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What Is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development


There are various alternatives to strengthen your business presence on the web. Small businesses usually prefer to play it safe and concentrate their efforts mostly on social media. Those that want to stand out from the crowd and have the necessary resources prefer to invest on their own website. This is one of the smartest decisions any business can make, especially in sectors like retail or eCommerce where having a strong brand presence on the web is essential. Nothing says that you’ve got a well-thought and strong sense of identity better than having your own website. 

As good a strategy as this is, many companies fail to build an outstanding website because of a lack of understanding of how the process to build one goes. It is a common mistake to confuse key activities like web design and web development. Although both processes have some overlaps, their differences are stronger. A key to build a great website is to understand these differences and how they complement each other. There is much to gain from understanding where web design ends and where web development begins. 

In this post we explain the main similarities and differences between web design and web development so that you can build a great website for your business. Understanding the role of each component can help draw a clear picture of the overall process of building a website and can save you lots of valuable resources along the way. 

Web Design

Web design consists mainly of those activities that give the website a great look and feel that reflects the brand. This includes delivering a great user experience (UX) and interface (UI) as well as a clear information architecture. UX and UI refer respectively to user experience and interface, that is, the user’s journey through a website and how to interact with it. This might sound obvious, but delivering a high-value experience and interface can make the difference between a regular website and a great one. Take for example Airbnb’s website. It follows basic design principles that deliver an easy way to generate engagement. 

The information architecture component of a website refers to how the information is accommodated so that visitors can easily find whatever they need. Having the information in an easy to read and organized manner can help retain users in your site. Take for example Google’s search results. Most of us take them for granted, but they are actually one of the simplest and most organized ways of delivering a vast amount of information. 

All three components must deliver a great aesthetic experience in order to satisfy even the most demanding tastes. After all, there is no use in delivering great individual design components if they do not integrate properly into something that is soothing to the eyes. 

Web Development

The development component of a website refers to the actual functioning. While the design component refers to the creative part, development focuses on the analytical one. Developers are the ones who make a website work. They translate into code the input received from designers. In order to do this, developers focus on two key activities: backend and frontend. 

Backend activities are those that are done on the server-side of a website. Whether configuring the domain or a database, a backend developer is the right person. Frontend, on the contrary, focuses on the client’s side. What the website visitor actually sees and interacts with is the result of the frontend developer’s code. 

Similarities

Before going into the specifics of how web design and web development differ, it is important to establish what they have in common. The most important feature these activities share is that they have the same goal: build a great website that will strengthen your business’s relationship with your customers. In their own way, each one seeks to align with a business’s objectives. 

Another similarity they share is that both processes are highly dependent on cloud-based specialized software, although each uses its own. On one hand, the design component uses mainly visual and creative software such as Invision and Adobe Creative Suite; on the other hand, development uses coding languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP through tools like Basecamp and Github. Although different, their dependence on the cloud and their associated workflows make them both a great fit to benefit from an agile working methodology. By doing so, both activities are efficiently integrated into one process. This way, building a world-class website can be done in a lean and cost-effective way with powerful results.

Differences

Now let’s go into the differences between web design and development. The most important of these differences is that designers tend to work directly with the client whilst developers only with designers; this is because design receives input from what the client needs while developers receive their input from what designers come up with as a solution. However, this should not lead you to conclude mistakenly that there is no interaction between all three agents. Having a good communication flow between clients, designers, and developers is actually one of the best ways to assure that your website will be delivered on time and in a successful way. Rigid boundaries tend to make it difficult for an idea to go from conception to implementation.

A last important difference between both components is the limitations each one has. Web development occurs within the possibilities of what the programming language allows. Meanwhile, designers have basically no limits other than their creativity. Thus, it is important that designers understand some basic principles of development. The same goes for developers; having a basic understanding of design principles is also useful.

Solutions

The ideal solution for a business that wants to develop its website is to hire a company that has both designers and developers working in an integrated way. Hiring an individual who has both skills is also an option, but this might not be what you need if the project is ambitious.

A qualified development partner can deliver the best of both components by using lean and agile approaches. This is the case of working with a partner like Koombea. Thanks to our more than 12 years of experience in app development, we have the expertise to build a great website. Our process focuses on a strong relationship between designers and developers in order to deliver a product the customer can be satisfied with. We are experts at using cloud-based tools, making any project faster to develop. It is our belief that an integrated approach where there is a thin division between web design and development is best. 

If you are thinking about building your website but are not sure about the best solution for you, reach out to us. Let’s schedule a free consultation to discuss what your best alternatives are. 



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