Differences Between Web Design & Development

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Do you ever wonder what the differences between web design and development are and what kind of professionals you need to hire to build your website? In this article, we explain exactly that and the different skill sets web designers and developers possess.

What is Web Design?

Web design is the process of creating, selecting, and arranging visual elements of a website, such as the layout, colour scheme, images, and typography; which might sound like a graphic designer’s job, but graphic designers really aren’t equipped for web design because websites are built with markup and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While most web designers no longer build websites from scratch using those languages, they need to know the fundamentals, especially when they intend to customize the system or framework they use. Additionally, websites need to be responsive and user-friendly, as they are user interfaces hosted on the Internet. Therefore, the goal of web design is to create visual interfaces that are engaging, easy to consume, and use. Most importantly, business websites need to entice users to take some sort of action, such as to inquire or purchase something.

Web design using Elementor page builder.
Even though websites are often built with page builders nowadays, a web designer still needs to know HTML, CSS, and sometimes JavaScript to customize webpages.

What is Web Development?

Web development is creating the programming logic behind a website, like the back-end, and its integration with other software or systems. Most websites nowadays run on pre-built Content Management Systems (CMS) and plugins, so developers no longer need to develop everything from scratch. However, pre-built systems and plugins have limitations and may not satisfy the unique business needs of individual organizations. Therefore, web developers are still required to know some sort of web programming languages, such as JavaScript, PHP, and .Net. They also need to be proficient in software testing so they can catch and eliminate bugs before going live.

WordPress web development using PHP
Web developers may need to program additional features using languages such as PHP or .Net.

Why do you need both?

If websites are vehicles, web design is the process of designing the vehicle’s look and its control interfaces; web development is the process of engineering the vehicle so that all components work together seamlessly. Building a website with minimal functionalities using a pre-built CMS and theme may not need a web designer or developer, but it would look like a cookie-cutter website. If you’d like to customize the look and feel of the website, you need a web designer. And if your site requires additional functionalities that the CMS or existing plugins cannot handle, then you’ll also need a web developer to develop the features. So if you want something truly custom, you would need both a web designer and a developer working together.

What about Full Stack Web Developers?

A full-stack web developer is someone capable of building a website or application from beginning to finish, front end to the back. While most web developers are capable of writing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and can build a website’s front end, it does not mean the result will be visually pleasing or user-friendly. Full-stack web developers exist, but good ones are few and far between because web design and development require very different skill sets and personalities. It’s like expecting someone to be a good artist and scientist simultaneously. And if you find such a person, be prepared to pay top dollar.


Now that you understand the differences between web design and development, you’ll know what kind of professional you’ll need to hire for your website project. Of course, the easiest way is to hire a web design company like us, as we have the expertise in both areas to bring your website to life.