Design vs. Development: Who Do You Need on Your Website Team?

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Whether you are building a website for your small business, or you’ve been tasked with leading your company’s charge for a new online presence, the first step is understanding the terms used within the industry. While web design and website development are often used interchangeably, they are actually two separate disciplines that tend to work hand-in-hand. Read on to learn more about the key differences between design and development when it comes to revitalizing a website.

What Is Website Design?

In general, website design refers to the visual aspects of a website, such as its look and feel, color scheme, fonts used, images, and other elements of design. Web designers are tasked with evaluating the content of a website and using this information to organize the pages within the site. When designing for the web, these professionals take into account balance and contrast between various elements of the design, making sure that the most important information on each page is emphasized in a reader-friendly way. They strive for clean, consistent navigation in which some elements of the design remain the same throughout the site, creating a sense of unity that helps ground the user.

What Is Website Development?

Website development, on the other hand, is the programming work that goes on behind the scenes once a design is completed. This involves using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other programming languages to bring life to the image files created during the design process. Often, developers will take the static images and add interactive elements, such as links, buttons, images, slideshows, and other features that make it easy and fun for users to explore the site’s content. Sometimes, this role is further differentiated into “front-end” and “back-end” development. The former focuses on coding the visual design, while the latter is responsible for building out more advanced features on sites that require them, such as e-commerce shopping carts, forms, and other functionality.

How Do Design and Development Work Together?

It’s helpful to think of design and website development using an automobile analogy. If design describes the car’s red paint, sleek silhouette, and bells and whistles, development is the engine that makes the car go–the parts of the site that are “under the hood,” so to speak. While many professionals specialize in either website design or development, others consider themselves “hybrids” who are experienced with all facets of creating an exciting, useful site.

When you’re shopping for a website professional, understanding whether you need a designer, developer, or both can help the project run more smoothly, keeping it on time and on budget.finding a team with skills in both design and development, can help the project run more smoothly, keeping it on time and on budget.