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Difference Between Web Design and Web Development

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What is the difference between website design and website development? This is one of the most frequent question asked by tech newbies on such platforms as Quora, or simply in Google search. The general answer to this question is designers create a design (appearance) of website or application while developers write a code (program) making everything actually work.

Although general answer is understandable, it is always better to dive into the topic and discover more useful things. So in this article we will provide more details about both – web design and web development, and describe what specialists involved in those processes do.

What is Web Design?

web design

Some consider web design as creating the appearance of a web page or an app screen. At a first glance, web designer is more concentrated on everything users actually see on their screens and less on the mechanism of making it actually work.  In fact, this is only a small part of the process standing behind the page “look”. Web design requires multiple skills and might include such disciplines as graphic design, interface design, UI and UX.

In other words, production of a website is not dependent only on a beautiful appearance. There is a myth, that designs must be original. But originality does not always mean that design would be understood properly. There are already exist settled UX rules that not worth changing. If you are not 100% sure that you innovative vision would be welcomed, better don’t implement it in your work.

What do web designers actually do?

Though web designers don’t mess up with back-end development, they still care about functionality.

By the way, UX, mentioned above, stands for user experience. UX design on its part is a process of enhancing the user experience, usability, accessibility and increasing the satisfaction while using the product as a result.

For example, working on UX means designer creates the convenient navigation, website structure and labeling. Making websites understandable, accessible and fine-looking at the same time is not that easy.

What are the stages of creating a web design?

Now let’s study the steps of making a website design. As an artist, web designer begins the process with making sketches. They might be either hand-drawn or digitalized in any graphics editor. First sketches give you the general understanding of what elements are planned to be placed on each page.

When the general conception is determined, it’s time to detail each page. Generally, the websites we create have numerous pages and multiple functions, that are all connected with each other. Therefore, the next step is creating wireframes based on the preliminary sketches.

Wireframes give the more accurate visualization of the page layout. Moreover, they are the skeleton for the whole project, describing the functionality, content layout and interconnections between pages and elements.

The final step of design is adding colors, content, typography, animations and other fancy features that will make your website outstanding. Voilà!

What is Web Development?

web development

How would we explain our grannies the “web development” term? Web development is a broad term. It means the creation of any websites and web applications working all across the Internet (f.e. web portals for different business purposes). Both making the simple web page with plain text or building a multifunctional web application is web development.

Front-End, Back-End, Full-Stack – What’s the difference?

Since the web became more complicated and complex over time, developers are now more strictly specialized that they ever were before.

Generally, there are two types of programmers: front-end and back-end developers. But there also exist web “unicorns” who are called full-stack developers. What is the difference?

Front-end developer
This is a software engineer who is responsible for the visible part of a website that user interacts with. The typical programming languages used in front-end development are HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – is a core of the website as it is responsible for content and structure.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – controls how the HTML will look on the page. Using CSS developers add colors, fonts, backgrounds, and correct the content layout.

JavaScript or how it’s often called JS – makes the content interactive. This language is used both for website development and for video games production.

Back-end developer
This is a software engineer who is responsible for the “dark side” of the web page, that users don’t see. Since back-end developers usually work with such frameworks as Node.JS, Angular.JS, YII2 and such programming languages as PHP, Ruby or any other.

Because of such in-depth specialization, such programmers are not called “back-end developers”, rather according to knowledge in programming languages they possess. For example: PHP developer, Ruby developer, etc. 

Being concentrated on one or two technologies at the same time, you would more likely find a PHP-developer rather than a back-end one. In other words, developers have to choose a specialization, just like doctors do. Fortunately, it’s still pretty easy for developers to get additional inter-disciplinary knowledge and communicate with each other, even if they have different skill-sets.  

Full-stack developer
Usually, such specialists are able to code the website from scratch by themselves. But when it comes to complex solutions such as building a web application or a platform, it’s better to hire more specialized both back-end and front-end developers.
Related Topic
When it comes to app development, it is necessary to know what main types of solutions exist. Check out our article related to native, web and hybrid applications development, their peculiarities and advantages.


Since the web landscape is constantly changing, the roles of web designers and developers become blurred sometimes. Many designers understand the basic concepts of HTML or CSS, as well as developers, discovering design principles when coding websites. Nevertheless, we in Altamira, always provide our clients with dedicated teams of skilled professionals.

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