Web Design vs Web Development: What Is the Difference and What Does Your Business Need?
A successful website or web app consists of virtually unlimited moving parts, which require attention from the best professionals in their fields. To have a rock-solid online presence, businesses need to take care of those parts and do their utmost to deliver outstanding user experiences, add value throughout the customer journey, and leverage relevant functionality.
How do businesses achieve their goals and construct highly engaging and productive web products? When starting with a new project, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the two overlapping workflows: web design vs web development.
At first sight, these two areas have much in common, which is the reason why non-tech-savvy entrepreneurs can fall into the so-to-say definition trap. And when it comes to creating a new web-based product, there is no room for any sort of confusion or misunderstanding.
That is why in this article, we'll try to resolve any questions regarding the web development vs web design battle and organize the most crucial information about them in a straightforward and systematic way.
What Is Web Development vs Web Design in Brief?
Web development vs design comparison should start from understanding the two sides of software delivery. On the one hand, a web product should have a well-thought inner logic, lack of ambiguity, and technically accurate architecture of its components that will work like a clock upon each user interaction.
On the flip side, each piece of software needs to respond to user demands and be free of any interaction roadblocks that may put off its potential users and customers. Apart from that, a web app should be easy-to-use, visually appealing, and valuable to end users.
Taking into account the above, it will be easier to explain the differences between the two definitions. We can spot the difference between web design and web development by focusing on their areas of responsibility and how they influence the average time to build a website, app, or other web product.
Web Design Peculiarities
In brief, web design determines what users see on their screens and how each element is arranged on each webpage. It resembles the work of an architect, who draws the design of a future building before handing it to the construction agency.
Likewise, a web designer visualizes the solution's layout and aesthetics and presents it as a wireframe, a mockup, or an interactive prototype for the development team. These web design deliverables are further translated into code using one of the programming languages and development frameworks.
So the primary area of responsibility of web design is to craft the general look and feel of a web app and create well-balanced digital experiences for the end-user. To achieve the desired outcomes, web designers also:
- decide on the right color palette;
- choose illustrations;
- typography, layout, call-to-action buttons;
- as well as other visual aspects.
But the work doesn't stop at that point as it proceeds to determine conversion paths, app navigation, content layout, and much more. This work is especially important during the discovery phase and project planning.
The role of a web designer is as vital as the rest of the software development team since it deals with crucial aspects of the project. It requires strong analytical and creative skills to dig deep into the project's specifics, integrate each component into a user-friendly environment, and enable full alignment with the expectations of every stakeholder.
Web Development Peculiarities
As for the web development process, its primary area of responsibility is to make the design function the way it is expected by breaking it up into different components. Web developers use the static design as a reference to create clickable and usable visual elements. For that, they write the code using a combination of programming languages to connect server data, orchestrate databases, and other things to make it a fully functional software product.
Web developers usually deal with client-facing and server-side parts of the software alongside network security configuration, versioning, hosting, site maintenance, debugging, and support. They cover those and other technical aspects of web development, which are connected with the implementation of the actual custom web application and its components.
What Are the Parts of Web Design vs Web Development?
To make the work productive, it is necessary to ensure that web design and development teams understand the nature of each other's tasks. There are various parts and sub-categories in each of the discussed concepts. While some of them have overlapping functions, others can be clearly differentiated. Let's explore which constituents form the core of web design and development workflows.
Web Design Services
UX (user experience) design investigates the most optimal way to enable efficient user interaction with the software. It involves a great deal of research and analysis of the target audience, their demands, and behavior patterns.
UX designers suggest the best way to fulfill user needs and improve conversions by A/B and MVP testing and validating different ideas and translating them into wireframes and prototypes. As a result, they help companies architect their solutions in the best way possible to improve engagement, connect with end-users, and add value to their browsing and purchasing journeys (the latter point is especially vital if you're creating a marketplace or an e-commerce store).
As for UI (user interface) design, it is primarily concerned with the web app's layout and aesthetics so that it becomes pleasing to the eye and easy to use. In other words, the role of UI is to remove any roadblocks, frictions, or any other type of confusion from the user interface. Consequently, it contributes to better conversions, enhances brand loyalty, and gives joy to ordinary consumers.
UI design services aim to create a consistent experience by adding a uniform style and feel to web app elements:
- dropdown menus;
- search fields;
- message boxes, etc.
As the name suggests, UX/UI design is a mixture of both user experience and user interface design. This practice incorporates the best of the two worlds to ensure the chosen layout, navigation, and usability resonate with end-users and drive user engagement. Delivering an intuitive and user-friendly solution is considered a "must", so it's no wonder that it is among the global trends in business.
Web Development Services
Web development deals with complex technical tasks, which require command in various tech stacks and specialized skills in the following areas:
- front-end development;
- back-end development;
- full-stack development, which is a combination of the front- and back-end sides.
Similar to web designers, web developers have their specific roles in each area. Let's have a look at them in detail.
Front-end development implements the user-facing elements of a web app, converting static design concepts and prototypes into dynamic and responsive elements that are built upon business and functional logic.
Back-end web development deals with server-side functions, which allows web apps to process every action that a user performs on the front-end part. The output of this effort is the underlying code that connects back-end logic, APIs, and databases and enables ongoing communication with web browsers.
Using a combination of tools, frameworks, and languages, back-end developers handle behind-the-scenes processes not visible to the user:
- programming languages: Python, Java, or PHP;
- frameworks: Laravel, Django, Spring;
- databases: MySQL, NoSQL, MongoDB;
- servers: Apache, NGINX;
- RESTful APIs;
- QA testing and debugging tools;
- versioning control tools;
- security protocols.
This type of web development brings together front- and back-end parts of a website or a web application. It bridges the gap between the two major components of software creation and mainly deals with small projects without complex business logic.
Web Development vs Web Design: Key Takeaways
Although web design & development work toward a common objective and have overlapping functions, they are different by nature and have different areas of specialization. For your convenience, we've summed up the core factors that mark a divide between design and development in the table below:
As we can see from the table above, the main duty of a web designer is to translate project requirements into a visually appealing product or MVP design, which consists of user-friendly elements and attractive layouts. As for web developers, they use their strong coding skills to implement the design into each page of the web app and add the necessary functionality on the server-side.
Web design and web development are complementary fields that contribute to the creation of a successful software product. Both the activities need to be considered when you start with a new project from scratch:
- Web developers help to lay the foundation of the project by constructing the technical side of the web application architecture and implementing logic in each part of it;
- Web designers ensure that all brand ideas and messages are translated into visually appealing web pages that create a consistent user experience.
Upsilon enables you to launch a successful website or app for your business. With a proven track record of completed web development projects, our team is ready to help you both with web design and development, digitally transforming your assets and turning them into fully functional software. Get in touch with us to learn more about our MVP development services for early-stage startups and team augmentation services for growth-stage businesses.