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What is the difference between web development and web design?

All bright and powerful resources that you open in your browser are the result of the painstaking work of web developers and web designers. People who are not familiar with these technologies often use designer and developer terms synonymously, although they are not.

Hearing about this, many of you have the only question – what is the difference between web design and web development? These are two different professions, but despite this, both professionals care about your experience when you visit a particular site. Sometimes all the functions are performed by a web developer if he works in a small company that does not hire designers. However, a beautiful, popular, and powerful resource requires the efforts of several specialists.

In this article, we will try to describe the difference between web development and web design.




Before creating and developing a website, application, or other product, we need to make a plan. The web designer creates the idea and layout of the future project. He also develops the appearance and behavior of the resource by correctly placing each element (buttons, links). Comparing web development vs web design, specialists in the second category are often underestimated.

The designer is the person who makes your website attractive and effective by using Photoshop for visuals and HTML/CSS for coding. But that’s not all, as designers work in several directions.


User Experience (UX) designer

If you imagine a website as a fishing rod, the main task of UX designers is to keep users on the hook. After carefully researching the product and the needs of the target audience, they will definitely create an effective and popular website that will attract more and more visitors.

In addition, the UX designer approves the site layout that provides the best user experience. The expert makes sure that navigation and use of the platform are convenient and fast.
Accordingly, if people like your site, they will visit it over and over again, which brings great results to your business.



User Interface (UI) designer

The difference between web design and development becomes especially clear when we are looking for a way to improve the interaction of visitors with the site. In this case, you need to hire a UI designer to work on the interface, embodying the complex ideas and uniqueness of your organization/company. At the same time, a specialist must combine these elements with a simple operation of the resource.

What’s the difference between UX and UI designers? The point is that UX professionals conduct research to create a solid foundation for positive user experience. UI designers work with the visual presentation of a website to capture the interest of your target audience.


Visual designer

Some professionals cannot afford UX and UI designers. So, they were looking for one specialist who can combine these two specialties, which led to the emergence of visual designers. They not only improve the experience of your customers through programming, but they also solve creative issues by building corporate product designs.

Having “universal” specialists capable of performing multiple tasks is another difference between web design and web development. Positions of visual designers have become very popular because they can do what you need.



When considering web design vs web development, we also need to find out what functions are performed by developers, also known as programmers. They take finished web design and create a complete website. By dividing the design into several components, programmers use HTML or more advanced software like JavaScript and JQuery to develop your project.

Professional developers offer clients a simplified way to maintain and update a site through a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla. All programmers work in three directions performing certain functions of varying complexity.


Back-end developer

That is a category of specialists who control data and server requests. Dynamic data websites usually require back-end services. That means that users submit a form with personal information, for example, during registration or simply save an article for your blog page.

If the site needs to save the data but use it at a later stage, it will need to connect to the database. That is made possible by a direct connection from the server itself. Accordingly, the back-end developer needs to know some server-side languages (Python, C#, PHP) and write database queries with MySQL or SQL.




In other words, the task of such programmers is to create logical and functional resources using various programs. They also need to test their products and fix bugs quickly.

Front-end developer

Specialists in this category do client-side development. That will help us define another difference between web development and design. Front-end developers are more concerned with web design than with internal development to create elements that the user can see on the site.

To perform different tasks, they prefer three main languages: HTML, JavaScript, CSS. Thanks to them, developers create complete resources with various fonts, typography, animation, and so on.

In other words, front-end specialists create frameworks and elements that your customers will interact with on the website.



Full-stack developer

These are specialists who work at different levels, but we do not want to complicate their work, so we will say that a full-stack developer is a specialist who unites front and back-end technologies.

Large companies have separate front and back-end teams, and small organizations with limited budgets are looking for versatile specialists, so full-stack developers are like visual designers. They not only use back-end technologies but also design solutions that your website visitors will interact with.



These days, it is difficult for web designers to find suitable jobs with good compensation. As already mentioned, many companies do not hire specialists for this position because they are simply asking their front-end developers to build the user interface for a new website.

We found another difference between web development and web design. It is easier for a programmer to find a job, but he needs to improve and update his skills. As digital technology advances rapidly, you will need to learn new web development tools to meet the needs of your employer.




The limited number of jobs for web designers and the high demand for programmers are reflected in the salary level.


So, here is web design vs web development average salaries:


  • Designer: $10- $50 per hour.
  • Developer: $30- $65 per hour.


Remember that your salary depends on several factors. You will receive different compensation in small and large companies whose leaders also pay attention to your skills and experience. Accordingly, you will need to keep abreast of new trends and explore the functionality of new tools and programming languages.



In this article, we have covered all the key points in the work of both types of professionals. It’s time to summarize and talk about the main differences between these areas.



Defining a web designer and developer


Considering the features of the new site, the designer is responsible for the aesthetic rendering that will display all graphic elements and content. The programmer will be responsible for the technical integrity of the site, and his toolbox includes different programming languages.


Level of salaries


This is one of the biggest questions in web development vs web design topics. In 2019, Glassdoor researched and found the median annual pay for web developers is $75K per year. Meanwhile, web designers are earning $55-58K. This, of course, depends on many parameters, including your skills and location.


Web design vs web development: used tools


Programmers build websites and applications using coding languages: CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. In most projects, they use additional tools for database configuration, user authentication, and other technical elements.


Designers do not participate in writing the code, but they monitor its serviceability and correct display on the site. Since they are in charge of rendering content, they use Illustrator, GIMP, and popular Adobe Photoshop.


Knowledge and skills


It is obvious that the main difference between web design and development is hidden in the skills of both specialists. If you want to become a developer, you will need technical knowledge to write the correct code and display all the nuances. Designers create creative solutions, and they always need new ideas to build unique websites.



What is the main difference between web development and design?
The main difference is in the tasks and responsibilities of each specialist. The web designer is responsible for the visualization of the site, while the programmer makes sure that all elements are displayed correctly, and the site performs its functions.

Which specialty (design or development) should I choose?
The answer is simple: it depends on your skills, knowledge, priorities, and desired salary. It is easier for a web developer to find a highly compensated job.

What skills and tools does the designer use?
The advanced web designer uses visualization tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Depending on the complexity and requirements of the project, you will also need analytics tools.

What are the tools of a programmer?
Web development vs web design has one more difference since developers create products using programming languages like JavaScript.


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