Web Development vs Web Design: Why You Need Both to Make Your Site Go

Here at DCD, web development has emerged as a very popular need among our clientele. After all, in the information age, it’s hard for a business to thrive without some sort of website, and it’s important for that website to be running as smoothly as possible at all times.

However, when people think about web development, what they’re usually thinking about, at least in part, is web design. The most likely cause of this is probably because all the average browser sees is the website itself and none of the coding that goes into it, so it’s easy to lump the two aspects together. Additionally, the two aspects of site creation are closely related, and a number of web designers are often developers as well!

So  what is the difference between design and development, and how do they work together to make your website attractive and high performing?

Web Design: Making your site shine

Web design is typically focused on the public face of a website. Web designers work closely with their clients to put together a design that best suits their client’s needs, vision, and expectations. It’s their job to carefully craft the look and feel of the website by sifting through fonts, color schemes, and design themes to find the perfect combination. This may also include creating graphics, logos, and branding for a website, so they frequently use programs such as Adobe Photosphop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver.

Web designers are also responsible for creating a user-friendly layout. Not only does the web design have to look aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to be easy to navigate as well. When designing a webpage, a good rule of thumb is to allow browsers to find the information they’re looking for in the fewest amount of clicks possible. This means that designers need to have good organizational skills and a feel for content placement.

Once a web designer has put together a model of the website, a web developer’s job is to take the model, and to turn it into a working website. They’re the under-the-hood kind of people, taking the elements of the webpage’s design and breaking them down into individual components. A web designer may design all the buttons on a page, but it’s the web developer’s code that makes that button work. This part of web development may share some overlap with web design, especially if the designer is fluent in CSS or HTML, but there is more to it than that.

Infographic about the evolution of webdesign. Image courtesy of carrington.edu
Infographic about the evolution of webdesign. Click on it to see more! Image courtesy of carrington.edu

A Web Designer:

  • Focuses on look and feel of a website
  • Is competent in color scheming, graphic design, and information flow
  • Creates a great user experience
  • Uses design programs like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver

Web Development: Making your website go

Infographic about a web developer
Infographic about a web developer’s job. Click the image to see more! Image courtesy of skilledup.com

Web developers, sometimes simply known as programmers, are also in charge of web server-side scripting and database management. Web server-side scripting involves creating a framework that allows the database and the web server to communicate with a web browser.

Using languages such as JavaScript, ASP.NET, and Python, developers embed scripts in the website that enables the site to display set images or information when a browser takes a specific action. These images, files, and other information are all stored on a database, which is then connected to the web server. Some of the most popular databases for web-based applications are Oracle, Microsoft SQL, and Apache.

For brand new websites, a team of developers may be needed to set up all the background processes necessary in order to get a website running smoothly, but once the web server is configured and the database connected, a single developer working part-time should be sufficient to keep things on track.

A Web Developer:

  • Creates the inner workings of a website
  • Manages the back-end systems vital to a website, such as the web server and database connections
  • Turns the user interface created by a web designer into a functional webpage
  • Is competent in relevant programming languages (PHP, .NET, Python, C, Ruby)

The Bottom Line

While it’s easy to break web design and web development into a dichotomy of creativity vs logic, that perception is not necessarily true. Both aspects are necessary to create a functional website, and what’s more, a lot of designers are also developers, and a lot of developers have embraced the art of design. It’s becoming an in-demand skill set, as developers with designer backgrounds make great project managers, and there are a lot of websites, like WordPress, that enable designers to create amazing websites with some backend knowledge. The important thing is making sure the two sides of web development are communicating clearly and working together in harmony as the lines between developer and designer become blurred.

2017-06-06T14:02:34-04:00June 9th, 2016|Current Technology, Tech Blogging|

About the Author:

Andrew is a technical writer for Deep Core Data. He has been writing creatively for 10 years, and has a strong background in graphic design. He enjoys reading blogs about the quirks and foibles of technology, gadgetry, and writing tips.

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