Is web design the same as web development?

When people search for web design services online or discuss the topic with friends or colleagues, they generally use the blanket terms ‘web design’ or ‘web designer’. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this terminology, there is a distinct difference between a web designer and a web developer, which if you need a new website can significantly impact the results you achieve.

There is often some crossover between the roles of a web designer and a web developer, with a web designer having some development skills and a web developer some design skills. In addition to web development and web design services, there is also a third type of agency that doesn’t specialise in either area, usually called website implementers.

Let’s take a look at each of these three different types of web development and web design services, so that you can make an informed decision about your online business needs.

What is the role of a web designer?

A web designer is concerned with the aesthetics of a website, how it looks to online visitors and how they interact with the website. They discuss design decisions with the client and often use Adobe Photoshop to create a draft layout and mock-up for the website. They decide on the general layout of the website and bring together all the site’s visual elements, colours and fonts, so that the client can actually see how their finished website will actually look at the end of the project.

A web designer specialises in designing the front end of a website and once it’s complete and signed off by the client, this design is handed over to a web developer. Up to this point the web design has been a mockup in Photoshop, now it needs to be created by the developer using code.

Some agencies who offer web design services are also skilled web developers, but more often than not, they only have a limited amount of skill in web development, being able to use some HTML and CSS to customise different elements, but not to create a website. Having this limited amount of knowledge about web development is very helpful however, because knowing how web pages are built makes it easier to design the web pages.

What is the role of a web developer?

Whilst the web designer focus on the aesthetics of the website, the web developer focuses on creating the website from the ground up. He or she will take the initial mockups created by the web designer and actually create the website using a variety of different codes.

For example, a web developer may use JavaScript, HTML and CSS to create the visual styles and layout of the website. To create the functionality of the website, a web developer will use more advanced code such as PHP to create the pages, as well as integrate different software with APIs to create solutions that meet the client’s online needs or even design and create online tools if none already exist. For example, they can create ecommerce pages and connect them to an online shopping cart and payment gateway, create brand specific forms, price comparison tables and much more.

Whilst a web developer specialises in taking the design of a website and creating a fully functional online website, some also offer highly skilled web design services. Most however, usually have enough design knowledge to make smart choices when coding a new website.

What is the role of a web implementer?

Over the past few years, web implementers have become far more common online. These are small agencies that offer a limited number of web design services, because they don’t have a high level of web design or web development skills.

These agencies often create websites by simply downloading WordPress or another similar content management system, then downloading additional themes and plugins to install in the website. They may perform basic customizations of the design, such as changing colours, fonts and logos, however their skills do not extend far beyond this point.

Web implementers differ from web designers and web developers who have specific skills in those areas. Therefore it’s important when speaking with an agency that offers web design services to understand exactly what their packages include, what level of customisation is provided and what level of support is available if you require any custom development work.

At GO Creative, we offer a comprehensive set of web development and web design services to our clients, ensuring that they receive the best of both worlds. Our team includes web designers, web developers, graphic designers, copywriters, marketers, project managers, account managers and SEO specialists.

This range of skills allows us to develop everything from small business websites through to complex web apps and business automations. Therefore even for very small businesses who need a basic website, we are able to provide high level customisations, either during the initial project creation phase or in the future if their needs change and their business expands.


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