July 5, 2022


The whole website design vs web development confusion is getting worse . . . and I blame web-workers for not putting their foot down. Left to their own devices, these 2 terms – web design and web development – play tag like children.

So, let’s take a moment to clean this up. What’s the difference between website design and web development?

Funny you should ask.

If it looks good and it feels good . . .
So, you know when you look at a website or app . . . of course you do, because when aren’t you? Anyhoo, the web designer has done these bits:

  • UX (User Experience) that makes the visitor’s journey a breeze from the moment they land on your site. Website designers love making user-journey sitemaps and planning the information architecture on each page with wireframes.
  • UI (User Interface) entails building onto this work by creating the look and feel of the website. This includes typography (Font type), colours, layout, balance, consistency, buttons, drop down menus. (Quick note to UI designers: some people do like Comic Sans).

Website designers talk about Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, XD and Sketch.

When working, website designers keep one guiding principle at the back of their minds: Will this make the user stay longer? Because we all know that the longer the visitor stays, the more likely they are to do what you want them to: buy, share, turn a cartwheel.

So there are 2 sides to web design: the pretty (appearance and layout) and the easy (user friendly). Basically, if it looks good and it feels good, that’s down to the web designer.

But . . .

It’s not just about making your website look good, it must look like your brand. And it’s not just that your website must look like your brand, it must feel like it too. The UX must align with what your tribe expects from your brand.

The web designer looks from the outside in – in other words, from the user’s perspective. Now, let’s look from the inside out.

These are the peeps who speak in code.
Web developers are the magicians who transform website design ideas and concepts into a working website.

Front-end development entails programming the visual elements of a website, basically creating the digital version of the flat-2D layout design (The approved layout in PDF format).

Back-end development makes the website function properly and refrain from crashing in the middle of An Important Thing.  They’re responsible for ensuring the functionality required integrates well and that everything displays and functions perfectly across all browsers and devices. Including plugins, hosting, security etc.

The web developer also does the web maintenance to keep it all running smoothly after the website goes live.

The tools of their trade include HTML5, PHP, JavaScript, CSS3, Python, Ruby, jQuery and so on and so forth.

Have you heard of a full-stack developer? Don’t be alarmed. This is just a fancy name for the developer that does both the front-end and back-end.

This is where it gets interesting.
Most website designers do not code. Web developers do not create assets.

However . . . These two are in cahoots.

See, creative and technical are equally necessary to make a website.

Which is why it makes sense for agencies to provide both. There are also designer/developer hybrid individuals. And this, my friends is the source of much of the confusion.  Although not accurate, the terms are used interchangeably. They have become alternate ways to describe ‘the making of a whole website.’


For more tips about website redesign services, visit Design Rush for their informative article.