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Web design vs web development: What’s the difference?

August 19, 2022

Web design and development are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they’re distinct fields with different skill sets and specialisations. Here we’ll explore the differences between web design and web development, including their similarities and how both professions relate to each other.

What is web design?

Web design is the art and science of planning and laying out the structure or format of a website (or any information resource) to achieve a particular aesthetic or functional effect. It encompasses many different skills such as graphic design, information architecture, interaction design and usability engineering, but focuses primarily on the visual presentation of content for consumption on screens.

Web designers work to create websites that are visually appealing and easy to navigate through the use of colour schemes and fonts—the tools at their disposal include Photoshop for graphics creation/editing and Shopify for incorporating digital storefronts to name a few.

What is web development?

Web development is broader than web design in that it encompasses all aspects of building websites: from conceptualising and defining requirements to coding them into existence. Web development, therefore, includes web designing tasks and programming tasks (such as developing software).

Web development can range from developing a simple single static page of plain text to complex web-based internet applications, electronic businesses, and social network services. A more comprehensive list of tasks to which web development commonly refers may include client-side/server-side scripting, web server and network security configuration, and e-commerce development.

Are they similar?

While the terms web development and web design are often used interchangeably, web design is technically a subset of the broader category of web development. Web design is a creative process, while web development is a technical process.

Web designers aren’t necessarily developers and vice versa. Web designers create the look and feel of a website, whereas web developers build and maintain the site. They both work with other team members like UX designers, interaction designers and information architects to deliver the final product.

Creativity allowance

In many ways, web design is more creative than web development; it’s about creating an experience rather than just building functionality for users to interact with online content (like we see on social media platforms). Conversely, web development requires more technical knowledge than does web design — understanding how all those different platforms work together (for example, HTML5 vs Flash vs JavaScript) takes a lot more time/money investment.

Both need a good understanding of technology

While both web development and design require a certain level of technical knowledge, the two disciplines are fundamentally different. Web development requires a higher level of understanding of technology; this means understanding how computers work and how websites are built from the ground up. Designers need to understand how people use websites to ensure those sites meet user needs. There are some key differences between being able to operate complex technical machinery and being able to fix it when something goes wrong (or even just being able to troubleshoot).


There are various specialisations in both fields. You could be a web designer without knowing how to code, but you wouldn’t be a web developer without knowing how to design websites or develop software (or vice versa).

Web designers work mostly with graphic design while developing user interface (UI) concepts and visual elements. They focus on the way things look instead of what they do or how they work behind the scenes. On the other hand, web developers work more on front-end engineering like HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript frameworks like AngularJS which allow them to build beautiful interactive websites.

Web design and development are two related but different fields that require a broad range of skills. The work in both fields can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding when you see your creation online or in person. The most important takeaway from this article is that both web design and development are constantly changing and evolving with technology.

Our web design and web development teams are always up to date with the ever changing technology so you can be sure you’re getting sound advice from the word go with your next website project. To how we can help, get in touch with us today.




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