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

Should you hire a web designer, or a web developer? What exactly is the difference between the two? Read on to learn the difference between web design vs web development.

The number of websites online right now is rapidly approaching 2 billion. This comes as little surprise given that the internet’s growing audience is shifting their spending habits from brick-and-mortar retailers to online stores.

Therein lies a tremendous opportunity for small to medium-sized businesses. Companies that are willing to invest in a quality website now have access to a growing consumer base. This base spends almost 500 billion dollars per year on products and services

If you have already started trying to figure out the best way to get your organization’s website created or upgraded, you’ve probably heard two terms used pretty frequently… Web Design and Web Development.

In order to make sure you get the product you want, it’s important that you understand web design vs web development differences. Helping you come to that understanding is the focus of this article.

What is Web Design?

Web design is traditionally a term used that encompasses the “design” aspect of website creation. This means that any of the visual elements of a site, from your website’s layout to its color palette, would fall under the purview of a “web designer”.

The following are a list of common tasks handled by web designers.

Graphic Design

Do you have a pre-existing website that needs a layout reconfiguration to refresh its look? Are you designing a website 100% from scratch? A web designer can provide graphic design services to achieve a variety of the tasks involved in that process.


Your website’s logo, color palette, and where your brand name is on your pages is integral. It gives you the ability to create anchors in consumers which will allow them to recall your brand more readily.

A web designer can help you optimize all those elements. That service should translate into more returning visitors and better brand trust.

Wire Frames/Mock-ups

Web designers are essential when it comes to your site’s pre-planning process. Are you trying to present redesign options to other members of your organization? Or are you trying to get pitches on the vision of multiple designers for your new website? Mock-ups will give you a good idea of how your website could look.

Calls to Action

The positioning of the elements on your website that make you money or moves visitors further down your sales funnel can make your success. These elements are called “calls to action”.

Web designers have insight on where calls to action should be positioned on your site. That insight should boost interactivity and increase your company’s momentum towards its goals.

What is Web Development?

Website development is used to describe the more technical side of website creation.

A web developer is specially trained in a variety of coding languages. These languages typically include JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

The website creation paradigm is shifting from custom, hand-coded products to content management system products (templates that run on WordPress, Joomla, etc.). Because of that, coding is becoming increasingly less necessary to building functioning sites.

Still, you may need elements of your website customized to better serve your target audience. If so, you’ll want to make sure that the developer you’re working with is comfortable with code.

Below are examples of activities commonly performed by web developers.

Leveraging Web Languages (HTML, CSS and JavaScipt)

Classically trained web developers can leverage website building languages to build you a fully customized and optimized website from scratch.

Sophisticated content platforms make needing from-scratch websites less necessary for smaller businesses. But the flexibility that being able to build a website from scratch affords a developer allows them to leverage their skills on a smaller scale. That means you can rest assured that you can make any small tweaks you need to make your product shine.

Customizing Your Content Management System Product

Are you working with a template on a platform like WordPress? Most templates are functional out of the box, but they often lack the uniqueness your business needs to stand out and maximize your online presence.

A good web developer can work with your template to make style adjustments. They can even add in important integrations like Google Analytics, Mail Chimp and more.

Web Design vs Web Development – What’s the Big Difference?

To summarize our answer to the question of web design vs web development… When you’re looking to address design components of your website, you’ll traditionally look to hire a web designer. If you’re looking for someone to code and make your website function, you’ll want a web developer.

With that said, people that brand themselves as “web designers” often provide development services as well. That’s also true the other way around.

This turns the whole web design vs web development question on its head.

For that reason, always discuss your needs with the person or group you’re looking to hire for your web project. Allow them the opportunity to advise on how they can help you achieve your goals.

Wrapping Things Up and What to Do Next

Web designers and web developers are both important to the process of building excellent websites.

These excellent sites can boost your brand. They can increase your sales. They can ultimately help you create a more future-proof foundation from which to grow your company from.

Are you looking for a website creation, optimization, and marketing agency in the Indianapolis area? If so, our team at Higgens Media has you covered.

At Higgens Media, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide small and medium-sized businesses with a one-stop shop solution for all of their web needs. We’ve helped organizations just like yours achieve their full potential. That means an optimized online presence that translates into more revenue.

Let us take our expertise and create the same results for you.

Learn more about our website creation services. Then, contact us today with any more web design vs web development questions and for your free, full-service consultation and quote!

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