Contrary to what most people think, web design and web development are not the same things.
If you are looking to hire a professional to work on your website, understanding the different focus areas is essential for hiring the specialist you need.
Front-End vs. Back-End: The Difference between Web Design and Web Development
You will encounter various opinions about the difference between web design and web development. The primary distinction is that designers and developers focus on different parts of a website.
Web design focuses on the user-facing portion of the site, including all the visuals. Web designers follow specific design principles to create a user interface (UI). Together, these components are known as the “front end” of the website and are what users interact with directly.
On the other hand, web development concentrates on the server-facing aspects of the site. Developers are experts in website functionality and are responsible for integrating features such as databases or shopping carts for e-commerce sites, ensuring the website runs smoothly. Users do not interact directly with these parts of the website, so they are the “back end.”
You may have also heard the term “full-stack developer,” which refers to someone with expertise in both front and back-end web development.
What to Expect from a Web Design Professional
When hiring a web design professional, you can expect them to handle all the front-end development of your website, with an emphasis on design.
A designer works with illustration or photo editing software to create and embed images, logos, fonts, and color schemes into the website. They often make a mock-up showing all the elements that will appear on the site.
Designers also handle the layout. This includes the placement of user-facing elements on the site, such as headers, navigation bars, sidebars, and content.
Some web designers also utilize tools and software that allow them to handle everything from conception to website launch.
What to Expect from a Web Development Professional
A web developer is responsible for the overall functionality of the site. Instead of HTML and CSS, they use computer languages that direct the server, databases, and other back-end elements. These coding systems include PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, and Java. Some developers also know database languages like SQL.
Web developers also need to understand frameworks, which are existing structures they can customize to create a website more efficiently.
Developers work on the technical functions of the website. They check that the databases containing important information communicate effectively with the front-end portion of the website. If someone is searching for women’s shoes on a shopping site, for example, the developer ensures the search produces the correct products from the database.
Similarities between Designers and Developers
Web designers and developers both follow similar project steps during their work.
- Designers and developers meet with clients to assess their goals and needs and come up with a plan to address them.
- They then complete the initial work on the project, either individually or as a team.
- Both finally test their work, debug it, and present it to the clients on a closed platform.
For complex projects, designers and developers often follow a specific methodology, such as Agile, to break the project into small components and debug them as they go.
Do You Need to Choose between Web Design and Web Development?
You do not always need to choose one or the other. Many agencies, like ourselves, offer both front and back-end services.
Working with a full-service web design and development professional has several benefits. They can handle every aspect of a project and ensure that both front and back-end components work together seamlessly.
Also, with one point of contact, you always know who to call if issues arise. You don’t have to figure out where the problem is to decide whether to call the designer or developer to repair it.
Finding a Long-Term Web Design and Development Partner
With this type of full-service partner, you can get a website that fits your current needs rather than investing in a site with features you might or might not need in the future.