Web Design
Web Design

The Principles of Web Design and Web Development

People often tend to say “web design” and “web development” in the same breath but in reality there is a world of difference between the two. If you are looking for a job in the computer sector or you are hiring a professional for your digital agency, you have to be clear about the precise job responsibilities of the two. Knowledge and skill sets are vastly dissimilar even though within companies, the lines between the two are often blurred with the work of the two blending into each other.

A look at each of them in some detail will therefore be in order.

What is web design

The work of a web designer starts by first assessing the client’s goals and objectives and then moving on to an Information Architecture to set up the framework on which the website will be based. There are several design principles that make a website pleasing to the eye and aesthetically attractive to the visitor and the web designer has to incorporate them in the work.

These principles can be categorised as follows –

  • Balance – A designer has to strike the right balance between heavy and light elements that is, dark and light colours. The two must be used in the right proportion to create a balanced design.
  • Contrast – Designers focus on contrasting sizes, shapes and textures to highlight and draw attention to important sections of a website. So far as colour is concerned, use of shades placed opposite one another as in a colour wheel brings out the best effects. This is also directly linked to another principle known as Emphasis which is drawing attention to certain sections of a website as per client’s requirements.
  • Consistency – It is a critical aspect of web design principles. A visitor to a website should have a clean and consistent experience throughout the site regardless of the number of pages.
  • Unity – This helps to establish a relationship between all components of a website especially in the areas of layout and composition.

Only when all the pieces are structured perfectly will a website be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes of a visitor.

What is web development

Basically, web development can be further categorised in two – front-end development and back-end development. These two have very different purposes in the overall activity of web development though the skill sets required for each of them do overlap.

  • Front-end development – The work of a front-end developer starts with taking the visual design from the designer and structuring it in code. Tools used include JavaScript, CSS for visual styles and codes and HTML for building the site. This is usually enough to make the site “live” for simple and small sites, but for complex projects, “back-end” development will have to be further taken up.
  • Back-end development – For complex projects like building ecommerce platforms where shopping carts have to be linked with fully secured online payment gateways and processors, back-end development is required. Advanced programming and interactions have to be embedded in the web pages with focus on how clients use the site’s functionality to achieve their desired goals.

A good developer is one who knows how APIs (application programming interfaces) can be used to connect different software packages for arriving at solutions that optimises client requirements.

Even though web professionals might be specialists in web design or web development, those using programs like Adobe for visual designs generally know about HTML and CSS to code basic pages too. Hence the lines between the two are often not clearly demarcated, leading people to club the completely two separate entities together.