Website Design and Development – Two Disciplines, One Goal

Website design and development are often seen as one service. However, design and development are actually two disciplines that support one another and work together. Combined, website design and development provide the structure to maximize your website’s potential.

Website Design

Website design is all about the appearance of the site. Don’t underestimate the value of website design.

Design isn’t just concerned with how attractive your site is or how effectively it communicates your brand. Website design also focuses on how your users interact with your website. User experience is a component of design that is probably the most important aspect of the design process. If your users aren’t able to understand or use your website then it makes all of your development efforts pointless.

User experience ties intrinsically with the design process. Beginning with wireframes ensures the focus on user experience isn’t lost. A good wireframe’s purpose is to communicate the flow of the page and hierarchy of decision-making that can occur. Part of why wireframes are stripped down is to help segment the ornamentation from the organization. Wireframes also allow us to iterate more quickly, so we can solve problems with organization before we need to focus on visual details.

Once wireframes are approved, the focus turns to graphical mock ups. Seeing the wireframe expanded to the full detail of mock up can be very exciting for the client. This excitement often overshadows the importance of the wireframe stage. It’s important that changes to the visual hierarchy of the page don’t get introduced into the project due to a reaction to the visuals.

We’ve talked about the options of building a custom theme versus modifying an existing template. No matter how you choose to proceed, the time spent on wireframes and mock ups is going to pay dividends far beyond the investment.

Website Development

Web design doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Understanding the fundamental goals of the website means architecting a website that will solve a business problem or achieve a goal. What the site is going to “do” often informs what the site’s structure and user experience needs to be.

Web development is one of the cornerstones of what we do. Development focuses on the functional requirements for the site. Creating custom post types, setting up integrations with other services, and communicating with the database are all key components. In the WordPress space, customizations to plugins and themes are also a likely part of the process.

In addition, development is concerned with translating the web design elements into the functional interface. For example, CSS, SASS, and Javascript are all languages that we use to create the visual impact and user interactions.

Making sure the design is responsive across myriad devices and correctly implements accessibility requirements are part of the responsibility of front end development.

Website Design and Development – A Balancing Act

The two halves, website design and website development, work to form a solid whole. Together, design supports development and development informs design.

Having watched the process unfold many times, we know both sides impact, modify, and improve the other. So, both disciplines in equal measure should be part of a successful project.

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