The internet has come a long way, and so has the process of creating websites for it. In the earlier days, the process was very linear and the roles of everyone involved were clearly defined. Design was left to the graphic and web designers, and the development (coding) was left to the very capable web developers. In some ways it lead to the next revolution, on youtube, on the net, and mostly online. 

What about today? Everyone does everything. The separation of duties is not as prevalent anymore unless it is for a large, complex project. Designers can whip up a website in the same way web developers are conversant with web design principles. Despite the overlap, web design and web development remain to separate entities. Ready? Let’s start differentiating.

Exploring Web Design

Primarily, web design is for the creative and imaginative. It covers everything that involves the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) aspects of website creation. In other words, these are the appearance and usability of a website, respectively. Web design means determining a color scheme or palette, coming up with the layout, flow, and finding the most intuitive way for elements on the website to interact to make navigation as efficient as possible. It involves choosing the font, implementing the branding if it already exists, and choosing where certain buttons and calls-to-action are placed.

As earlier alluded to, web design is a very creative process. The standard tools of trade are from the Adobe Creative Suite or other industry alternatives. Depending on a web designer’s creative process, a website is birthed on paper. Prototyping and wire framing tools are the bones that then get fleshed out with actual content. Interactive mock-ups are how the designs get showcased before development. They can easily be mistaken for functional websites, with working text fields, buttons, and animation.

What about Web Development?

Web development is the technical aspect of website creation. There are generally 3 types of web developers: front-end, back-end, and full-stack. A front-end developer is closest to a web designer because they work on the visual layer of the website. Front-end devs write the code to replicate the web designer’s final design. The back-end developer then adds the core functionality of the website. They ensure that the user’s interaction with the visual aspect triggers the intended functionality behind the scenes. Naturally, the full-stack developer can do both.

The web designer guides the web developer on what to create. A bad design, therefore, means a bad website; even though the site functions as it should. Web developers have a lot to think about: networking, data transmission, data storage, and website security are some of the key aspects of server-side (back-end) development.

A developer’s tools of trade include development programs (IDEs) like Visual Studio Code. Front-end developers dabble in HTML and languages like CSS and JavaScript. Back-end developers deal with SQL, PHP, and cybersecurity technologies.

Where They Meet: Website Builders

It is common to find the two roles wrapped up in the same individual nowadays. However, that is not where the coming together of web development and web design have the biggest impact. Have you heard of web builders?

Web builders are platforms that offer people with no coding or design background an easy way to create fully functional websites. Website builders have thousands of premade templates that can then be easily customized to create unique, professional websites. It takes web designers and developers to create these designs and features that users can then drag and drop to make amazing websites. Technically, their coming together to create web builders makes us all designers and developers!