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Web Development vs. Web Design


Web Development vs. Web Design

Lucy Smith June 26, 2021

I recall being perplexed several times in my early stages of studying web development about the distinctions between design and development. What is a web designer’s job description? What does it take to work in web design in Malaysia? Is there a difference between web design and web development? Are these two terms interchangeable and have the same meaning? The straightforward answer is no. Each has an entirely different role than the other. Let’s look at these two terms and their involvement in creating the apps and sites we recognize and enjoy. 

Web design

Web design encompasses all aspects of a website’s aesthetic appeal and usability, including colour scheme, layout, information flow, and other visual aspects of the user interface and user experience. The following are some of the abilities and tools that distinguish a web designer from a web developer:

  • Graphic design
  • Typography
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Colour palettes
  • Logo design
  • Storyboards, mockups and wireframes
  • Layout/ Format
  • Branding

Web design is more focused on what the user views on their computer screen or mobile device, rather than the systems that make it all function beneath the surface. They bring a digital experience to life through the use of colour, imagery, typography, and layout. Many web designers, however, are also proficient with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; being able to build live mock-ups of a web app when pitching a concept to the team or fine-tuning the UI/UX of an app is beneficial. Web designers frequently use templating systems such as WordPress or Joomla!, which enable you to construct websites without typing a single line of code by employing themes and widgets.


Web development

Web developers, often known as programmers, take a layout and turn it into a fully functional website. Simply defined, consider the design as a non-interactive “image” of a website. Developers dissect the design and break it down into its constituent parts. They then create the various website pages using either HTML or a more dynamic approach including programming languages like PHP. Advanced web developers could use a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla to speed up development and make it easier for clients to update and maintain their sites. Using active states for links and buttons, picture and content sliders, as well as other interactive components, web developers can turn a static layout into a dynamic website. The following are some of the most frequent skills and tools associated with front-end developers:

  • Frameworks (ReactJS, Ember, AngularJS)
  • Libraries (jQuery)
  • GitHub and Git
  • CSS preprocessors (Sass or LESS)
  • Javascript/HTML/CSS

Mockups, fonts, and colour palettes are typically provided by the designer, rather than by front-end web developers. The developer’s task is to make those mock-ups come to life. That said, recognizing what the designer wants necessitates some familiarity with UI/UX design best practices so that the developer may select the appropriate technology to achieve the intended look, feel, and experience in the end product. 

The blurring lines surrounding the terms “Web Design” and “Web Development” may mislead small and medium-sized businesses seeking a website or a re-design of an existing website. Although some people are capable of doing both, many businesses hire specialist designers to build the website layout before handing the design files over to a programmer to finish the development stage. Hopefully, this post can dispel the prevalent misunderstanding that design and development are similar.