Web Design or Web Development: Which Do You Actually Need?

Although the terms are often used interchangeably by a lot of people, web design and web development are two very different aspects of a big job. It is rare to find someone that can both design and develop a website

Web Design

Typically, web design comes before web development. Before you can actually build a website or an app you need a design to refer to. The design accomplishes a number of different things.

When a design is combined with a functional specification document it gives a develop a visual understanding of how the data structures and architecture of the app or website need to relate to one another. Although a specification is the main reference for a developer it does not, and cannot, say everything about a particular project.

A design will determine the final look of a project. It is the final reference point for the front-end developer. Without a design the front-end developer is going to find it very difficult to keep things across the site consistent and it is almost impossible to visualise what you are building.

Clients also find a design extremely helpful. Developers tend to see things in black and white code, clients are more visual and need to actually see demonstrations of the functionality and the end result before they will sign off on a concept.

Web Development

Web development is what makes your project come to life. Without web development, web design is just a pretty picture. The developer is the person that will actually code the structure and functionality of your project. Whether it is a static website or a complex application that all but makes coffee (or maybe it even makes coffee).

Developers will work in code and watching their screen can be very overwhelming for a non-developer. Code can look like a bunch of gobbeldy-gook, but each character has a meaning and a purpose. It is up to the developer to make the application or website work as quickly and efficiently as possible and so give the user the best possible experience.

Each website or application project needs to make use of both web design and web development. The two must work closely together to make sure that a project is a success. A great developer without a great designer can create a fully functional and efficient application that does not attract users and does not give a good experience to users simply because the user experience has not been taken into account properly. Even the most beautiful design needs a good developer to make the application else the data structures and architecture will be unwieldy and clumsy and the project will not work optimally.