What Is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development

These days, the terms “web design” and “web development” are generally used synonymously. While they are very different, many people continue to confuse them. Most will search for “web design” when they actually mean web development and vice versa.

If you find yourself confusing the two, you’re not alone. The world behind designing, building, and managing websites is confusing and can be challenging to understand if you aren’t familiar with it.

To help you better understand the difference between web design and web development, here’s a comparison guide that can even help you determine which one your business actually needs.

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What is Web Design?

Web design revolves around the aesthetic, visual aspects of your website. Web designers use applications to create an aesthetically pleasing website for your customers to interact with. However, web design isn’t just about photos and colors.

Web design also includes the physical layout of your website and how to navigate it. In addition, designers ensure your website is integrated with top-notch user experience (UX) and has an attractive user interface (UI). Without web design, your website won’t provide your users with a pleasant experience.

It’s a web designer’s job to use design software like Figma and Adobe XD to complete their work. Most web designers create the building blocks that web developers will use to complete your website. The work done by web designers is what developers use later on and acts as the front face of your business.

What is Web Development?

Web development revolves around the technical aspects of website building that require coding knowledge. Web developers work with programming languages like HTML, CSS, Python, and JavaScript to create a powerful website. The work done in web development brings your website to life and ensures that it is fully functional.

Within web development, there are two subcategories: front-end and back-end. Both types of developers will work with programming languages, but each has slightly different goals.

Front-end developers link your web design to the web development process. They build the user interfaces and add animations, text, and images to your website. They also create the flow order of your webpage and focus on ensuring your website is functional.

Back-end developers are more focused on the behind-the-scenes of your website. They take care of server data and requests. The programming languages used in most back-end development are PHP, ASP.NET, and SQL, but they will vary from developer to developer.

How Do I Know if I Need a Web Designer or a Web Developer?

Not all web designers are skilled web developers, and not all web developers have the skills to be web designers. It can be challenging to find a single person or agency with both skills. If you hire a web designer when you need a web developer, you’ll have some problems as they have different skill sets.

To determine whether you need a web designer or a web developer, here are some things to keep in mind.

Choose Web Designers If…

You need graphic design

If you already have a website and need some graphic design work done on it, a web designer should be your go-to choice. They’ll be able to complete the work for your website, and no coding will need to be done.

Web designers are like visual designers and regularly work with graphic design and logo design. If your website needs some touch up or you want to give it a new look, a web designer may be right up your alley.

You need to update your website’s design

Perhaps your website was built a few years ago and hasn’t had regular design updates since. As web designers need to stay up to date on the current trends, they’ll be able to update your website to keep it aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Web designers can advise your business on the new trends and implement them without hurting your UI design. They know how to take advantage of the popular designs used by significant companies and apply them to your own website without making it look like you copied and pasted right off of Google.

You’re starting from scratch

If your business has never had a website before and you’re hoping to change that, a web designer should be your first point of contact. They’ll draw up the blueprint for your website that will then be handed off to a developer. Without their input first, though, you’ll be flying blind.

Web designers create the first blueprint for your website. Think of them as the architect in a building project. Without their work completed first, the construction can’t begin. If it does, there’s a greater risk for something to go wrong and the development process may move slower and encounter more delays.

Choose Web Developers If…

You need to build your website

If you’re working on bringing your website to life but already had a design blueprint, you’re ready to talk to a web developer. Web developers will be able to take care of the actual building process of your website as soon as you have the design established and laid out for them to follow.

The actual building process of your website includes the coding and programming. You’ll need a web developer for this as they’re the ones that use HTML, JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL.

You need a way to manage data

For websites that receive a lot of server data and requests, you’ll need to develop a strong and powerful back-end. A web developer will help you out with this from behind the scenes.

Back-end web developers build your website’s backbone with programming languages like PHP and MySQL. This in turn helps your website manage and process data that may or may not change. For anything that requires a user to create an account, fill out a form, or save something from your site, you’ll need a strong back-end system. This is where web developers will come in handy.

You want access to previous website versions

Sometimes you need to go back and restore previous versions of your website. Web developers tend to use multiple versioning tools that make this possible. With these tools at hand, you can continue developing and editing your website while still having something to fall back on if needed.

You may never turn back to old versions of your website, but you never know when something could go array. Having the possibility can give you an ease of mind and pave the way for future developments.


If you still aren’t sure you understand the difference between web design and web development, that’s alright. Any developer or designer will be able to point you in the right direction.

Often, agencies like ours have skilled experts who can cover all your web design and development needs. As full stack developers, we have the expertise to take charge of your website’s visual elements while focusing on the UI and other back-end components. Give us a call today and see how we can help you build your website.

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