Design and Development. What’s the Difference?

When it comes to Web Sites, quite often the words Design and Development are used loosely and interchangeably. As a web developer, when people ask what I do, often it’s easier to just say “Web Design” as that’s something that most people understand. It’s true that the end state is a functional web site, so what’s the difference?

The fact is that the difference is actually quite substantial. From a client or end user state, it’s really quite inconsequential, but when your’re running and managing a business that specialises in custom built, unique and boutique web sites, you MUST understand the differences and importance of each, and how they interface.

So what is a Web Designer?

The designers are the people with creative and multimedia flair. They have a keen eye for lines, symmetry, color matching and pallets, layouts and usually also have a degree or diploma in design. On the computers, they are highly skilled in image manipulation and video editing – and most would be very familiar with Adobe Suite.

And a Web Developer?

These are usually more tech based. HTML, CSS, JavaScript are PHP are their primary languages. They understand these codes and whilst may not need to write millions of lines to achieve the results thanks to front end development tools, they are able to understand and manipulate the code to achieve greater results – or to troubleshoot when things go wrong.

Can’t you do both?

Of course! There are a great number of people who are multi-skilled in these areas, but normally you either like one or the other, and therefore become most proficient in one. Pretty much any designer or developer who works in the web space will almost certainly at the least have a decent understanding of what the other does.

How do they work together then?

In our many years of experience, all too often we have seen environments where there is no unity – a rivalry between the two. It gets worse when management don’t understand the core differences. When one is design focused, they come up with the most beautiful designs in the world, but making them functional can burn up the budget in development time as the developers spend hours and hours tackling complex problems in translating a picture into a functional web site.

Inversely, there are some very good developers who think they are pretty switched on with design, but the reality is that they are probably color blind and have no sense for the “feel” of the site – purely functionality focused.

At Mayner Digital we long since identified this, and the requirement for both high quality Designers and Developers, who are specialists in those areas, and who can synergise together to create a beautiful AND functional site WITHIN A BUDGET. As seen in one of our previous posts¬†“The Hidden Time in Web Design”, there is generally a 50/50 split in the overall time required for each the Designers and Developers, and this is usually Design first, Develop Second.

Yet another pitfall though, is when people think you can just go ahead and leave the two entities to their own devices “the creatives don’t want to play with the geeks anyway”… Right? WRONG! It’s of the utmost importance that the Designers and Developers are collaborating, sharing, planning and discussing any project the whole time. And this can only be achieved when they each truly respect each other. Furthermore, that management truly respects them and understands their unique and essential roles. When there is a synergy, the designers talk to the developers about what they are planning to do before they do it – to ensure it’s within reasonable expectations. The developers will gladly explain any limitations and work on a solution that will provide the best outcome.

Better that than coming up with a you beaut design and finding that the developers can’t get it out on time and in budget. Then it’s back to the drawing board as the saying goes.


A great, beautiful and functional website is the function of good management and a sound working relationship between Designers and Developers. They communicate their intentions every step of the way through a project so as to achieve a unified outcome. On time. Within Budget.

At Mayner Digital we are proud of our Design and Development teams, who through experience and collaboration, almost seem to just read each others minds now. It’s very cool!

Contact us today for your complete Web Design and Development needs!

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