Web Design vs Web Development

7 Minutes time to read
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Since 1991, when the first-ever online resource was launched, a lot has changed in the web design and development industry. The process of site-building has not remained the same: the close relation and importance of both web design and web development advance heavily.

By now, there is a wide range of roles and skills needed for site creation. Therefore, not to let you get lost among them, our agency, which offers corporate website development services, has prepared this guide for you.

Here, we will look closely into those roles and uncover distinctive features of web designers’ and developers’ work. But before, let’s take a look at some basic definitions.

What is web design and development

The terms “web design” and “web development” can be used interchangeably since they both refer to the process of website creation. Yet, they are not the same. 

Web design forms the overall look and feel of a website or a web application. It’s a vast process that includes planning and building numerous web components, from layout and fonts to graphics and images.

Meantime, web development is more about the functionality and maintenance of a website. It’s more like the work behind the scenes since a great-looking website is nothing if it can’t work fast and efficiently while performing seamlessly to make users’ experience excellent. 

Why do you need a web designer or a web developer

It’s not always easy to realize whether you need a web designer or a web developer, and it’s important to know how to make a website building process quicker and easier. If you’re not sure which specialist you need, check out our suggestions.

Hire web designers when you need:

— to design any web page’s layout;

— to create or change your website branding;

— to make sure all your web elements fit together;

— to edit photos or videos;

— to design mock-ups.

Hire web developers when you need:

— to design user interfaces and navigation menus;

— to write (and review) website codes;

— to build a new contact form;

— to create or test a mobile app;

— to fix server or hosting issues.

However, you should remember that both web designers and web developers can do much more than suggested above. To explore the peculiarities of their roles and responsibilities, we’re going to explicitly examine them down below.

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Design vs front end development vs back end development

To make it clear, let’s settle that there are elements users can and cannot see when it comes to website creation. Design determines the colors, fonts, images, and layout of the website — all the things that create its branding and improve users’ usability. Tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch are always necessary for the design. 

Front end development requires the usage of coding languages such as Javascript, HTML, and CSS to carry out the design. Without the coding languages, there would be no buttons, contact forms, text, and navigation menu, and users wouldn’t be able to interact with the website. 

Both design and front end development elements are visible for users, but it doesn’t apply to back end development. A website can’t exist without a back end to store and organize the huge amounts of data that goes through the front end. For instance, when users fill out a form with their personal information, they are doing it through the front end. But only the back end can keep that information safe on a server. 

Thus, both the front end and back end of any website are always communicating and making sure everything works smoothly and harmoniously together. 

The role of a web designer

It doesn’t come as a surprise that even though web designers can be responsible for numerous tasks, their main role is to create spectacular visuals of a website. The layout and various web elements should not only look good but also be user-friendly to leave a great impression on visitors. 

It means that caring only about the layout structure isn’t enough for web designers. They should also consider conversion rates while designing elements that’ll make users stay longer on a website.

It’s important for any web designer to be aware of the current trends. Standards rapidly change, so high adaptability is simply necessary these days. Moreover, research is always involved when it comes to web designers’ tasks. There are website briefs, contracts, and proposals, and it’s vital to meet both client and users’ expectations while working on those. 

Sometimes, web designers also create a site structure and a mockup that can be tested by coding the website by web developers. There are also such things as post-launch services that require web designers’ skills to provide maintenance and content creation after the project’s launch. 

Web designer 

Now that we know what web designers leading tasks and goals are – let’s talk about the differences between their roles.

  • User Experience (UX) designer

The user experience designer is responsible for fulfilling users’ needs. To put it simply, a UX designer’s job is considered to be well done when visitors can easily and effectively use the final products (websites, web apps, etc.) and get their expectations met.

The UX designer should know how to create user personas, develop prototypes, and perform user testing. They’re typically proficient in designing user flows, wireframes, and information architecture.

  • User Interface (UI) designer

The user interface designers are focused on the external appearance of the website or application. They create graphics and illustrations and use typography to increase the display of their product.

There are multiple interface elements that can be divided into different groups. For instance, there are navigational components (icons, tags, search fields), input controls (buttons, drop-down menus), and informational components (notifications, progress bars).

