Web Design Vs Web Development: Why User-Centric Design Matters

Published: September 2020

Web Design Vs Web Development: Why User-Centric Design Matters

In a world that’s already dominated by digital technologies, it seems strange to still have confusion over the terms web design and web development – are they the same thing? The difficulty stems from industry terminology, where people often substitute one of these terms for the other when referring to the process of building a website.

However, they’re actually two very different things. Broadly speaking, web development is the coding side that puts the technical elements in place for your new website to function – while web design is the actual design of the site itself. Some agencies, like ourselves, do both of these things as they carry out a fully comprehensive web design project.

But really, it’s the web design stage that is critical to whether users get something from your site. Why is that? Let’s break down the web design vs web development idea a little more…


Web Design Shapes A User’s Experience

The design of a website, whether you notice it or not, helps shape how a user interacts with your site. For an ecommerce business, this can be everything from where your ‘buy now’ buttons are placed on a page through to what your products look like, how your checkout flows and more – it’s not just about a fancy logo.

Obviously, web development has to support this by offering the correct functionality but it’s the design that has to actually attract the user and influence their decision.

To understand this, go and start a fresh LinkedIn profile. Their web design team has done an incredible job building an onboarding experience that has a visual progress bar that prompts a new user to take the steps needed to complete their profile and essentially ‘convert’ for LinkedIn.


Web Design: UX vs. UI

User experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design are two different fields but in reality, a lot of modern designers combine both fields into their broad web design offering. The user experience design stage is about creating a journey that makes sense for the user, driving them towards a desired action or solving their needs. The UI itself is the interface through which a user actually takes this journey.

Both UX and UI are geared towards the same thing: interpreting a user’s behaviour on a site and trying to guide them towards a goal. For your business, this could be guiding them towards a purchase or enquiry – but it may also just be getting them to consume your content. Whatever the goal, designing with both UX and UI in mind is critical.

MailChimp, the email marketing platform, is a great example of both UX and UI design done right. As you navigate through the site, you’re guided through an onboarding process to get a campaign set up – which is done through clever UX design. The UI that you interact with is clear, crisp and engaging. Mailchimp are so confident in their design, they even created a brand story to discuss it. It makes for a great lesson in good web design.


Why Web Development Isn’t Enough

An in-house developer at a large company is a lynchpin that protects and enhances the technical areas of the business. But for smaller businesses who need a website created for them, development is far less important than design.

When you plan a new website project, the development side of things is crucial to ensuring the site functions as you need it to – but beyond that, design is EVERYTHING. Without good web design, you may have a perfectly functional site that can carry out complex tasks such as inventory management – but nobody will bother using it. 


Choose An Agency That Can Do Both

Don’t let a project as important as your website become a dull, uninspired web page or a broken but beautiful one. Combine the disciplines of smart web development and engaging UX and UI-focused web design when you choose Urban River. Every project we carry out brings you the best of both worlds to deliver sites that don’t just perform – but engage and convert customers. 


Contact us today to get started. 

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