Even though the terms have become interchangeable in casual conversation, when you break each one down into the specifics, they’re quite different. If you’re looking for a new website, knowing the difference between a web design agency and a web development agency can save you a lot of time.
The Quick Difference
The main difference is web design refers to a website’s look and feel while web development handles the interactivity and functionality of the site. It’s what is designed for the user to interact with, but without any of the interaction elements. Using color, space, and other graphic design principles highlighted below, designers create an aesthetically appealing website for users to visit.
Web development is the coding or programming that allows users to click and navigate from page to page. Think of it as the director behind the camera; it’s always there but in a good movie you’ll never think about it. The same thing goes for websites.
As stated earlier, web design focuses on the look and feel of a website and it’s supporting pages. A web design agency will likely have a professional graphic designer (or team of them) working on logos, color schemes, branding, and any content you’ll be producing to make sure it adheres to your tastes.
Software such as Adobe Photoshop is a key ingredient to producing quality graphic design services. Adobe has multiple software programs that allow designers to integrate into every step of their process to make sure they adhere to these 8 principles of graphic design:
Alignment – Makes for a clean and organized design that makes content much more digestible for users by creating a clear connection between elements.
Hierarchy – Refers to drawing attention to the more important aspects on a page by changing the style of elements. For instance, making the previous word “hierarchy” bold creates a hierarchy.
Contrast – Draws user attention to important elements through differences in size, color, thickness, and/or style.
Repetition – Keeps the website organized and consistent by tying different elements on the page together. This a key aspect in establishing a strong brand in the minds of your users.
Proximity – Refers to grouping elements together or keeping them apart to create a logically organized page.
Balance – Refers to the visual flow and stability a website offers a user to create an experience that is easy to digest.
Color – Sets the mood for the user and is essential to tying all the elements together on the page. Colors should be consistent to reinforce brand identity.
Space – Helps highlight the important information on the page by limiting distractions for the user.
If you think about a web design agency being responsible for the site you see, a web development agency is responsible for the site you use. Web development deals with the functionality of your website, and makes the designed pages come to life.
Developers work with different coding languages such as HTML or PHP to break down the design into a dynamic, interactive website. They’ll write code (also referred to as programming) in a text editor where they’ll structure the back-end of your site.
For businesses that are constantly producing content, a web development agency may turn to a Content Management System (CMS) such as Wordpress to build a website faster without sacrificing functionality. This would give the client easy access to their content without having to learn any complex coding languages.
Which one is better?
Neither. As you can probably tell after comparing the two, it isn’t exactly comparing apples with apples. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for your design and development needs you should look into hiring an integrated marketing agency, or an agency that has a team for both. Going this route will give rise to a website that was developed as it was designed and will provide your users with the best possible experience.