What is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

As you dive into the wonderful world of coding, you may see a lot of new terms. Many of them can sound very similar to each other, and some might even seem like they describe the same thing.

For example, what’s the difference between web design and web development?

Think of a movie like Tangled. On the one hand, cartoonists had to sketch and design Rapunzel. Their job was similar to that of that web designer. On the other hand, programmers had to make sure Rapunzel’s long hair could obey the laws of gravity and float in water simultaneously. Their job was more similar to a web developer’s.

Curious to learn more about the difference? In this guide, we’ll break it down.

How the Web is Built

First, let’s outline the definitions of both web design and web development.

Web designing is the process of conceptualizing, formatting, and composing websites. The work encompasses both appearance and functionality for an optimized user experience.1

Web development involves the operations that are required to build and maintain a website. Sometimes used as an umbrella term, web development is focused on ensuring proper functioning and performance.2

Despite there being a bit of overlap between the two in practice, there are still key differences that allow for a clear distinction.

To determine which one you’re more interested in, consider the focus:

  • Is the focus on the user experience and interaction? That’s web design. If you love experimenting with graphics, colors, fonts, and animations, web designing could be a great fit for you.
  • Is the focus on the operation and structuring of the website itself? That’s web development. If you’re more interested in the technology underlying the appearance of this website, explore the world of web development.

Next, we’ll take an in-depth look into these two complementary practices.

Details of Web Design

What is web design? Website design is focused on form and user experience. Particularly concerned with usability, compatibility, and accessibility, web design crafts the look and feel of a website. To that end, communicative and interactive design is crucial for the success of a site.

But what do web designers do?  Web designers are tasked with thinking from the user’s perspective to discover what will look best.

Some of the things that a web designer might be in charge of include:

  • Layout
  • Typography
  • Color Palettes
  • Formatting
  • Interactive Components (ex. clickable buttons)
  • Pictures and Graphics
  • Video and Sounds
  • UI/UX

What does UI/UX Design mean?

When discussing web design, you may hear the abbreviations UI or UX. Although they are related to each other, they have distinct meanings.

Here are a few key differences:3

  • UI refers to the “user interface design.” UX refers to the “user experience design.”
  • UI is concerned with the aesthetic experience. UX is concerned with structural website design and effectiveness.
  • UI creates solutions to usability problems. UX creates a visually appealing product.

The two work hand-in-hand, and web design involves both UI and UX.

Coding Languages Commonly Used for Web Design

A programming language that web design frequently uses is Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). CSS is used to refine existing content and make the functional aspects more visually appealing.

Processing—a programming language focused on electronic media art and visual design—can also be used to add detail and beautify a website.

Details of Web Development

Web development is focused on construction and function. It encompasses all of the actions and operations that assemble and maintain the structure of the website. Essentially, a web developer builds the frameworks that make the website tick.

Areas of Web Development

There are three main specializations within web development.

  • Front-End Development – Front-end refers to the visual aspects like layout and interactivity.
  • Back-End Development – Back-end refers to the “invisible” aspects that keep the website running, such as database management and applications.
  • Full-Stack Development – Full-stack covers both front- and back-end development.

Coding Languages Commonly Used for Web Development

Many different languages can be used for web development, but some of the most popular include Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript. 

  • HTML is used to provide the building blocks and critical functions for a website.
  • As mentioned, CSS is focused on style. JavaScript can be used to help with functionality through interactive elements.

Discover Your Coding Destiny

When it comes to fighting off clashing colors and poorly functioning web pages, designers and developers work side-by-side.

So, which is right for you?

You don’t have to decide right away! Instead, explore the wide world of coding and see where you excel.

Luckily, there is an overlap in the skills and coding knowledge that are required for both. So even if you are unsure, you can start by learning the languages mentioned previously: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or Processing.

One easy way to figure out which one you prefer is through learning and practical application. By building skills suited for both web design and web development, you’ll discover which one best suits your personal style.

Live Your Dream with Disney Codeillusion

Disney Codeillusion makes it easy to build skills in both web design and web development. If you are wondering how to become a web developer/designer or you simply want to gather skills across the world of coding, our lessons make it easy and engaging to get there!

Through our 125 interactive lessons, you'll embark on an immersive coding adventure alongside some of your favorite Disney characters. The program offers courses on four crucial computer programming languages: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Processing. Disney Codeillusion’s role playing game format keeps learners of all ages engaged, and the step-by-step guidance ensures a no-stuck experience. 

Discover the magic of coding and try out the free trial today!

If you’re interested in exploring the different career paths that web design could put you on, continue to our blog on how to freelance web design to learn more about this potentially lucrative position. 


  1. Techopedia. Web Design. www.techopedia.com/definition/10009/web-design
  2. Techopedia. Web Development. www.techopedia.com/definition/23889/web-development
  3. CareerFoundry. The Difference Between UX And UI Design - A Beginner's Guide. www.careerfoundry.com/en/blog/ux-design/the-difference-between-ux-and-ui-design-a-laymans-guide/