Web Design & Web Development are not the Same

Many people use the terms “web design” and “web development” interchangeably but they are two vastly different terms. Usually, a great web designer is not also a great web developer and vice versa so it is important that you hire a creative agency that employs both of these roles. A quick Google search in San Francisco says that an average web designer makes $62,250 whereas an average web developer makes $85,881. Why the big difference? Well, imagine an eCommerce website. It doesn’t matter how immaculately designed it is, nothing else matters if it cannot process transactions.

Building a website is much like building a house. The architect (similar to a web designer) needs to the make the plan of the house considering the layout, structure and the functions of each room. A construction company then builds the house according to that plan (similar to a web developer) while ensuring that everything is up to code.

Web design is the process of planning and designing the look and feel of a website that determines the colors, fonts, layout, structure, graphics, images and interactive features which will deliver the pages to your website visitors. They create electronic files called mockups that dictate the aesthetics and front-end of the website. Good web designers know the principles of design, how to create a simple, user-friendly website and are proficient in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. They understand web development but they are not necessarily great web developers because it is about creativity, which is more right-brain oriented rather than left-brain oriented which is what most developers are.

One of the biggest mistakes that most budget-strapped startups make is forgoing design altogether and purchasing a pre-made WordPress theme and hiring a web developer for setup, configuration, and content insertion. While this definitely gets you a website for a fraction of the cost, it will not be very effective. Web design is about creating an emotional experience that is custom tailored to your target market. How can you possibly achieve that with a generic WordPress theme? Premade themes cost $50 for a reason.

Web development is the programming that renders the website. More specifically it is a set of HTML, PHP, Javascript and CSS files that establish the look of the website (or theme) according to the mockups and the functionality and content management of everything that goes along with it. Good web developers understand design but because they are usually more organized and systematic thinkers, they are not usually good at it.

A successful website requires both great web design and even better web development to ensure a beautiful, functional final product. A freelancer who claims to a web design and development hybrid most likely does not know what he/she is talking about. That is why your best bet would be to go with a boutique creative firm like us, who has both of these experienced roles on their team.

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