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What is the difference between Web Design and Web Development?

Maybe you are one of the people who don’t really know the difference between a web designer and web developer. Maybe they seem like the same thing to you. I am here to help you to understand the difference between the two.
Michael Jacobsen
25 January 2017 - 10:00
Category: Web
Web Designer vs. Web Developer

The terms "Web Design" and "Web Development" are used by many people interchangeably, but the two do have very different meanings. If you are looking into getting a job in the web industry or just looking into hiring a professional to build a website for you or your company, it is important to know the difference and what skillsets come with them.

Web Design

Web Design involves creative thinking. It is the process of getting into a clients' head and to realize their vision. Then take this vision and turn it into an aesthetically pleasing and artistic design that is to impress a large potential viewership. Tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver are part of the arsenal. It is also common for to have knowledge on slicing images, writing (X)HTML, styling with CSS and copywriting. One can think of Web Designers as creative experts.

Web Development

Web Development come in two part being front-end development and the other being back-end development. Some of the skills used in both do overlap but they have completely different purposes.

Front-end Development is taking the visual design of a website, done by a web designer or maybe even by the web developer themselves, and building it in code. Front-end Development makes use of HTML (structure the website), CSS (style the website) and JavaScript (create functionality). Some small websites usually only require front-end development, but for more complex websites back-end development is required.

Back-end Development deals with more advanced programming. It is usually used when wanting to interface with a database or created features that require the exchange or saving of data. Back-end development usually makes use of Server-side scripting languages such as PHP (Linux environment) or C# "C-Sharp" (Windows environment). It also involves the understanding of web form, how different software packages and API’s (Application Program Interface) can be used to connect to these different packages.

What about doing both?

Some web professionals specialize in a certain area, but you do get the once that have knowledge of both. It might be a person who is more comfortable with the visual designing using programs like Photoshop, but do have  knowledge in the use of HTML and CSS to create basic pages. Having this knowledge is very helpful as it can make you more marketable in the industry and that you can do a better job overall.

Web designer who know how websites are build will be better at designing those websites and experiences. The same is for web developers who have a basic knowledge about design so that they can make smarter choices when coding the website.

So, which one should I choose?

Going with my personal option I would say that one has to start with web design. It helps with learning the fundamentals of any form of web-related work that is required to do the job. After that if one feels comfortable or maybe the design aspects isn't really what one wants to do, go on with web development. This process might seems very long but think about the fact that you now have the knowledge of web design and through that your changes in the industry are better.