There tends to be a lot of confusion in relation to the terms, web development and web design, with the main one being that many assume they are the same thing. The truth is that while they are closely related in terms of building websites, they have two very distinct and different functions.
One of the easiest ways to compare them is in relation to the building of car. The design of the car will focus on aspects like the dashboard layout, the upholstery, the shape of the car, the available colour schemes, front and rear lights layout, and many other elements that all go towards creating the appearance of the car.
If we apply that to a website and its design, this would be the equivalent of the colour scheme, what theme is used, where the elements appear on each web page, the logo, and which images are used. So, with web design what you are focussing on is the appearance and layout.
Now, for development, and sticking with our analogy of producing a new car, the specifics will include the fuel system, the engine management system, all the electronics that are used throughout the car, and even the gear ratios. In other words, development relates to all the technical aspects of the car and its performance.
Sticking with that thought, we can, therefore, regard web development as those elements which impact on the functioning of the website. This will be any coding that is used, plugins employed to add functionality, how the website’s load speed is optimized and aspects of on-page SEO.
You may also have noticed, that just like in a car, most of the elements which contribute to its development are mostly hidden from view, or ‘under the bonnet’, to coin a phrase. While users of a website will see most of the design factors, many of the development factors, are rarely seen, although they may be experienced by users.
An obvious example of this is the page loading speed that we mentioned previously. A visitor will experience this, and hopefully be impressed by it, but will never see what developments have been added to the website to make that happen. However, something they will see is the page layout, which is obviously a result of web design.