If you find yourself confused as to the difference between web design and web development then you are not alone. ‘The Truth is Out There’ but rather than you spend hours researching online, here is our take on the differences with all of the work done for you, explained in a way that you will understand even if you are not a tech wizard.

What is the difference between web design and development?

The difference between web design and website development are quite wide. Although they both cover the front end look and feel of your website and user experience, web design is actually the design and visual process of creating a website, where as web development is more the coding such as PHP, CSS or jQuery that brings the designs to life and makes them display correctly on a browser and allow a website visitor to click and interact with the design.

To help explain why they are not the same, ask yourself a few questions such as:

What do you think a web design company does?
What would a web development agency do?
Are they both carrying out the same role and can the words ‘designer’ and ‘developer’ be interchanged?

The answer is no, as although they may sound similar, they are not and each role is completely different when compared to the other.

The best way of understanding this is to look at each of the descriptions individually.

Web Design

Great web designers in Birmingham have the talent and the ability to take your ideas, including the visual side of things and turn them into real-world designs that result in your own bespoke website. Everything comprising the website’s look, feel and content will be down to them. Just as an architect or designer would create a plan of a new house for you, having listened carefully to your ideas, dreams and thoughts, so a web designer does the same thing. A good web designer will take the time to fully understand what you want before they begin interpreting and developing your website. It’s all about listening intently, getting a detailed idea of how you want the site to look and then building into this all that is necessary to create a great user experience for your site visitors. Very often underrated, the skill comes in taking a brief and then turning it into an attractive design with an interface which attracts the user and encourages them to visit time and time again. Only when a full design strategy is applied from day one can a web designer carry out their job effectively.

An easy way to understand exactly what a web designer/web design company does (or the web design services that they offer) is to understand that they take your brief, either written or verbal, and transform this into a design that will be used throughout the whole of your website. Here are just a few of the skills that they may need to bring into play:

Use of specialised software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to create the layout and the design.
Ability to bring to life brilliant new designs for the site as well as company logos.
Put themselves in the user’s shoes, making the site easy to navigate and visually appealing; this will encompass everything including the layout, images, text and general design scheme.

The best web designers have a natural artistic flair and creative talent that they can apply to the latest and most valued design trends. Keeping abreast of what web giants such as Google and Facebook are looking for in terms of design consistency, they can make the whole environment of the website easy to use and navigate and friendly on the eye. The client’s brand and image also need to be incorporated into the design. As far as the content or text for the site is concerned, this is frequently provided to the web designer by the client so that it can be incorporated, often making use of the skills of an experienced copywriter.

It is more about focusing on what the user will see when they visit the website via their laptop, tablet or mobile rather than what goes on behind the scenes i.e. the mechanisms and technical programming that run in the background, making the whole thing work. By the clever use of colours, images, layout and typography they bring the company to life in a digital way, providing a great user experience for all of their customers. Some web designers may be able to work on programming using such platforms as JavaScript, HTML or CSS as this enables them to create working mock-ups. Also extremely popular are template services such as WordPress which can be used by both web designers and developers to create websites using pre-made themes and widgets; this negates the need to use code so is incredibly in demand by clients who like to be able to take control of their own finished website and amend content.

Web Development
Now we get into the nitty gritty of the website and the stuff that we never see; this is all about the code/programming that makes the site work, divided into front-end and back-end. This is what the role of a website developer encompasses.
The front-end deals with how the website will look from the viewer’s point of view, displaying the design created by the website designer. The back-end or server-side deals with all of the data within the database that serves the site and that is eventually displayed. A lot of the front-end development work can cross over with the job of the web designer and usually encompasses use of the following:

HTML, CSS or JavaScript
CSS pre-processors

Web developers that deal with the front end will not usually get involved with creating visual mock-ups or the choice of colours of designs; this is solely the role of the web designer. The developer has to bring the mock-up of the site to life, understanding precisely what the designer intends and using the right technology to create the final look and feel of the website for the client.
So there we have it – the main difference between web design and web development; this does not mean that people will not use the two descriptions at the same time, often saying they are seeking a web developer Birmingham when in fact they need a web designer or vice-versa.

The cross-over
Whereas most web developers will focus on coding or programming, because this is split between front-end (client side) and back-end (server side), some will specialise in one or the other with some also having a combination of skills.

It makes sense for a company looking to have a website built from scratch to find a company that can multi-task and get involved in both the design and the development; this way they will not need to communicate with two different teams nor get involved in the crossover of information. Whereas very large web development companies may divide the work up between departments, smaller and more personal companies will often possess all of the skills required to create a website, doing the job of both designer and developer. As well as being skilled designers they will often have the ability to use HTML and JavaScript and have enough skill to be able to work on page layouts as well as graphics.

A new branch of web development is today app development and something you may wish to consider should be looking to capture the attention of mobile users.

App development isn’t for everyone though and a mobile app, as well as the process of outsourcing app development, is very different to a mobile website.

Whether you are looking for someone to re-invent your website, giving it a fresh new look or the building of a website from scratch, think carefully about whether you need the services of a web designer or a web developer in Birmingham. If you find a company that can do both, then you will find yourself saving time and money as you will only have to communicate with one skilled expert.

There are lots of terms related to the design & development of a website and they get interchanged a lot.

Just remember that your web designer, whether that be a web design company, web design agency or freelance web designer all do the same thing. They are designers. They will create the visual aspect of your website, balance all your colours, buttons and call to actions and if done correctly have a full user journey mapped out.

A web designer will often create all the visual elements of your website for both desktop & mobile designs.

A web developer, web development agency or web development company, what ever they want to be known as are the left-brain thinkers who take the designs and convert them to fully developed and functional websites.

The developers that you work with may have a design department, but often designers and web developers are not the same people as one is creative and the other is logical.