Is Web Development the same as Web Design?

web development
image by issued under CC-BY

There is much confusion over the terms Web Development and Web Design. Some people believe they are interchangeable. They are completely different skill sets and experience in the use of technology. Web Design is all about services at the front end of the website. The design and development of a responsive web design. Web Development is all about the back-end of the site; it is the engine of a website.

Without web development, a visitor could not navigate around the site. They could not make a purchase or benefit from a database.

Web Development is all about how the Web works. Take this website as an example. What you see before you is the result of a whole gambit of technology all working together. Website Development is all about creating an adaptive website viewed on any medium a searcher uses from PC to a smartphone. Some of the most important parts include:

The language of the Internet, HTML.

When you type into a search engine a request or click on a link, this is the coding that IS used to tell your browser where to go.

If you want to view the HTML for a Website page, right-click your mouse button and select “View Source” from the menu. A page will open which could look a total mismatch if you do not understand HTML. But every line tells your browser what to do to answer your search query.

A web developer has a wide knowledge of code, database development and all the background applications. This enables a web designer to produce with digital creative design an aesthetic front end. The majority of web designers know a little bit about HTML and Databases. Most Web Developers know how to construct the coding to enable the graphics to show in the correct part of the page

They are designing background applications but they also have to see how it can turn into a website for building a web business.

I remember my early experience of computing. Writing a word document in what was WordStar 1 was not as it is today. I could not click a button to make a word appear in italic or bold I had to write code to make it behave that way.

Strange as it may seem the Web began life at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, had a problem. He wanted to communicate and share information with particle physics researchers, wherever they were. But far from creating downloadable files he suggested you could link text in the files themselves. For more information on the history of HTML you will find a great deal of detail here, just click on HTML.

Another skill of the Web Developer is creating CSS – Cascading Style Sheets.

CSS came out of the HTML project consortium. They determined that HTML restricted how to format text. 1996 saw the launch of CSS1, it has since then become the standard for Web Design. Since the launch of CSS1, CSS has become more complicated, with the latest update CSS3 in 1999. CSS gave developers the tools to, change fonts, change the background colours and set alignment for items on the page. Many parts of HTML have been developed and moved from HTML to CSS. To learn more about CSS click on Learn CSS

Along with HTML and CSS came JavaScript.

JavaScript makes web pages more dynamic. It is amazing that its development took only 10 days in May 1995 by Brendan Eich. Eich was working for Netscape Communications. They were competing with Microsoft for user adoption of web technologies. You can see the timeline of development:-

  1. CSS could do a great deal more than HTML
  2. JavaScript can do more than CSS.

Web Development is a broad term for creating a site for e-business and marketing professionals. It can be as simple as building the coding for a single landing page. At the same time, it can be as complicated as building a multi-page shopping site or using social media techniques. The tasks include designing client-side/server-side coding and Content Management Systems.

CMS acts in the background as a link between a user and the server, using the browser as the front facing tool. CMS allows the non-technical user to change the content of their website.

So that is another skill a web developer must have in their arsenal.

Then there is Server-Side!

In the early days when you typed in a URL, the page you got back would have been almost totally coded by hand. You can imagine that developing a large site with many different pages and layouts demanded hard work. With high skill levels of the web development company.

It was not long before programmers automated regular items and processes. Generation of most websites you visit today are not hand-built by HTML but by third-party software programmes. You will know about such programmes as WordPress.

Large corporations can recruit a team of web developers. These are sometimes large teams, whose task is to develop everything in the back office. Much of it repetitive coding, but has a direct effect on the company’s bottom line profit. Smaller organisations will often outsource this work to a web development company. Or have one or two people in their web development department who could be web designers at the same time.

There are many programmes on the Internet to ease the burden of individuals and smaller companies. They cannot afford to outsource or engage a team of web developers. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have become popular as web development tools.

It is now a vital part of every e-business and marketing professionals marketing campaigns to appear on the web. These tools make it easy for anyone to create and edit their own websites.

Those using content management systems have to make a compromise between simplicity and customization.

Although they do offer an ever increasing number of applications that can help web development. They try to replace a web development team. Care must be taken by the user adding plugins to ensure they do not conflict with existing plugins and cause a failure of the total website.

The web development team of major businesses often run two websites. A private site to test any change to the back office before updating the live site. This is to prevent causing a conflict with their public site.

So as you can see Web Design and Web Development are two different skill sets. Each as important as the other. Potentially taking the smallest business onto the same playing field as the largest corporation.

To me, that is the wonder of the Web. Even the smallest of businesses can appeal to and supply a local neighbourhood or a worldwide marketplace. Web development has come a long way and there are a lot more exciting applications to come.

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