gain a thorough knowledge, keep reading!
What is Web Design?
Website design (or web design) basically involves designing the graphics and coming up with the complete picture of what the website will look like. A web designer will create the entire visual appeal of the website. This will include what appears on each page, the icons, the font, the spaces, the colours, everything. In simple words, everything you see when you open a webpage is designed by a web designer.
And no, it’s not a simple job!
The layout decided during website design defines the website’s user experience. Considering that the work of a web designer is related to visuals, this task is often underrated.
Website design is the essence of your online platform. The user experience in these blueprints can make or break your website’s engagement factor.
By hiring a good web designer, you can make sure that the users:
- Will like your website when they look at it
- Can smoothly navigate through the pages, always finding what they are looking for
- Can easily understand the features available on your website just by looking at them
- Will enjoy being on your website
It is not a simple task to take just a written idea as input and create a usable design and an engaging user experience. This is one of the reasons why it is critically important that the website’s design is decided at an early stage before web development starts.
What is Web Development?
The design layouts created by the web designer need to be transformed into live web pages. This is where a website developer comes in. Web development can involve the use of a variety of software tools and programming and development languages. The web developers will take your requirements and the website design as input and create an active functioning website.
Now, just as there is a difference in web design vs web development, web development itself is a two-stage process: front-end development and back-end development. Let’s learn more about each.
The design created by your web designer comprises a unique combination of styling, fonts, widget placement, colour theme, and other similar elements. A front-end developer will blow life into this picture. Front-end development is carried out by coding a webpage that contains all the planned components with exactly the same look and feel as intended by the web designer. Again, even though the task sounds trivial, do not take it lightly. Just as the website designer decides the user interactions and plans the user experience, the front-end developer makes it all happen.
In a nutshell, front-end web development is the job of building the layout of the website. The back-end developers will use this layout to add a functioning feature on the website. In a way, this provides a cooperative stage between web design and backend development.
We have our website’s design ready, and this design has been converted into a functioning layout. All of this is incomplete if the website still does not serve the basic purpose specified in your requirements. What use is a button if it does not do anything, right? You may require a form on your website, management of some blog articles, user login sessions, or some other backend services.
Backend developers will add a brain to your website by coding its functionality and designing its storage architecture. The information stored and managed by your website, the different features and functionalities offered, or the algorithms performing your services; everything is included in backend development.
In technical terms, a backend developer controls the data stored and requests made to the server.
To put it simply a web designer will,
- Create your website’s visual appeal
- Transform the web designer’s designs into web pages
- Populate these web pages with live features, information, and functions
Web Designer vs Web Developer: How to Hire them?
After understanding the differences between web design vs web development, you must have realized that you cannot ask the same person to perform both the tasks for you. Each requires unique expertise. That is why it is important that your website is designed by professional web designers and developed by professional web developers.
Hiring Web Designers
People tend to confuse web design with graphic design. It’s not the same, and therefore, I sincerely request you: DO NOT go ahead and ask your graphic designer to design your website. A graphic designer’s work is strictly limited to creating visuals, banners, icons, etc. They have nothing to do with user interaction.
Skill-set for a Web Designer
As you set out to find a good web designer for your website, look for the following:
- Knowledge and experience of tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, etc. to create the website’s final design layout
- Experience in graphic designing and logo designing
- Ample idea of user experience to make sure that all functions on the website are presented in the simplest possible way. Web designers achieve this by making good UI/UX decisions on buttons, images, and the overall website format.
- Knowledge of latest trends in website designs. Web designers also need to maintain consistency with design layouts popularized by Google and other universally used websites. In this way, the user will find it easier to understand the layout of your website
- Capability to do branding for your website. The web designer needs to define a color palette, typography, readability standard, theme, etc. for maintaining a unique brand image of the company.
Hiring Web Developers
Now that you have a basic idea of web design vs web development, it is good practice to divide work between frontend and backend web developers, too. While a frontend developer will implement the layout of the website, with its style, theme, colors, etc., the backend developer will add features to it. These two are separate tasks and each requires knowledge of different programming languages and development frameworks.
Skill-set for a Front-end Web Developer
A front-end developer is generally expected to have knowledge in:
- Building an interface for the website. The user interacts with your website using this interface
- Knowledge of styling preprocessors, JS frameworks, and libraries to speed up the development process
Front-end developers will, therefore, create the markup design on which the back-end developers can build a dynamic, functioning website.
Skill-set for a Back-end Developer
Here’s what your back-end developers should possess:
- Knowledge of some relevant backend development programming language and framework, such as PHP, NodeJS, Python, Ruby on Rails, etc.
- Expertise in database design and a database management tool and language such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.
Skill-set for all Web Developers
Both front-end and back-end developers should have a good notion of a couple of common development tools:
- Both kinds of developers may use the same IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to develop the website.
- Web developers also track the history of different versions or build of the website with time with the use of versioning tools (such as git). This lets them revert changes to a previous version if the website ever dysfunctions or breaks down.
How to Manage Your Technical Team?
As your team starts working together to create your website, there may be moments when it’s a tug of war between web design vs web development. If this happens, understand that you are at fault. Compatibility among designers and developers is the key to any successful project. Here are some useful tips to note while managing your web designers and web developers.
Hiring your team
Web developers may suggest finding web designers of their own choosing and delivering the website as a whole. This may be a good idea if you are not too keen on the design requirements of the website because it frees you from the responsibility of their compatibility. But, this path has its own shortcomings. You will not be in constant touch with the designers, losing considerable control over branding, themes, and other visual aspects of the website.
So, if you are very particular about the website’s visuals and branding aspects, ensure that you personally hire your web designers. Remain in constant contact with them to provide feedback on the designs. This gives you a better chance of ending up with the exact website that you intended.
Setting up a work process for your team
Design precedes development, and requirement specification precedes design. Stick to this simple thumb rule, and you’re good to go.
By locking the requirements prior to the start of web design, you make sure that the design perfectly reflects your vision, purpose, brand, etc. Similarly, fix the final design before front-end development starts, at least a page at a time. This saves your developers from making changes to the page layouts again and again. And, complete the front-end development of each page before its back-end functionality is added. This way, the back-end developers will not need the redundant effort of adapting their code to the page’s layout afterwards.
With a team that’s never frustrated with repetitive work, you will see that the website progresses much more smoothly and efficiently.
Checking feasibility of your team
Always perform a feasibility check on all requirements (specified by you or added by the web designer). This is done by consulting web developers at an early stage for any possible conflicts of the requirements with the development framework that they are using. By doing so, you will avoid any future web design vs web development team wars.
Let’s Sum Up: Web Design vs Web Development
Let’s recap what we learned:
|Creating the visual look and feel of the website.|
Planning the interface for a good user experience.
|Converting the design layouts into real web pages.|
Building the functionality of the website, including architecture, database, controls, features, etc.
|Graphic editing tools like Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, etc.||Front-end|
|Use of relevant tools.|
Graphic design and logo design.
Notion of user experience.
Knowledge of design trends.
Branding, color palettes, typography and readability.
|Building the user interface with relevant tools|
Building the website structure and backend functionality
Management of database.
Programming the queries and server access controls.
If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to comment below and we will get your query answered.