The terms “web design” and “web development” are used interchangeably but they are, in fact, different animals.
The Definition of Web Design
Web design typically refers to the process of designing a web site or web page layout and often includes the graphical elements on a page. The design can be developed using a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop, and provides the framework for the look and feel of a web page.
The finished product of the design does not typically contain code. Rather, the graphical representation of the web page is used by another or the same party as the basis for the code. The representation is divided into areas that can be represented by web code, and other areas that are purely graphics.
Often, web design and development firms use the term “web design” to refer to the entire development of a web site because it is the most commonly recognized term in the marketplace. However, it is important to clarify what a firm means before signing up for their “web design” services.
The Definition of Web Development
Web development is typically used to described the programming required to construct the “back end” of a website. The back end is the area of the site that isn’t seen by visitors, but which does the work required in order to present the right information in the correct format to the visitors.
Therefore, I get to claim the website designer title. I work in WordPress, so all the heavy lifting of the development has been done by coders and programmers far more advance than I. I dabble in the code as client needs dictate, though, editing elements and changing positions, but the bulk of the “back-end” code is all ready for me to take and serve up fresh with custom colours, graphics and patterns that suit the client’s business. I am fortunate to have had many great coders help me along the way via support forums and Twitter, and I relish the joy of learning how to manipulate code under their tutelage.
So be aware when you are searching for a “designer” vs a “developer”. Make sure that you are clear about what you want for your site, and make your designer/developer choice accordingly 🙂