Web Design vs. Web Development: What’s the Difference?

According to Adobe, 73% of companies say they’ve invested in web design to make their brand stand out from the competition. And it’s true: a better-looking website can have a direct positive impact on your business growth.

However, what many companies and personal brands fail to fully realize is that, for a website, function is just as important as form. In other words, it’s not enough to have a site that looks good; it’s also crucial that the site works flawlessly. Nothing will frustrate and turn away a potential customer or client faster than a website that is hard to navigate or that contains inefficient features or outright bugs. This is why web design must be complemented by equally proficient web development.

It’s the job of the web developer to make sure an otherwise sleek, polished website lives up to its promise and performs well for each visitor.

This brief guide is intended to help you understand the difference between web design and web development so that you can recognize when your company or personal website needs one or the other (or both).

Web Design

When you’re trying to determine whether you need a web designer, take an overall look at your website’s aesthetics.

Drab colors, outdated stock photography, or just an overall dated appearance are indications that your site could likely stand some attention from a qualified web designer.

Your site would also probably benefit from professional web design if your company brand has been recently updated (i.e., changes in your logo, color scheme, and even your target audience). With thoughtful application of web design, all marketing materials can remain consistent, ensuring that your company or brand produces a unified message on all fronts.

There’s no doubt about it: customers love to see a modern, attractive, clearly branded website. A polished site creates a great first impression and reassures the customer that you are offering reliable, high-quality products and services. This is where hiring an experienced web designer can be a boon to your business.

Web Development

But while a web designer can make sure everything looks modern and is consistently branded, it takes a highly-trained and experienced web developer to ensure that your website works like it was built in 2024 rather than 2014.

Indeed, whereas web design is increasingly shifting to a DIY (do-it-yourself) format, with DIY web design services popping up all over the internet, web development is likely to remain largely in the hands of professional web developers for the foreseeable future. That’s because web development is a much more technical enterprise than is web design.

For one thing, developers (aka “programmers”) must use JavaScript, HTML, CSS, PHP, and other highly technical coding languages to get your website up and running. On the surface, a properly developed website may appear to operate effortlessly, but in reality, all that seamless performance depends on an extensive, highly complex interface of code that only experienced web developers can set up and navigate.

It’s also crucial that your website (and the mountain of code on which it runs) stays up-to-date with the latest software and technical requirements. Times are changing, and according to InternetLiveStats, most of the over four billion (and counting) Internet users routinely access the Internet via their smartphones, making it imperative that your website remain mobile-friendly with each new generation of phones. Again, this is where a trained website developer is a must.

Another consideration is how constraining your website is for visitors. That is, does your site help users feel empowered by offering them enough different ways to interact with the content, or is the layout relatively static and limiting? Users enjoy and expect a measure of freedom and variation, and savvy web development can offer this interactive variety, whether through buttons, links, image sliders, accordions, the ability to sell products and services, or any number of other devices and features.

Web developers can even test possible variations in the setup of your site pages (A/B testing) so that the most effective variation can be established by experience.

Web Design or Web Development

So then, both design and development are important to an effective website.

Strong web design not only helps ensure that visitors will find your site aesthetically pleasing, it also is crucial to establishing your company or personal brand’s credibility with customers. If your site doesn’t have the right look, visitors may be less likely to take your products and services seriously.

But expert web development is no less important. Even the most attractive, polished site can be a huge let-down to customers if it doesn’t work as expected. Indeed, because proper web development relies directly on familiarity with highly technical and ever-changing components such as coding languages, servers, databases, MySQL, MSSQL, SEO, SSL, PHP, DNS, Security, FTP, SMTP, POP/IMAP, etc., most businesses are more critically in need of immediate assistance from a web developer than they are a web designer.

Ron the Web Guy

Are you in need of a capable, highly-experienced web developer? Contact Ron the Web Guy and find out how smart, functional web development can improve the user experience on your site and generate more revenue for your business or brand.

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