Websites have become central to our personal and professional lives. However, while we appreciate their value and necessity, very few people truly understand what's involved. The terms "web design" and "web development" are a prime example of this. We tend to use these two interchangeably and yet they actually have different meanings and associated functions.
There is, of course, some crossover between web design and development but also significant differences between the two. For example, web designers are more generally concerned with the front end of a website, while web development could cover either the front or back. There are some key differences to appreciate between the two.
Web designers are mostly concerned with the front end of a website. "Web design" has become used as an incredibly broad term that could cover a wide range of different elements. However, the most obvious is visual design. It's not just about making a site look good but also how users interact with it. Web designers are also often referred to as working with user experience (UX), as a large part of the job is ensuring that the visual design of the site delivers in terms of the way that the brand wants its users to interact with the web pages. A good web designer can take usability to a whole new level.
Although these terms are often used interchangeably there are clear differences between the two. If you're looking to add complex functionality to your site, web development will be the right choice. If it's a change of usability or improving the way that users interact with the interface then a good web designer could make all the difference. Either way, understanding the key differences will be crucial to achieving any changes you're looking to make.
Web development can be focused on either the front or back end of the site (or both). Front end web development is all about creating the code that represents the aesthetic design of the website. This will require the use of HTML to create an infrastructure for the website and CSS to create visual styles and layout. This is the most common type of web development and, especially if a website is simple and straightforward, may be all that is required.
Back end web development tends to be necessary where user experience on the website involves more complex interactions. It's often about delivering advanced functionality. This may come into play, for example, on an e-commerce site when looking to create features such as shopping carts that interface with online payments.
Web development may involve the creation of entirely new functionality if there is nothing already in existence that meets the needs of a business. It could also necessitate dealing with APIs and how these can be used to connect different pieces of software together, as well as an understanding of how to program CGI and scripts like PHP.
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