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General Discussion

Difference between web design and web development ?

Isn't web design a part of web development? Then ,what is the back-end development (heavy programming) called ?

Also, web engineering falls into what category? Can someone clarify this stuff for me? Wikipedia just confused me more. Thanks

11 Answers

I might have stumbled across a similar question not quite long ago.
For a quick understanding let me break it up for you

Front End or Web Designing is primarily focused on how your website is displayed to the users, how they interact with it and this is based on a set of design principles. People specialising in web designing often make use of software such as Photoshop and Illustrator and other designing software that promote a good user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

Back End or Web Development is the actual functioning of the website. All the html code, php, javascript, css - styling sheet (well there is still a debate where people like to call this as a designing paradigm) goes into it. People specializing in this field are primarily focused on keeping your website up and running and fix code related issues.

A very common workflow goes like this
A designer creates a design as per user requirements in photoshop. The developer then users the resources from the designer to create a functional website.

In big companies they usually prefer to employ people from respective fields, however for a mid sized company or startups they usually prefer people who can showcase both the skill sets. If you plan to start something of your own it is necessary that you learn both.

Yes, i understand. But then, both Designing(front end) and Development(back end) are a part of what ? Where does Web Engineering fit ? Does the same categorization apply to software ? ex. Software Design(front end) , Software Development(back-end)? Isn't the "development" term used for the whole process of creating a website, web app, etc ?

Yes, i understand. But then, both Designing(front end) and Development(back end) are a part of what ? Where does Web Engineering fit ? Does the same categorization apply to software ? ex. Software Design(front end) , Software Development(back-end)? Isn't the "development" term used for the whole process of creating a website, web app, etc ?

Purvi Agrawal
Purvi Agrawal
7,960 Points

Hi Michael,

Web Designing and Web development are inter-related and dependent on each other. Web Designing is more about how the website looks when it is opened by the user. It is more about Aesthetics and Visual aspects of a website like color. fonts, page layout etc..

However, Web Development is about how the pages are linked, what page opens when a link is clicked, It is more about how the site works. It involves coding with Javascript, PHP etc. Its called backend because it is not evident to the user. While web designing results are directly visible to users that why front-end.

I hope this will be helpful!

Yes, they are inter-related that's why they both have to belong to a higher domain / field / industry. Isn't that also called web development? It gets confusing as web development can also mean programming the back end as well as all the processes and people involved in creating a website or a web app.

Purvi Agrawal
Purvi Agrawal
7,960 Points

Web Designing and Development are part of web engineering but they both are not interchangeable.

Yes, that is what i wanted to know. If Web Engineering = Web Design + Web Development than Software Engineering = Software Design + Software Development right ?

Web engineering is not just a summation of the two or for that matter even software engineering. These are two of the main aspects which are governed by their own set of principles and methods as defined in the engineering order. Other aspects like testing and maintenance principles and methods cannot be excluded.

Let me clarify this from a software development aspect given that it is my major domain.

When dealing with software of any sort the most common aspects lie in terms of designing and development.But when I say software engineering everything comes bundled into it. Its like saying Mechanical Engineering and defining car manufacturing as a part of it.

So if you want to look at it from an engineering point of view, then everything from designing, development and maintenance is included. How you treat an individual entity now is purely up to you. We could see development as a merger between design and coding but for best engineering practices they are kept separate. When we define the term engineering then ones needs to keep in mind the various methods and conceptual modelling aspects.

Now getting back to web engineering. This aspect like mentioned before deals with the entire scenario of designing, development and maintenance. Yes, they are a pert of the higher order but then again both the aspects i.e. design and development are governed by their own set of principles some of which may be common to both.

Not to confuse you more :) .. when you add the engineering concept or any higher order for that matter then comes with it the set of rules, methods and principles that govern how the sub entity within that order is to be treated.

Hope that helps. Ask again if you are not clear.

Purvi Agrawal
Purvi Agrawal
7,960 Points

Usually when a software is built, it goes through a life cycle called the Software Development Life cycle and the Designing and development are parts of it. Software Engineering deals with the whole software production or SDLC. In short, Software Engineering = Software Design + Software Development + Testing+Maintenance.

Ok thanks guys, i think you answered what i needed to know. I'm writing a quick document for choosing skills that i should learn and wanted to properly understand the names, terms and categorization of those domains.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

People in web world like to invent new terms. There aren't really agreed upon terms. The terms front-end and back-end are agreed upon because they have been around since the idea of client/server was coined a few decades back.

The term front end web development has come into vogue in the past few years. Another term web people have started using is full stack developer.

These terms are mainly about job titles, egos and web peeps talking amongst themselves and aren't necessarily used consistently across the industry. I'd be more concerned with the underlying terms, designer, developer, front-end and back-end.

If you don't write lots of code don't use the term developer to refer to yourself and if you don't design lots of stuff and have a good artistic sense for what looks right don't use the term designer to refer to yourself.