The Difference Between Web Designers and Web Developers

Understanding the Differences Between Website Design and Development

Website design and development are vitally important to businesses of all types and sizes today. It has become increasingly important for businesses to present the most attractive, user-friendly and helpful website to their potential audiences. “According to the latest trends, 38% of people will leave a website if it has an unattractive layout and content.” This statistic alone should be enough to encourage you to hire a professional web developer and or designer for your site. 

But what is the difference between web design and web development? Aren’t they the same thing? 

The simple answer is no. Website design is a completely different process, with its own set of best practices, and requires an entirely different skill set than website development. For those of you outside the digital marketing space, you likely know there are distinct differences between the two, though you may or may not fully understand what they are. You may also think the differences are not significant enough to mention or care about, but you would be wrong.

Why the Difference Matters

Understanding the difference between web design and development is more important than you may think – especially to a small business owner or entrepreneur. Why? Because knowing the difference is crucial to know what to look for in an agency that offers website design and development services. 

Let’s say you’re a small business owner, looking to update your website to ensure that it better aligns with your messaging and business goals. In most cases, you’ll need to work with a website designer and a developer to get the best results. While some developers are designers, and some designers are developers, most web professionals tend to focus more on one or the other. 

To get the best web design results, you’d rather work with someone who is more focused on design, right? And vice versa. So let’s talk about the differences between the two, and how they work together to make a functional and beautiful website.

How Are They Different?

Of the two terms, “website design” is more often misused. The term has evolved to include a broad range of services, many of which technically fall under those performed by a web developer.

Website Design

Again, let’s pretend you’re a small business owner, and you need a new or redesigned website. You want to establish or update your logo and brand colors. Maybe your website is visually unattractive but dWeb Developer vs Web Designeroes contain a ton of useful information. But information is only useful if people can stand being on your website long enough to read it.

A visual web designer typically focuses on creating a visually pleasing design for the front end of your website. They are the ones you go to for a new or fresher logo, as well as to come up with the most user-friendly layout for your site. They are skilled with making websites look good from the moment visitors land on your homepage, but they should also be able to design in a way that complements your brand’s vision.  

The web designer’s job is to create a design that will deliver a positive and memorable customer experience for everyone who visits your site. This is done by designing with colors that are pleasing to the eye, and building an interface that is easy to use and interact with, intuitive to navigate, and caters to the needs and preferences of the target audience. 

Website Development

Once the website design has been clearly established, the web developer comes in to build the design into a functioning site. Some web developers focus on front-end development, while others specialize in back-end development. Of course, there are some tasks which both types of developers perform, but they generally focus on one or the other.

As you might imagine, a front-end developer’s role is to build the visual aspects of the site with appropriate coding. Using coding languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript and more, the front-end web developer will create the structure of the site, and apply appropriate design coding to the entire user interface. When a website involves more complex functionality, there is also a need for a back-end web developer. 

A back-end developer is tasked with building all of the complex coding required to make different functions of the website work properly. They may need to build in-depth databases, add payment processing functionality, or perform other types of programming to allow for interactions on specific web pages. They are the ones who build form pages, e-commerce shopping carts, and other applications required to meet the needs of the customer. 

Sometimes, back-end developers may need to build a new tool or application customized specifically for a customer, if there isn’t already something that fits their needs. For a comprehensive explanation of website development, check out GoDaddy’s Website development 101 for small businesses.  

What Type of Agency Do You Need? 

The WASP Barcode 2016 State of Small Business Report states that “54% of small businesses outsource website and graphic design.” Unfortunately, many businesses make the mistake of thinking they only need either a website designer or a website developer, when in fact, in most cases, you need to look for an agency which offers both. While there are some instances where either a designer or developer only is required. This is usually for small and simple website projects requiring little functionality, or simple design updates.  

However, even if you are just in the branding phase right now, you will eventually need to back that up with a nice-looking, highly functional, user-friendly website. It becomes far less complicated if you begin working with both from the beginning. Plus, an agency that has invested in hiring experienced web designers and developers often cross trains their team, so that they can use a more collaborative approach and deliver better results. 

No matter what your goals and challenges are for your business and website, working with a team of professional web designers, developers and strategists will help you achieve better results, faster.

Are you looking to work with a highly qualified web design agency in Boston? Contact SMILE media today.

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Lisa Leslie
A writer by nature, Lisa has a way with words that captures her readers' attention and drives them to action. She has intuitive writing and editing skills, in addition to 10+ years of experience in traditional, digital and social media marketing. When she's not writing, you'll find her enjoying the outdoors with her family.

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