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

web design vs web development


Web design and web development are two terms that are closely related. After all, both are used when it comes to website building and maintenance. But, is web design the same as web development? If not, what is the difference between the two? 

If you have questions regarding web design and web development, you are in the right place. Read on as this article will break down the differences between web design vs web development.

What is Web Design?

Web design entails the look or aesthetics of a website. It is all about creating a flat canvas with no functionality. This canvas will give the web developer a clear roadmap on how the web development should be implemented. A web designer uses visual tools such as Photoshop to create a prototype of how the final website should look. The model can be of the homepage and sometimes the internal pages of the website as well.

While web design is needed by web developers in the later stages of website building, it is also needed by website owners and other interested parties. As the owner, you will be able to visualize the presumed appearance of your website before the building process even begins. This stage provides a perfect opportunity to propose the necessary changes that the website should have, ensuring the final product is exactly what you’re expecting.

Web design is a general term that encompasses other key aspects of the design process. These aspects include:

  • User experience design (UX): This aspect of web design entails designing a website so that it is more relevant and attractive to the target users. If visitors enjoy being on your website, they are likely to turn into future customers.
  • User interface design (UI): This aspect of web design takes care of how visitors navigate on the website. The design ensures that users are able to navigate on the site with total ease.

What is Web Development?

Web development is all about implementing the functionality of the website. A web developer gives the web design prototype full life as it should. While a web designer is more interested in the looks or aesthetics of a website, a web developer ensures that everything that has been designed works as expected.

For instance, a web developer ensures that the call-to-action buttons and the contact forms respond accordingly when clicked and filled respectively. Web developers know how to use all the components of a website, such as the Content Management System. They also know how to build a website from scratch using templates or even programming languages such as PHP, HTML, and CSS, among many others.

Web development is further divided into two categories. These are front-end web development and backend web development.

Front-end development includes streamlining the needs of website consumers. A web developer will use languages such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

Backend web development addresses technical issues of the website, such as database and interaction.

However, there is a third type of web developer known as a full stack developer. This developer deals with both front-end and backend.

What is More Important – Web Design vs Web Development

Both web design and web development play a critical role in building a website. As you have seen from the above definitions, the two are entirely different job descriptions. A web designer takes care of all the aesthetics of a website. On the other hand, a developer ensures that the site meets its functional needs.

However, neither is more important than the other. You will need both web development and web design to have a visually impressive and functional website.

How is Web Design Similar to Web Development? 

Despite the glaring differences between web design and web development, some aspects seem to unite the two. One of the similarities is the two both require some level of programming. Since both web design and web development will be implemented on a website, both tend to involve some level of programming. However, web design may not involve writing a single line of code.

Do Web Design and Web Development Attract the Same Rates?

Whether you are planning t hire a web designer or web developer, one of the things that you should focus on is their rates. Which of the two is more expensive? According to the latest statics from PayScale, the median salary of a web designer in the US is $40,000, while that of a web developer is $56,000. From those figures, it is clear that web developers tend to earn more than web designers. So, it will most likely cost you more to have your site developed than designed.

When Should I Hire a Web Designer vs Web Developer?

From the definitions, it is now clear who a web designer is and who a web developer is. But, do you know the specific roles that should be performed by either a designer or a developer? To shed some light on this, here are some of the most common roles that are performed by each of the two professionals:

1. Roles of a web designer

Some of the functions of a web designer include:

  • Designing the user interface for the website
  • Adding new graphics to the website
  • Choosing fonts for the new website
  • Deciding the color palette for the website
  • Changing the looks and appearance of the homepage.
  • Creating a wireframe for the website
  • Website branding

2. Roles of a web developer

Here are the most common roles of a web developer:

  • Migrating from one CMS to another
  • Deciding the content management system to use
  • Fixing broken links
  • Ensuring that all the buttons function as required
  • Train users how to use CMS
  • Dealing with all the server-side issues.

These are just a handful of the many tasks that are performed by either a web designer or a web developer. If you hire the right person, you can be confident in the quality of the work that will be performed.

