Web Design vs. Web Development: Key Distinctions to Help Decide Which One You Need

Sam has been writing for WebFX since 2016, the year she graduated from Susquehanna University. In her free time, she likes to spend time on the beach, play with her cats, and go fishing with her husband.

Whether you just want to update your current website or build one from scratch, you might find yourself wondering what the differences are when it comes to web design vs web development. With two terms that are so closely related, it’s easy to get them confused, and when you need a specific service for your website, it’s essential to know whether you should hire a designer or a developer to get the job done. On this page, we’ll help you decide between web design vs. web development for your project, and we’ll explain the difference between the two.

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If you need a new website design or website development work, WebFX can help. We have a full team of award-winning web designers that can help take your business and site to the next level. To learn more about web design vs. web development, read on, or for a free quote on your project, contact us at 888-601-5359! Don’t forget, whether you need a web design in Minneapolis or elsewhere, WebFX has you covered.

Web design and development description

Before we dive into the differences between web design vs. web development, let’s first talk about each term individually. We also have a video on web design and development if you have a few minutes to watch!

What is web design?

Web design refers to the aesthetic appearance of your website and how the different pieces and parts work together to create a successful online space for your business. A web designer doesn’t build your website — rather, they use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to create a prototype of your home page and unique internal pages.

Not only does this give you a good idea of where your website’s design is going, but it’s a crucial building block for developers when they get to building your website. It also gives you a chance to provide feedback about the design and tell your designer what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d like to add or remove from the current mock-up. Hiring a company that utilizes both web designers and developers is crucial to creating a beautiful website.

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What is web development?

Now that we’ve talked about the role of a web designer, let’s chat about the responsibilities of a front-end developer. Whereas a web designer creates the external, aesthetic shell of your website, a web developer is the one that makes that design function as it should.

For example, if a web design features three calls-to-action (CTAs) buttons on the home page, those buttons must be hard-coded into the site to ensure that when users click them, they respond correctly. The same goes for every element on your website, whether it be a contact form, the navigation bar, or a simple hyperlink in your content. The job of a web developer is to essentially make the prototype come to life and function as a website.

Developers work with content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress or Joomla, but they’re also able to code your website from scratch using languages like HTML, PHP, and CSS.

Web design vs. web development recap

All in all, web design and web development are two completely different jobs that are crucial to having an aesthetically pleasing and functional website. So essentially, the difference between web design and web development is this: The web designer takes care of everything cosmetic, while a web developer ensures that buttons, forms, navigation bars, links, and videos work on the site. Neither is more important than the other since you need both web design and web development to make your website come to life.

Web design vs. front-end developer — which do you need?

If you’re in the market for a new website, or just want to update your current website, you may be wondering whether you need to look for a fantastic web designer or a talented developer.

First, let’s say you’re building a website from the ground up.

Your new website needs…

You should hire…
Someone to create a wireframe of your existing web design ideasWeb Designer
Someone to help you understand whether the functionality you desire is possibleWeb Developer
Someone to build out a design that you have from a web designerWeb Developer
Someone to explain the difference between CMS and HTMLWeb Developer
Someone to help you pick a color palette for your websiteWeb Designer
Someone to help you decide what your homepage should look likeWeb Designer
Someone to help you choose fonts for your new websiteWeb Designer

Now, let’s say you have an existing website and want to accomplish the following:

Your existing website needs…You should hire…

Switch from a CMS to HTML or vice versaWeb Developer
Updates to your brandingWeb Designer
Fix for a broken form or button on your siteWeb Developer
A new graphic for your websiteWeb Designer
A redirect to a page that you no longer need or wantWeb Developer
Coach you on how to use your CMSWeb Developer
Help with server issuesWeb Developer

Hiring a web design and development company

Although we’ve grouped the two in separate barrels, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to hire a web design company and a web development company. Matter of fact, we’d recommend that you hire an agency that does it all. Here are the benefits of hiring a web design and development agency:

  • They work together to ensure your website looks great and functions properly
  • They eliminate the disconnect between the design and the development team
  • They often provide other marketing strategies to help you make the most of your website
  • They give you one dedicated point-of-contact versus two or more

We recommend searching for a company that does it all, like WebFX, so that you can have a seamless experience with your web design and development strategy.

WebFX provides stellar web design and development services

If you’re looking for that all-inclusive web design and development agency that also offers a slew of other marketing strategies, WebFX is it. Not only have we won more than 50 awards for our amazing web designs, but we also have a full team of designers, developers, SEOs, PPC specialists, and more. With our complete digital marketing capabilities, we can help your new or improved website rank highly in search results with strategies like custom SEO.

We work with clients in a wide variety of industries. We’ll get to know your niche and take into account your preferences for your website design. We’ll help you develop all the functionalities that make your site stand out and ensure that it’s always firing on all cylinders.

Check out our portfolio to see some of our past designs, as well as our 863+ client testimonials. We can’t wait to get started designing and developing your website, so give us a call today at 888-601-5359, or contact us online!

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