Web Design VS Web Development: What Are The Main Differences?
Every website requires a mix of web development and web design to achieve success. However, these two terms are often used interchangeably by lay people, which can cause confusion among businesses. The fact is that web design and web development are two different services that must work together to achieve a final and positive result. If you are looking for a partner to help you relaunch your company website – perhaps to boost lead generation – it is important to choose an agency, such as JDR, with both design and development expertise.
Here are the differences between the two processes, using theatrical metaphors!
Web Design – On the Stage
Web design embraces everything that a website visitor see’s and experiences on a site. This includes colours, layout, animation, graphics etc. It’s about putting on a good show for your customers, so the goal of successful web design really begins at the level of ideal customers, or ‘buyer personas’. The web designer not only needs to be able to understand what your customer is looking for, but also interpret that in terms of your offering and brand identity. Web design involves the creation of design mock-ups backed by brand research as well as an understanding of the functional requirements of the website.
Along with your brand and business requirements, the web designer also needs to take into account the desired user experience for your visitors. What are your goals for your visitors? To purchase a product? Request a quote? Join a mailing list? The website design should reflect this goal and provide strongly embedded CTAs to encourage the right outcome. The goal here is to design a site that provides visitors with a positive user experience so that they can find what they need, quickly and easily.
Web Development – Behind The Curtain
Web development covers everything that goes on backstage. As with every successful presentation, there is much happening behind the scenes. And that’s where web developers shine. They write all of the programming that makes the features of a website accessible, from blog to shopping cart, to pop up windows and chat boxes.
Just as with web design, web development helps provide visitors with an improved experience, albeit in a different, indirect way. Where web design attracts and holds the attention of a visitor, web development’s goal is to ensure the best performance of the website so that it can continue to hold value for the visitor.
Good web development also considers both the current and future needs of a website. For example, only simple programming may be required when a website is initially launched. However, the framework must also have enough room to expand its functionality as your business grows.
Web development is no easy task; a developer must ensure that a website is functional on multiple platforms, devices and browsers. Included in the web developer’s tool box are programs covering everything from text editing to FTP programs. This job requires the ability to build new site features by manipulating code, as well as from designer mock-ups. Web developers work together with designers to resolve issues and create new features, and also are tasked with ensuring the website is always operating at optimal levels, all the while adhering to best SEO practices and standards.
Cutting Through The Confusion
Now that we’ve cleared up the difference between a web designer and web developer, it’s time to eliminate the confusion that other names can generate. Roles such as full stack, back end and front end developer may leave more questions than answers.
The full stack developer must possess all of the knowledge of the designer and developer, and is a rare beast indeed. A full stack developer is good at project managing a build due to their breath of experience, but will still require input from experts when specialised questions come up. A back end developer is mainly focused on the database and code of a website, while a front end developer is in charge of building the underlying architecture of a website, sometimes called a wireframe.
Probably the most important thing to take away from the differences between website designer and web developer is that although they are distinct disciplines, the success of each branch depends on the success of the other. An attractive business website design will not hold much value if no one is able to sign up for the company newsletter, and visitors will quickly lose interest in a highly-functional website with no personality.
The Benefits Of Working With An Agency
The main benefit of working with us rather than with a freelancer, or building a site in-house is that web design and web development involve specialised skills and training. Someone may be a ‘jack of all trades’ with a little knowledge of each, but it is more common for a web professional to specialise in one field or the other. An agency like JDR employs all these skills – often multiple specialist designers and developers – within the same team, giving you access to the full skillset at a fraction of the cost of hiring them all yourself.