Personality Differences: Web Designers vs Web Developers

Apart from just the difference in skills, there are also some personality differences between web designers and web developers. Web design requires a high level of creativity. The designer needs to think outside the box when coming up with the design of the website. Creativity may also be necessary when blending different palettes of the website.
In the field of web development, it is the skills that count. A developer should have in-depth knowledge of the programming languages that are required. They should also have the skills to ensure that everything on the site is functional.

Key Parameters of Web Design

When it comes to the details of web design, there are several parameters that designers focus on. These are:

1. Aesthetics
As we have already mentioned, aesthetics is the backbone of web design. A design process will be null if it does not focus on the look and feel of the website.

The purpose of the design is to enable the website to create an amazing first impression. Do you know that visitors can choose another site over yours just because of the impression they get when landing on it? Yes, and it only takes the first few seconds to create the desired impact. It is through the website design that you will be able to create the desired impression you’re after.

2. Call to Action
The web design should motivate your visitors to take the necessary action on the site. Whether it is to contact the store, purchase an item, or fill out a contact form, your design should play a role in facilitating these.

How can a web design help to push a customer? One way is by ensuring that all the buttons and other vital components are visible and stand out. The design aspect of website building will take care of issues such as the visibility of the button and positioning on the website.

3. Branding
A website is a representation of your brand. So, the appearance of the website should be in tandem with your brand. It is through web design that you will take care of issues such as business branding.

Web design takes care of issues such as colors, images, and other graphic components. You will choose colors and images that are a perfect representation of your brand. When you begin web development, you will have very little time to go back and take care of your branding needs.

4. Navigation
Although this is an element of web development, it is also very important for web design. It is through the design that you will get a glimpse into how visitors will be navigating your website.

Pertinent web navigation issues such as the position of the buttons, the size of the header, the color of the links, and the type of font are all important decisions made during the design stage of the website build.

The website development will only come in to ensure that the proposed navigation components are fully functional.

5. Content typography and readability
No matter how good or elegant your web design is, all will be wasted if the content on it will not reach the intended recipients. This is one of the issues that are addressed by the web designer.

During the web design phase, clear typography is chosen for the website. Issues such as type and size of the fonts are decided. You will also select the right font colors that you think will be visually impressive to the website visitors.

6. Mobile-friendly
With the web design, you will be in a position to determine whether the site will be mobile-friendly or not. This is because some key aspects of the web design process highlight the issue of the mobile responsiveness of a website.

Web development Parameters

From the web design, let’s look at the key factors that form the basis of web development.

1. Website security
Web developers don’t just focus on building a functional site. It is their responsibility to ensure that the site is highly secure. So, even while implementing the prototype as highlighted by the web design, web development ensures that the wireframe adheres to all the security measures.

The website should be secure from different forms of cyber-attacks. Still, in terms of security, web development determines the people who are allowed to access different web pages and areas of the website. 

2. Speed of the website
Through web development, it is possible to control the speed at which the website will load. Most resources that the website will need are allocated during the web development process. It is these resources that have the final impact on the speed of a site.

Also, web development entails choosing the theme and templates of the website. Here you can choose a lightweight theme or go for the heavy theme depending on the desired speed of the site. Here is an article on our picks for the best WordPress themes for 2020.

3. Usability and functionality
Well, this is the core purpose of web development. It ensures that the website becomes fully functional. The web development process addresses all the components on the site by ensuring that they function as required. For instance, the navigation buttons should redirect you to the correct web pages. The forms should submit the correct details when clicked. This includes verifying the authenticity of users and preventing spam messages.

In the web development process, everything that had been proposed on the prototype is put to the test to ensure that everything functions as required.

4. Website maintenance
Even after everything regarding the website seems to be okay, there will always need to be website maintenance implemented. This is an important aspect of web development that ensures your website will always remain in good condition.

Whether you would like to add some improvements, introduce new features, or make any other changes, they should be done through web development.


Hopefully, you now understand the differences between web design vs web development. Despite being very close terms, the two will never be the same, and you will never use them interchangeably.

Whether you are planning to develop a website from scratch or you just want some work done on it, you should now know the difference and call the relevant person to get the job done correctly.

If you would like help with your next website, check out our WordPress web design services. We would love to help and get your website started on the right track!

