What is web design?

web design with custom graphics
Web design by MercClass
Web design is what creates the overall look and feel when you’re using a website. It’s the process of planning and building the elements of your website, from structure and layout to images, colors, fonts and graphics.

Web design has numerous components that work together to create the finished experience of a website, including graphic design, user experience design, interface design, search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation. These elements determine how a website looks, feels and works on various devices. Check out this in-depth guide on building a website, if you want to learn more about the whole process.

Web design is different from web development, which is the actual coding that makes a website work. When you’re building a website, you need both web design and web development. Although you can find web designers who are also web and UX developers, these are distinct skill sets.

three website mock-ups
Here’s what your website will look like in its earliest stages. Via Hal Gatewood.
Web designers take your ideas and turn them into a mockup that shows what your future website will look like. Web designers handle the creative part of designing a website.

Web developers—also sometimes called engineers or coders—take the mockup your web designer made and translate it into a coding language so it can be displayed on the web. They make websites functional, which often means custom-coding widgets and other tools.

A user experience developer, also known as a UX developer, is the one who makes your website user-friendly. They have technical skills as well as design skills and put them to work creating websites that attract and keep visitors.