Web Design vs. Web Development: What’s the Difference?

Remember that 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines”? Well these days, the line between “web design” and “web development” is indeed getting blurrier, and yet there are distinctions you should be aware of when planning for your own website build or rebuild.

Web design refers to the actual “look” of your site—the aesthetics, the visuals, the fonts and graphics used, the way all your elements are placed on the page with a layout that draws the visitor’s attention and a style that both appeals to the user’s sensibilities and aligns with your particular business or industry. Your site’s design creates a particular “feel” and should clearly showcase your branding. When creating a personalized site to match a customer’s wishes and expectations, web designers pay attention to such things as flow, spatial relations, balance, contrast, emphasis, and consistency, using such design software as Adobe Illustrator or GIMP to achieve the desired effect. Web design also includes mapping out the navigation hierarchy of your site in a logical, easily accessible way. Everything related to web design is visible to the user—what they actually see on their screen, on the front end of your site, the customer-facing portion.

Web development, on the other hand, is performed in the background, on the back end of your site, the gears and cogs that make everything run smoothly and then keep everything running smoothly. Web developers deal in code, building the site’s core structure by employing any number of programming languages (e.g., HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP) to bring the web designer’s vision to life while simultaneously ensuring that all the buttons work, links connect, and fillable forms fill in properly. From the server side of your site, developers build frameworks, test and fix bugs, and are responsible for the technological and mechanical functionality of the site, including such aspects as your email service, metrics monitors, user authentication, and databases. Attending to all the individual site components behind-the-scenes, web development turns a static design into a dynamic public interface that website users count on to operate seamlessly and that website owners can rather easily maintain and update on their own (through such CMS options as WordPress or Joomla) after the site has gone live.

The end result of the marriage of web design and web development is a beautiful site that is also highly functional, user-friendly, and easily navigable. To get the site you want, therefore, you need web design and web development. You do not, however, have to hire different individual professionals to perform these individual tasks. You can, but you don’t have to.

Not only is it becoming increasingly common for designers to be familiar with development and developers to contribute to design, but there are now plenty of generally labeled “website companies” that can take care of the entire website experience for you—not just design and development, in fact, but domain names and registration, content writing and management, digital advertising and online presence, SEO, SSL, technical support, and everything in between.

Where do you even start? RWS Consulting is a full-service website design, website development, website hosting, and social media company that would be happy to provide more information and get you started on the website of your dreams! Call today: 202-409-8113