About The Author

Dustin Reed

Dustin Reed, is the owner and senior web technician for Innovative Solutions Group. He started working at Innovative Solutions Group in 2011 and took over as owner in 2016. He takes great pride in the fact that he truly enjoys doing what he does best, Building Professional Websites! During his 10 years working at Innovative Solutions Group, he has been responsible for many different aspects of the business ranging from creating new accounts/domains on Innovatives server to responsive(mobile-friendly) template creation. Some of his other responsibilities/strengths are WordPress website design, CSS/HTML coding, creating visual animations using Jquery, page layout, and troubleshooting many different types of problems that may arise. When he is not busy working at Innovative Solutions Group, he enjoys doing all of the great outdoor activities that the beautiful state of Montana has to offer. Such as, fishing, camping, hiking and enjoying a day at the lake during the summer.


  1. Daniel Ellis

    Nice write-up!
    When building a website from nothing, you need a web developer to build the foundation, and also you need web designers to make it look and feel the way you and your users want.
    So that’s why both web design and web development are important. We can’t choose one from them.
    Keep sharing.

    • Dustin Reed

      Glad you enjoyed the article Daniel!

  2. Sloboda Studio

    I completely agree with Dustin; in order to have a visually appealing and functional website, you will need both web development and web design. Ease of use – a well-thought-out logic that is understandable to the user for implementing the target action is equally important for the site’s overall correct and timely operation.

    • Dustin Reed

      Thanks for the input and I totally agree with you as well.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

wordpress maintenance service and security


I have been a customer of Innovative Solutions Group since 2013. Dustin is so wonderful to work with. He is patient, professional, and very knowledgeable. Anytime I reach out to the office, they are extremely responsive and address my need VERY quickly. I can't recommend this company enough!!! I am so grateful that I am able to have a successful web-based business, because of them!!Diana FlutieJune 29, 2021
I've worked with Dustin Reed at Innovative Solutions Group now for 2 1/2 years, and am so happy I found them. I came to ISG so frustrated. I'd had my website rebuilt by guys in Pennsylvania, and they never listened to me about anything--from a logo they designed that I didn't like, but they plastered all over the site, to how the site would operate. Dustin and I sat down and within 4 minutes he'd dealt with my most important issues. He continues to be resourceful, making my site much more profitable, and if quick to respond to problems. ISG happens to be close to my home, but I would recommend them to anyone dependable, professional service.eileen ClarkeFebruary 19, 2021
Dustin is great. Quick to respond to any inquiries and reasonable pricing.Nobe Eyecare AssociatesApril 7, 2020
I have been with Dustin and Innovative Solutions for over a year now. Dustin and his company have taken my business to a whole new level. With what they have done with our website and how people find us is amazing. We have grown 10 times over because of Innovative. If your in need of the next level of success in marketing, your in great hands here. You will not be disappointed. Thank you Dustin and the team!!Troy KennettJanuary 15, 2020
Great, courteous and fast service. A very honest business that will not overcharge. Highly recommended!Doseof RealityJanuary 3, 2020
Cynthia MonteilSeptember 18, 2017
Excellent service. We have been with Innovative since the launching of our site. They not only designed the entire site with the functionality we wanted, but have hosted it reliably no matter how high the traffic spikes. I would recommend Innovative to anyone looking for a professional, reliable and very responsive team.Susan Duclos (All News PipeLine)September 6, 2017
This group is amazing to work with. We started our partnership a year ago and we could not be happier!Amber DJuly 25, 2017
Work was done in a very timely matter and Dustin was great to work with!Jacob WanderseeJune 19, 2017
I used Dustin at Innovative Solutions to initially just host my website. After working with him I decided to do a pretty significant makeover on my site. He did a great job, was super responsive and has Fletcher in the Design Department to help with graphics and such. He answered inquiries after hours and is very reasonably priced. I have used quite a few web people over the years and Innovative Solutions is undoubtedly who I will continue to use.Gary GavinJune 9, 2017
Super helpful! From the very beginning the designer was patient and offered great suggestions. Very customer friendly. They wanted the site to be perfect for me. Also, ease of billing. Thank you for creating a great site.Serapha CruzJune 3, 2017
I owned the company for over 20 years, and Dustin treats customers in a very courteous and professional manner. That why I'm going back to Innovative for help with our latest personal web project.Daniel DeiningerMay 22, 2017