What is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

what is website design and development

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Have you ever wondered, “what is web design vs. web development?” Or, what is the difference between website design and website development?

There is a distinct difference between the two.

As a business owner, it is important to understand why you need a website in the first place, and then how websites break down into web design and web development.

Your website is a place for potential customers to contact you 24/7/365. Where else can you find a salesperson that works 24 hours a day, is “always-on”, and doesn’t require health insurance?

Having a website also:

  • Saves you time: Your website can provide answers to common customer and prospect questions and inquiries. This means that you can be spending your time on more valuable tasks.
  • Maintains control of your brand: A website acts as a platform for your messaging that creates the online perception of your business. You can also use it as a place to display your best reviews and testimonials. Showcasing this social proof can help sway your ideal audience to make the decision to spend their money with you.
  • Helps you compete with the big dogs: Having a website gives you a fair chance to compete with the giants of your industry. An optimized website can rank higher and be in the right place at the right time. Bidding for the right keywords can increase your website traffic, influence your customer’s journey, and help you to possibly outrank your industry Goliaths.

What is web design?

Website design includes both the principles of design — balance, contrast, emphasis, rhythm, and unity — and the design elements — lines, shapes, texture, color, and direction.

Think of website design like interior design. The web designer brings together all the visual elements, making sure that everything looks good, works well together, and provides a positive user experience.

what is website design

Your website’s design and user interface can drastically affect your user experience. Not only should it be visually appealing, but your website should be designed with your brand style and target audience in mind. It should take into consideration accessibility, your customer journey, and fulfill the wants and needs attracting your customers to your website.

Good design equals lower bounce rates, longer time on site, more leads, conversions, and sales. 

What are the current trends in web design?

Like everything else in marketing, there is an ebb and flow in the popular trends in web design.

Right now, you see things like:

  1. Flat Design: Rather than relying on shadows, bevels, textures, and gradients to communicate a 3D look, flat design uses typography and colors to distinguish one design element from another. This results in a ‘flat’ look that puts the emphasis on functionality rather than on style.
  2. Parallax Scrolling: One of the biggest trends of the moment, parallax scrolling is when you create the illusion of action by moving the background at a slower rate than the foreground. You can see a great example of that with the Cultural Solutions website. As you scroll, you can see how some circles appear to be moving quickly and some are barely moving. That’s what parallax scrolling looks like. It helps give flat design more depth.
  3. Fixed Header Bars: If you are familiar with Excel, this is just like freezing a top row of cells. Fixed header bars keep the header in sight at all times. This means that if the menu is part of the header, the visitor doesn’t have to go all the way back to the beginning to get to your ‘about’ or go to ‘home’. An example of fixed header bars is here on the Handcycle City website.
  4. Large Photo Backgrounds: High-quality photos get attention. Websites can take advantage of this by placing captivating photos accompanied by just a few words, placed above the fold. The home page of Savannah Dream Safaris website uses a large photo background.
  5. CSS Transparency: CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), is what designers use to determine the look and formatting of a document. Then, transparency is added. Here, on Buffalo Lumber Community website as you scroll down under the social media buttons, you will see a moving gallery of beautiful photos, each with a description displayed via CSS Transparency. This option allows for sites to feature what would be otherwise distracting text without detracting from important information.
  6. Infinite scroll vs. Lazy Loading: As the name suggests, infinite scroll gives an unlimited stream of content to the user. The page starts populating more content as soon as the user reaches near the end. Lazy Loading only requests the resources when they are demanded. This request is done via things like “back” buttons or “load more” buttons.
  7. Bold Typography: Just as the large photo backgrounds use beautiful photography to attract the visitor’s eye and highlight the company branding, bold typography has the same benefit. Attention-grabbing fonts, usually in neutral and simple scripts, done in extreme-sized typefaces can carry the “wow-factor” to win over most visitors.
  8. Responsive layouts: Responsive web design, isn’t so much a trend—but a must. Responsive web design (or RWD design) describes a modern web design approach that allows websites and pages to display by automatically adapting to all screens. Whether it’s a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, RWD keeps images from being larger than the screen width. Web visitors are much more likely to bounce from mobile sites that are difficult to navigate and don’t look quite like they should.

What is website development?

After the web designer does their thing the web developer uses their special tools and programming languages to turn it into a functional product.

what is website development

There are two levels of web development:

  1. Front-end: This is the link between design and the back-end. In this phase, the client interface is set up and prepared for connection with the server. Programmers use things like HTML and CSS to assemble the layout and assign certain styles to text and images. JavaScript is also used to make the platform responsive and user-friendly.
  2. Back-end: This is the portion of the website invisible to users. Programmers ensure fast and accurate request and server data transfer. Smooth transfer of data is extremely important if you want visitors to register accounts, make online payments, post comments, or any other targeted actions on your platform.

Languages used in back-end development are things like PHP, ASP.NET, SQL, and MySQL.

Website design impacts how your audience perceives your brand. It is the appearance—colors, fonts, images—and the layouts.

Website development is all of the work behind the scenes. It is the magic the visitors don’t see that helps a website work fast, perform well, and provide a seamless user experience.

Both are important to improve user engagement and experience, reach more customers, increase conversion rates, and grow revenue. If hiring a web designer and developer to create a custom built website is not in your budget, consider working with a web designer that specializes in building WordPress websites using a lightweight, SEO friendly theme like Astra.

Looking for some help?

You are in the right place.

Our team at Klever Strategies provides a full range of affordable web services, including website design AND website development.

Klever Strategies helps small business owners gain clarity on their business goals. We help with the implementation of digital marketing strategies, including SEO-focused website design, and fine-tune these strategies to replicate what works year after year.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase the product or service. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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