The difference between web design and web development

“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet”

So said Juliet to Romeo in Shakespeare’s wonderful play. And the relevance – just in case you were wondering – is that the two terms “design” and “development” are often used interchangeably, at least by people outside the industry, when in fact they are different and require different skill sets.

Before we look at each in turn though, let’s be clear on one very important point. If you’re a customer who wants a website creating for you, you really don’t want to and thankfully you don’t have to worry about it. You just want “the experts” to create your site for you, and you quite rightly don’t care what they’re called.

Right then, so what is the difference and why does it matter? The best starting point we’ve come across goes as follows: if web designers are the architects, then web developers are the builders. That seems easy enough to comprehend, but is it accurate? Let’s see.

Web Designers – The Architects

These clever people are not only highly creative but imaginative, and possess the very important skill of being able to take a client’s vision of what they want their website to look like and how they want it to function, and translate it into a design. They will usually think very visually, and will be skilled in areas like graphic design and information flow.

They will almost certainly be familiar with packages like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and will be the guys who listen to a website brief and bring the vision to reality. Their primary focus will be to design a great user experience – mindful not only of what the client originally wanted but how the website will best perform in practice.

They will be guided by certain design principles including:

  • balance between dark and lighter colours
  • contrast between sizes, textures and shapes to draw attention to those areas of the website you want people to look at
  • emphasis of the key part of the website page, perhaps the call to action
  • consistency of navigation – making it easier for people to get where you want them to go
  • unity being the relationship between the various parts of the layout, mindful of how the human brain organizes information by grouping

And when they’ve completed their design, they hand it over to the…

Web Developers – The Builders

These are also clever people; (noting that they may in fact be the same person!) and they also perform a translation function, but this time of a different kind. They take the carefully thought out web design and they code it into reality.

They will be competent in web coding languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript and use content management systems such as WordPress. The really clever ones are able to create more advanced functionality and applications using programming languages like Sublime, PHP, .NET, C, Ruby and so on.

The developers may also be required to create code that interfaces with online payment processors or API’s (Application Programming Interfaces).

About Mintcake

Our own very clever people are based in the gorgeous town of Kendal in the Lakes. Not only do we have incredible design and development talent, and expertise in digital marketing, and outstanding customer service … we are flexible, accommodating, proactive, creative and (so our customers tell us) “great to work with”.

Give us a call on 01539 900 200 to find out more about how we can transform your business.