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What is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

Some of my clients have asked me the difference between web designing and web development. In a nutshell, web design usually involves content creation and look and feel while web development involves creating the functionality and usability testing.

Web Design

Web design refers to the overall appearance of a website – the colors, pages, font size, font style, boxes, alignment, etc. It is the overall layout and navigation of a website. Think of web design as the interior design of your home. The entry way is styled with a grand staircase, wood floors that lead you to the living room.

Web design is the company branding and color, the right photo or image, as well as the how each of these interact with each other. Overall, web design is more the aesthetics and user experience of a site visitor rather than function (like what language to code, what commerce software to configure). Web designing tries to make a site easier to use, tries to capture your attention, and fits the site to its purpose.

Web Development

On the other hand, web development is all about the functionality and features in a website. If web designing is the interior design of your home, then web developing is the foundation, the plumbing, and wiring. Web development is about the back-end programming language. For example, web development would be concerned with what type of content management system, database application, registration and e-commerce. All actions done by a site visitor is all about web developing.

Which is More Important?

The first thing that a visitor sees is the website’s design with calls to action, company brand and logo, and ‘what to do next’ content. Therefore, it is important that the design of a website is attractive so that the site visitor is encouraged to navigate or explore the website. So does this mean web design is more important? No.

Both should be one and the same. They should work together seamlessly for the best results. After getting the attention of a site visitor, the links and pages should be functional, load quickly (which comes from code and scripts as well as the web host). If every time a website visitor clicks a link and an error appears, then design has become useless.

As with your home, what makes your home comfortable is the merging of the interior design and its foundation. Even if it is just your favorite couch and bed comforter, it works for you. But if your pipes burst or the front door sticks, you can’t enjoy it and you may consider moving if it gets worse; as you would with a website.

Can You Separate Them?

Most times, larger companies and web development company might have separate web designers and web developers. In our case, we have a web designer, programmers, and a project manager. The project manager ensures that both work together and understands the combination and how what the web designer has designed will function once coded. We employ wireframes and graphic design tools with comments to the programmer as to the purpose of each design element and how it should function. The programmer needs to know, in detail, what functionality to incorporate as the designer needs to know that they can’t just design without understanding, in detail, how that design will work.

We look forward to hearing your comments.

Christina Hawkins is the President of GlobalSpex, Inc., an internet marketing company, in the Houston, TX area since 1999. Follow her on Twitter @globalspex  or become a Fan on Facebook.

If you learned from this article, be sure to invite your colleagues to sign up for the GX Web Wire – An Internet Marketing Newsletter so they can receive similar articles in the future and download her 101 Internet Marketing Tips and Techniques Free!

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