The UI designer must-have skills are profound knowledge of color theory and typography, design approaches, and responsive design fundamentals. They should be able to know how to design UI elements and interactivity and use design and prototyping tools.

  • Visual designer

Visual designers’ role is no less important and can be perceived as a mixture of user interface and graphic designer. Nevertheless, it’s a separate function, which is aimed at making sure that the final product looks appealing. 

Visual designers usually have a distinct understanding of branding, while their responsibilities include elements like typography, spacing, layout, imagery, and so on.

Technologies and tools commonly used by web designers

Having a set of practical, effective tools is essential for web designers. Not only do they make their life easier, but also they save a lot of time that can be spent performing other tasks. 

The biggest concern for most web designers is the increasing amount of web design tools available in the market. In case you’re looking for one and not sure what exactly you need, we made up a list of the most popular web design tools that you can find useful.

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The role of a web developer

There can’t be a vivid, fully-functioning website without web developers. Their role involves not only constructing the website but also maintaining its core structure and providing ongoing support. 

Web developers’ work is more technical. It demands prolific knowledge and skillful employment of advanced coding and programming languages. Web developers are also responsible for configuring the server and databases on the back end, along with integrating numerous user-facing features. They are the ones who perform testing and fixing with the post-launch problems as well.

While web designers can be called the artists that plan and create, web developers are those who put them into practice and make sure everything is working steadily and efficiently.

Web Developer

Just like web designers, web developers have their own roles with different responsibilities. Let’s look through them and clear everything out to have a better understanding of the specifics of web developers’ work.

  • Front end developer

Front end developers create elements that are visible and meant for interactions with users. It can be images, buttons, text colors or just colors, navigation menu, and so on. Front end developers use HTML, CSS, JavaScript for their work and make sure everything on the browser screen is responsive. The main goal of their work is to provide great performance on devices of all sizes. 

In summary, front end development is more connected to web design than back-end development, although it still requires great coding skills. 

  • Back end developer

Back end developers are naturally proficient in programming. They usually utilize complex software languages (including C#, Java, SQL) and work with the website’s core. 

Unlike front end development, their work cannot be seen since it requires coding on the web services and databases. They’re also responsible for testing and fixing bugs before launching the product. Their meticulous work and profound knowledge of numerous programs provide users with qualified, functional websites. 

  • Full stack developer

A full stack developer is an expert with knowledge of both front end and back end development specifics. They’re specialized in all areas and can work with various layers. In other words, full stack developers can design complete websites and web applications.

Technologies and tools commonly used by web developers

Having a solid, well-balanced toolkit is crucial for any web developer in order to be ahead of the game. While front end developers create an attractive and clickable website, back end specialists ensure its server, the database, and the server-side applications behave accordingly. 

Below you can find a list of the commonly used tools popular among web developers that may help you maintain all the necessary technical requirements. 

How do web designers and web developers’ portfolios differ

It doesn’t matter if you’re a web designer or a web developer — your portfolio is what can help you to move forward faster than ever when compiled correctly. A proper portfolio is a perfect way to showcase your skills and experience, whether you create it for clients or potential employers. 

There are different services you can use to show off your works, and the one you choose should not only be practical but also suit your role. If your goal is to get absolute maximum results from making a portfolio, you might want to think about creating your own website. Even though it requires some effort, it’s highly beneficial.

Having a personalized website means having total control over the way your skills and cases are presented. No one will be able to interfere or distract your future clients. However, if this option doesn’t feel right for you now, try the following services. 

Behance and Dribble are the best options for web designers. By using them, you’ll be able to show your proficiency in graphic design, artistry, and color schemes. GitHub is one of the most popular services for web developers. It’s perfect for showing your ability to refactor and abstract the code that’ll be coherent to other developers. There are also services like AWS (cloud-based, Amazon Web Service) and Heroku that can display static websites and web applications created by developers.

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Web designer and web developer salary trends

One of the most popular salary-related questions sounds quite simple: who earns more, web designers or web developers? The answer to that is a bit more complicated.

