web design vs web development bristol image

Web Design vs Web Development – The Difference

Web design and web development are often confused and assumed to be the same discipline. However this is not the case, however there is a blurring in the middle where some skillsets overlap.

I am a WordPress web developer in Bristol, UK. I build websites from scratch in order for sites to be truly unique and up to date, however I also sometimes design websites.

Having web development skills definitely helps a web designer and vice versa because it gives you an appreciation of both sides of the fence. When you start to also bring SEO and sustainable web design into the equation, you realise that there is a blending of many different skills in order to produce a website.

What is web design?

Web design covers all aspects of the look and feel of a website as well as the planned functionality. It details the colour scheme, layouts, UI/UX, and overall aesthetic required in order to build a website. This includes the use of graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and similar tools.

The design lays out the visual elements of the website and can be completed in a number of ways including PhotoShop, Illustrator and Sketch. This is where a cross-over exists as many web designers will have a small amount of HTML, CSS or WordPress knowledge and this will feed into the creation of the design.

There can be confusion in that some people falsely think that all web developers are web designers, but this is not the case.

What is web development?

Web development starts once the design has been finalised by the web designer. Web development involves is focused on the technical aspects of building a website, including coding and programming using languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as back-end programming languages such as PHP, Python, and Ruby.

Here is where another blending of skills comes in – most web developers will have some knowledge of the web design software as mentioned above. However, a web developer would not usually make the decisions on the typography, colour palettes and layout of the website, but may comment on the design regarding these aspects.

Web developers can be front-end and/or back-end developers. This involves making sure the site looks the same as the design to the final user (front-end) and has the software and underlying functionality in order for the website to work at its best (back-end).

In summary, web design is about how a website looks and feels, while web development is about how a website works and functions.

Do people do both?

As mentioned above there can be a venn diagram-style blurring of skills in web development and web design, or they can be completely separate entities. How much, if any, blurring depends widely to the extent that some people are fully-fledged web developers and web designers at the same time. These clever people are known colloquially as Unicorns.

Someone with both skillsets can take a project from the concept stage, through the design stage and the build stage by themselves.

Whilst this is rare, it does happen and means that clients then only need to deal with one person which can reduce costs.

So what am I?

While I have designed some websites, I call myself a web developer. Web development, particularly in WordPress, is where my skills lie. I do, however, love a well thought out, modern design and have dealt with enough designs to be able to produce my own if required.

I work in the fair city of Bristol, where thankfully there is a lot of inspiration and a great number of developers to learn from.

Some of my design and development projects can be viewed on my projects page.