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Web design vs. web development — the difference

Creating a website or a web application is a complex process. It is very important that our business client participates in the entire journey of web development, tells us about the company’s needs, and provides us with useful feedback. However, to take an active part in building your digital product, you need to understand the difference between web design and web development first.

One is about how the digital product looks and the second is about its functionality in general. Web design and web development are closely related, but they are not the same. We wish to explain how they differ and what tasks are typical to each of these development stages. After reading this article, you will be ready to actively participate in the web development process during our project workshops.

Web development and design — statistics

In the Pew Research Center Study, you can read that 81% of B2B customers are searching for a product or service provider’s website to find crucial information before deciding on purchasing. Of course, having a website or web application does not mean that you are going to be a successful entrepreneur. What is important is the functionality of your web page (you need to make sure that your website enables users to complete actions like ordering services or contacting you) and great design. According to web credibility research from Stanford, 75% of users make judgments about a company’s credibility based on how its website represents the company. 

Most of us care a lot about the website or web application design. The elegant website implies that the company is professional and so will be the services they offer. We are used to judging a book by its cover and in this case, it is hardly a bad approach. First impressions are really important and if an organization decides to invest in a website, they should think carefully about their image. To ensure the best visual solutions for your website, you need to understand what web design is.

What are the differences between web design and web development?

In short, web design is a term that refers to the visual presence and usability of the website from the end-user perspective. Web development is all about coding. It is the process during which created designs are moved from the projects of designers to the actual, functional website. To do that, web developers leverage programming languages like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and backend technologies. Web designers create unique designs that will represent your brand, and web developers “bring them to life” on the actual website.

Web development stages

The process of website or web application creation consists of multiple stages. The primary steps are workshops and project planning. Before we start working on your digital product, we need to learn as much as possible about your expectations and business goals to advise you on the best solutions and technologies. During workshops, you’ll talk with our best consultants, designers, and developers to let them know what features should be created for your product. 

Once the plan of the project is ready, we can start with designing, content writing, and developing the website or web application. Before launching, we perform various tests to make sure that all the features work as planned and that the website is responsive. After launching your digital product, we can help you maintain it and help you to scale your solution in the future.

Web design — what do you need to know about the process?

As you already know, web design is one of the web development stages. Web designers work closely with front-end developers, who are responsible for developing the so-called “client-side” of the application. You need to understand that web design’s goal is not only to make your website pretty but also functional. A website or web app should feel comfortable for the end-user to navigate and use. There are multiple elements on the website that need to be thought through by the designers.

Who is a web designer?

Web designers take care of the interface, interactive elements design, navigational components, etc. It requires a lot of experience, knowledge of the trends, and best practices in terms of web design.

User Experience (UX) designer 

UX is short for User Experience, which refers to the overall satisfaction of the user after interacting with a digital product. UX designer’s job is to make sure that end-users expectations regarding using a website or web application will be met and that they will be able to use it efficiently to make the most of it.

User interface (UI) designer 

User Interface (UI) designers are focusing on the interactive elements and the way that the end-user will interact with them. They work with input controls (like menu, buttons, forms on the web page) and try to design the best methods to navigate through the website. UI designers also design informational elements, like notifications, pop-ups, etc.

Graphic designer and visual designer

A graphic designer’s job is to create wonderful, unique graphics that will represent the business values important for the brand. Visual designers are specialists who have the skills of all graphic, UX, and UI designers, so they can help you improve the entire design of the website.

Who is a web developer? 

Web developers are programmers who leverage different programming languages and technologies (such as frameworks and libraries) to build a fully functional website or web application using designs created by web designers. They turn an “idea” into the actual product. 

Front-end developer

Front-end development is also called “client-side” development. Front-end developers code all the components that the end-user will interact with, such as text styles, colors, images, buttons, navigation menu, etc. They use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and often leverage front-end frameworks. The two main goals of the front-end developer are first to ensure that the website responds to certain actions of the user (for example, move them to the subscription form after they click the “subscribe” button). The second is to make a website responsive, so the visual side of the website adjusts itself to the screen of the user device and works properly on it. 

Back-end developer

Apart from the client-side, your business website also needs a server-side. It is created by the back-end developer. It includes elements, which the end-user cannot see, such as databases, servers, etc. The efficiency of the solutions they choose and the code they write results in the high performance of the website or web application.

Full-stack developer

One man orchestra — the full-stack developer is capable of developing both front-end and back-end of the web app or website. IT specialists experienced with both types of development understand well both the challenges of client-side and server-side development. 

Web designers and web developers — when should you consider outsourcing their services?

Each developer has favorite technologies, tools, and methods for developing a highly performative website or web application. The best web designers know everything about the newest trends in web design. Companies often leverage staff augmentation to ensure the success of a particular development project. Web designers and web developers outsourcing is a good choice if:

  • you don’t have a proper specialist in your in-house team for the web development project, but you also don’t want to hire one on a full-time project as it will be limited in time,
  • you hire some web designers and developers, but you need a more experienced IT specialist to manage the project,
  • you want to leverage modern technologies, and you need an expert with specific or rare skills.

Our developers and designers support our customers in various projects. Contact us, if you are looking for web development talents to enhance your in-house team.


cto - Chris Gibas

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