According to numerous surveys, web developers generally earn more money. Nevertheless, it depends on different factors, and your skills are the key to that. Your title doesn’t always reflect your salary, and even the salaries of web developers with different roles can substantially differ.

Web Designer Salaries

Even though the salary of web designers depends on their experience, skill sets, and location, it’s generally sufficient. For instance, the average yearly salary of a US web designer is about $67K.

Different sources suggest different salary ranges, but the one thing that stays the same is the fact that UI/UX designers make the most of it. While UI designers make between $44 and $128k per year, UX designers earn between $50 and $128k per year. 

In general, UI/UX designers earn about $83k per year.

Web Developer Salaries

The salaries of web developers can also differ in terms of their specialization. They are considered to be paid more than web designers since their work demands the ability of writing codes in complex languages. Nowadays, coding is a highly esteemed skill, so it’s not really a surprise. Still, diverse programming languages come with different prices.

As a rule, the US web developer earns around $70k per year. While front end developers make $70-$75k per year, the back end ones earn a little more, about $100k per year.

The average salary of full stack developers in the US is around $90.5k per year. Since there aren’t a lot of them, their earnings can considerably vary. 

And yet, the most basic rule about the salary ranges stays the same: the more you can suggest as an expert, the more you’ll get. Technologies change every day, and to earn more, you need to be able to adapt and keep on adding new skills to your portfolio.

What is the no-code movement: its benefits and drawbacks

The no-code movement is a modern trend popular among users that don’t know how to write code but still want to build online things. It offers a possibility to complete tasks that require coding knowledge without its actual acquisition. The tools themselves generate code in the background and are meant to help if engineering resources are limited.

For the most part, the no-code movement is highly beneficial for web designers. It allows them to create websites visually without having any programming skills. One of the most popular services that are used for it is Webflow

However, web designers are not the only ones familiar with the no-code movement. For instance, users with no programming knowledge can try Ada to create Al chatbots or Zapier to connect multiple apps. Using no-code tools comes with a few benefits that can be really helpful for web companies. 

  • No-code solutions assist different teams (from marketing to operations) to create their own tools. No one can understand the issues of any team’s work better than its members, so it’s only wise to allow them to build the needed tools.
  • Since no-code tools can help build multiple assets, there is no need to wait for the engineer’s help with every form or app. It significantly speeds up the whole work process and allows to launch projects much faster.
  • There is another advantage of the ability to complete projects without assistance, and it’s a reduced price
  • Due to the newfound opportunity to build and modify different tools, teams and individual users can freely test their ideas. Once they’re successful, they can start using the discoveries for their own good.

Nevertheless, no-code doesn’t mean that data engineers and coders are useless. Even though modern tools can help with some tasks, complex things should be handled by professionals. It means that even though the no-code movement is quite beneficial, it still can’t replace real experts. Instead, it allows them to focus on more difficult and rewarding tasks in order to reach new heights without permanent distractions.

Web designer vs web developer: what lies in the future

It’s no wonder that technology is always changing and nothing ever stays the same. The job of web designers and web developers demands the ability to adapt to the ongoing changes and make the most out of them. Therefore, the experts’ skills essential today will substantially differ from those required in ten years – just like the focus on visual elements that have shifted more towards functionality over the past decade.

It’s hard to predict what’s coming next, and there is always a possibility that both web designers and web developers will unite. Even now, there are numerous tasks that can be done by either of them with the help of no-coding tools. So, it wouldn’t be really a surprise if one day a whole new “hybrid role” appeared. 

The only thing that we can say for sure — technology evolves every single day. Users without technical knowledge are now able to create online products with the help of different services, and all the online experiences will probably get more and more accessible within time. Thus, it’s only natural that all professionals in the field have to evolve too.

On a final note

The web design and web development industry is rapidly changing and improving, entailing more and more experts into its depths. Although both web design and web development refer to the website creation process, their field of operation is not quite the same

In this article, we determined the main differences between web designers and web developers’ jobs and revealed the peculiarities of their roles. We uncovered the salary trends in the industry and mentioned the most popular tools that experts find useful. Nevertheless, we’re always ready to help in case you have any questions. Contact us right now to get your answer in no time.

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