What is the difference between web design and web development? Simply speaking, the former involves graphics, site aesthetics, and layout; conversely, the latter focuses on coding, programming, and hosting.

But there’s much more to it than that. So today, we’re dissecting the anatomy of each. What does it take to be a sought-after designer or developer? What apps, skills, and talents should you cultivate? What should clients know about the difference?

What Does a Web Designer Do?

As the name suggests, web design is about a site’s aesthetic. Since designers work with the layout, they’re responsible for how the platform flows, feels, and looks.

The foundation of web design is graphic design. Practitioners also need to understand a host of creative and technical skills such as:

  • How people interact with websites
  • Color theory
  • Layout considerations
  • Conversion aesthetics and rate optimization techniques
  • Font and typography
  • Fundamentals of responsive design

Excellent communication skills are also imperative.

Exceptional web designers also have a handle on HTML and CSS, but it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t. Although, when designers are more familiar with what can and cannot be efficiently coded, communication with the development side goes much smoother.

Like all stages of the web production process, web design requires a lot of testing. Designers may go through 10 to 20 iterations — or more — before finalizing the layout and color scheme.

Client Tip: As much as we’d all love to work with people who can read our minds and instantaneously determine precisely what we want the first time around, that’s rarely the case with website design. It takes a while to get it right because tastes vary — as do peoples’ opinions from one day to the next. So don’t flip out if your designer doesn’t nail it immediately; understand that it will take a few weeks.

Types of Web Designers

Web designers typically fall into three categories: UX, UI, and Visual. Some professionals cultivate experience in all three, making them more marketable.

User Experience (UX) Designers

User experience designers make data-driven decisions about structuring websites. In many cases, they may take control of the layout and flow of the platform. UX designers engage in a considerable amount of testing and tweaking.

User Interface (UI) Designers

User interface designers concentrate on a platform’s interactions and conversions. Their contributions enhance a website’s usability and encourage people to take desired actions.

Visual Designers

Visual designers are the “artists” of a web production team. They come up with color schemes, design the window dressing, and add the aesthetic touches that make a website feel professional and polished.

Visual designers are proficient in graphic design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Web Design Tips

In the not-too-distant past, websites were busy, eye-bleeding messes. They would beep, shout, and pulsate in your face. The more “bells and whistles,” the better.

Fortunately, things have changed, and thanks to a stylistic shove from Apple and Ikea, we’ve come to appreciate the beauty of minimalistic design. Simplistic sites make the web easier to use because they don’t rattle our aesthetic sensibilities.

But simple doesn’t mean easy. Perfecting a minimalist look takes design knowledge and attention to detail.

Here are a few tips to consider when deciding on a design.

  • Keep It Clean: Minimalist designs are more appealing to users than busy ones.
  • Color Considerations: Make sure your color scheme isn’t shocking or jarring. Follow color theory rules.
  • Keep It Familiar: Your website is not the place to reinvent the wheel. Users have become comfortable with certain conventions, like menus at the top and using an “X” as a close symbol. Stick to them.
  • Responsiveness: Your website must look good on all screen sizes. If it doesn’t, Google and other search engines will lower your rank.

Web Design FAQs

Let’s peek at two frequently asked questions about web design.

How much do web designers make?

Some web designers can make as little as $250 for a basic, two-page site; conversely, art department directors at high-end tech firms could conceivably make millions. But the average web designer makes between $65,000 and $125,00 a year, depending on experience and location.

Starting out, people tend to make a bit less, usually between $45,000 and $58,000.

What are web designers responsible for?

Web designers’ purview is often much wider than making graphic art. They’re also frequently involved with:

  • Web design contracts
  • Website briefs
  • Website design questionnaires
  • Website proposals
  • Branding style guides

What Is Web Development?

Designing is about the look and feel of a digital platform; website development work is about transforming the design into a functioning website. It’s the coding, programming, and hosting side of the web production process.

Developers often keep working with clients after the site is up and running because they provide maintenance and ongoing support for glitches, security, and server issues.

What skills should web developers have?

  • Programming and coding languages, like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, Python, and Solidity
  • Database programming / SQL
  • GitHub for code versioning
  • Jira for issue tracking
  • File transfer protocol (FTP) security and functionality
  • Hosting control panel functionality
  • Frameworks like jQuery

In terms of technical tasks, web developers focus on building the code, testing functionality, debugging, and administering content management systems like WordPress. People on this end of the production team also implement on-page search engine optimization.

Web developers must develop solid communication, problem-solving, and analytical thinking skills.

Types of Web Developers

The three main categories of web developers are front-end, back-end, and full-stack.

Front-End Developers

Front-end development — aka client-side development — is the programming part of the process where the design is made manifest on a functioning website. Professionals specializing in this arena are experts in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and content management systems.

Front-end developers do an extraordinary amount of functionality testing. They’re responsible for ensuring the design implementation looks good and works on all browsers.

Back-End Developers

Back-end developers — aka server-side developers — program a platform’s database and server using advanced programming languages, including PHP, C#, Java, Ruby, and SQL, in addition to NodeJS and other server-side frameworks.

Developers that fall into this category are typically a tad more advanced than front-end developers, and clients rarely talk to them. Instead, the project liaison translates back-end developers’ tech speak into language clients can understand.

Full-Stack Developers

Full-stack developers are programming superheroes who can do it all. They’re competent in both front- and back-end coding. They know it all, from HTML to Solidity. They also set up and configure servers, code Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), query databases, and more.

Web Development Tips

Like web design, the ultimate goal of web development is to make lean, clean scripts that search bots will reward. But the most critical web development element is to ensure your website loads fast — lightning fast.

Why? Well, nearly 50% of people will click off a website that doesn’t load within two seconds. That’s how impatient we’ve become. In a phrase: slow sites will hurt you badly.

Web Development FAQs

Let’s peek at two frequently asked questions about web development.

What Are Web Developers Responsible For?

Specifically, web developers are responsible for:

  • Coordinating with the design team
  • The development and maintenance portion of website production contracts
  • Setting up a website’s hosting
  • Adding digital security elements to the platform
  • Coding and programming a website
  • Conceptualizing and implementing core functionality

How Much Do Web Developers Make?

How much do web developers make? Salaries vary widely, depending on the type, experience, and workplace situation. You can find low-end developers who will make an entire 5-page website for $500. But going that low is a risk.

On the other end of the scale, high-end, full-stack programmers can make ungodly amounts of money. But the average web developer makes about $82,000 to $150,000 a year.

Need a Website? Let’s Talk

Rounded Digital has been producing highly effective, high-ranking websites for over a decade. Our team includes developers, designers, writers, and marketers. We’re a one-stop-shop digital promotions firm and have package options for all budgets.

Get in touch today. Let’s begin the conversation and see if we’re a good fit for your needs.