Website design vs website development
“Form follows function—that has been misunderstood.
Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
The terms web design and web development are often used interchangeably, but they are two very different things. Most people simply use the term web designer to describe both functions.
These days, it’s pretty easy for anyone to use a prebuilt WordPress theme to create a reasonable design and avoid the necessity of having any real coding/programming skills. Top it off with the vast number of available WordPress plugins, and just about anyone can create a WordPress website.
That’s fine, if you really don’t care about the look and feel of your site, and aren’t concerned about updating themes and plugins or trying to fix them when they break.
But if you’re the type whose business is worth more than a cookie-cutter approach, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with real designers and developers. Web designers typically aren’t programmers, and web developers typically aren’t artists.
Anyone can create a design, but few can create art.
A web designer is primarily focused on the aesthetics—the look, feel, and user experience—of the site. To pull that off, a designer should have education and experience in graphic design, especially print. Without that, their ability to create a design that’s a true reflection of your business is questionable.
A true designer is more of an artist than a technician, and should have a keen understanding of colour theory, typography, proportions, usability, and the use of whitespace. The designer should have the artistic ability to enhance, not dominate, the content, and bring your brand to life. If they don’t have all these skills and experience, they’re not designers; they’re technicians.
However, web design and web development don’t cover everything that’s needed for a website to accomplish the owner’s goal of growing the business. There’s also a role that could be called web architecture—understanding the brand of the business to guide the design, structure, and content for the website.
Without this planning function, the designer and developer will be working in the dark, each making decisions that may conflict with the overall objectives of the website.