Web design vs web development – what is the difference? The lines have been blurred for some time and the number of opinions on the matter probably equals the number of fish in the sea. The good news is, that it doesn't matter. This is not the answer you're looking for when trying to find a web professional to do work for you.
You need to be able to find that web professional who has the skills to do the job. It doesn't matter whether they call themselves a designer or a developer.
Not to make an attempt at explaining web design vs web development, but, for the record, developers are typically involved with application and/or software development. Nonetheless, many also know very well how to build and maintain websites. So, you can't rule them out if you need a website built.
Step One: Stop trying to distinguish web design vs web development.
To start, determine what your project is exactly. Is it a new website? A redesign of a current website? A landing page working with a digital banner marketing campaign? Is it a mobile app? Is it a web-based software product? Will you have ecommerce? Will users be interacting with the site in a way that manipulates the page view, the content, or the outcome of calculations? Determine the basis of your project needs by understanding first what you want in the end.
Once you have a clear idea of what the outcome needs to be, it's time to start looking for a web professional that has the right skillset for your project.
While it is beyond the scope of this article to talk about reputations – how to tell good professionals from not-so-good ones, it is imperative that the web professional you do choose can validate claims about skills by providing examples from their previous projects that have a similar basis to yours. For example, if you are a clothing retailer wanting to build an ecommerce website to sell your products, you will want to find a web professional that has at least a couple of ecommerce websites built recently (within the past 2 years) in their portfolio and links to live sites they've built for you to look at and evaluate. If they don't, there is valid reason to doubt that they are the right web expert for your project.
An example of a well-rounded portfolio is the 3D Digital portfolio. This portfolio exemplifies the diversity of skills offered by the 3D Digital team. It provides a good sense of the clients they have worked with – medical-dental, bio-technology, retail, celebrity/hi-profile, schools/education, nonprofit, home services, entrepreneurs, legal, construction/builders and more. By examining the portfolio further, you can see that have built everything from very complex retail ecommerce sites and sites with cool interactive animations to static informational websites. The more you dig, you will see that they have not only built many custom websites, but they have a video production team, too. You can get a social media video animation created or shoot an entire video segment in the studio. While your project is unique in its own right, there is good evidence provided to feel confident moving forward with discussing your project with them.
Whether you have a large project or a small one, whether you are looking to hire an agency or a consultant, this necessity for them to provide evidence of their skills applies.
Here is a tip when searching for a web professional in Google:
If, for example, you want an ecommerce website built in WordPress, Google something like
WordPress + Ecommerce + Jacksonville
…where Jacksonville is the location modifier for the search.
Adding a location modifier helps weed out search results for jobs, education and other channels that may not procure a web professional for you.
Finally, when reaching out to professionals in your search, don't settle with just one quote or opinion. Get multiple quotes and opinions. Discover who you are comfortable talking with and who is difficult to talk with. Discover who has experience working in your market or industry. Weigh the options. The cheapest price is not always the best route to take. In the case of your business, it's always better to know the professional you are paying has the credentials and ability to make your project successful than it is to save a few dollars with the cheapest quote. And, sometimes it works out that the best person for the job is the cheapest quote!
In the end, understanding web design vs web development really isn't necessary at all.