Web Design vs. Web Development Explained

This post originally appeared at Web Design vs. Web Development Explained via ShivarWeb

Web Design vs Web Development

Whether you are developing an RFP for a large ecommerce website or are a small business looking for people or tools to build a website, you’ll likely run into the terms “web design” and “web development”.

Even though they are sometimes used interchangeably, they do refer to distinct aspects of a well-built website. Here’s the short version.

Web Design refers to how a website appears in a browser. Web Development refers to what appears on a website in a browser.

In other words, web design refers to a website’s layout, structure, color schemes, media placements, typography, etc while web development refers to the content, source code, and user interface that shows the user what they want. Additionally, development refers to all the logistics of storing & rendering the website as a whole.

Web design is usually short-hand for the “front-end” of a website while web development is short-hand for the “back-end” of a website.

But honestly, even this definition is so over-simplified that it’s a bit misleading.

Background

A long, long time ago, websites were simply a collection of HTML & CSS files. Everything that showed up in someone’s browser was inside the file that loaded. Back then, a web designer did everything…because creating those files was all that you could really do.

But a little bit later (but still a long time ago), different people started managing HTML / CSS differently. Websites had become so large, that it wasn’t possible to update individual files in bulk.

Instead, all the different parts of a website were split up and put into a database. Content, templates, layouts, media files, fonts, etc – everything became a line in a database. Websites had “content management systems” to assemble different bits of information from the database into an automagically built HTML file everytime a browser requested it.

And this is when web development really became separate from web design.

Web design became more focused on the look of a website and how all these automagically generated files would fit together across an entire website. They became the architects of the website building world.

Web development became more focused on the functionality of a website and how those automagically generated files would actually get…generated. They became the engineers of the website building world.

And to stick with the building analogy, the contractors became, well, software. Website software got much, much better to where it could do the actual building based on web developers’ and web designers’ instructions.

Software as Designer & Developer

Software has also become much better at both web design and web development, further blurring the lines about who is doing what.

In the WordPress world, web designers have been handing off a lot of design work to pre-made themes and templates, thus freeing up designers to focus on branding & graphic design. Web developers have been handing off code development to pre-made plugins, thus freeing up developers to look at bigger picture speed, security, and user experience issues.

In the broader Web, hosted platforms and builders provide centralized (i.e., “global”) web development so that customers can focus exclusively on design, marketing & operations. This extends not only to website builders, but also ecommerce sites – even enterprise grade ecommerce websites.

In fact, more and more hosted platforms and builders are centralizing design with customizable templates and media libraries.

Designer vs. Developer as a Customer

Websites are a bundle of tradeoffs. There will always be a tradeoff between convenience and control. There will always be a tradeoff between quality and affordability. There will also be a tradeoff between uniqueness and support.

Deciding whether you need a professional developer or designer is no longer purely about your needs, but about your wants and current resources.

If you want maximum control, quality and uniqueness then you’ll need a professional designer and developer.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you want maximum convenience, affordability, and support – you can grab a solid, all-in-one website builder.

There is no right answer and no “best” choice – it all starts understanding your own goals and what all is on offer so that you can find the best fit.

There is no magic to web design or web development. They are both solving the same issues that websites have had since the beginning of the Web. But they have both changed…and overlap more than ever.

Be sure to browse the related posts below…or get the Best of ShivarWeb email series below where I share everything that I’ve written about building & marketing websites for myself and clients.

  • Website Builders Explained
  • Website Costs Explained
  • Website Hosting Explained
  • Domains vs. Web Hosting Explained
  • Essential Guide to Hiring a Web Designer
  • Essential Guide to Ecommerce Platforms

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How To Find A Startup Grant

business grants

Startups are inherently risky endeavors. According to Fortune Magazine, close to 60% of new startups fail. Because new businesses are so risky, it is notoriously difficult to obtain startup financing — most banks won’t lend to you unless you’ve been in business at least two years. While some online lenders offer startup loans, startup grants are another option for new business financing. A startup grant is even harder to get than a startup loan, but grants are more desirable because you don’t have to pay the money back.

Want a shot at a startup grant? Follow these steps to find a business grant you might qualify for.

1. Determine Whether You’re Grant-Worthy

Generally, only certain types of businesses qualify for startup grants. If your biz doesn’t fall into one of these categories, it’s unlikely you’ll qualify. For example, while there may be grant money for an innovative hardware manufacturer, when it comes to a run-of-the-mill hardware store…eh, not so much. Then again, if you face the significant hurdles of having a female-owned hardware store opening up shop in an economically distressed region, it’s a lot more likely that a private or public entity might want to give you some free money.

Read my post Do I Qualify For A Startup Grant? to determine if your business falls into one of the industries likely to qualify for startup grant funds. If not, you might want to start considering other alternative financing options, such as crowdfunding.

2. Start Local

City and township governments, business associations, and nonprofits in your immediate region are good places to start looking for grants. Even if you determine that your business doesn’t fit into one of the “grant-worthy” categories I mentioned above, you might be eligible for a grant if you’re starting a business in a certain city or region. For example, the Arch Grants organization awards grants to new businesses in the St. Louis area. There are not too many of these sorts of grants, but it’s always worth checking.

Be sure to scan city, county, and state websites for grant opportunities, as well as your local Chamber of Commerce. If you’re willing to relocate, you can also check local business grant opportunities in the city or cities you’d consider moving to.

3. Search Your Niche

If you can’t find any grant opportunities for businesses in your area, you can search grants by niche; that is, by your particular industry or business type. Your startup may fall into multiple niches — for example, your business may be veteran-owned and also a clean-energy business. Simply searching a phrase like “business grants for green construction” or “grants for home daycare” may deliver results tailored to your specific business niche.

Sometimes grants are for a particular niche and also a particular region. A couple examples of niche business grants include the Halstead Grant for new silver jewelry designers living anywhere in the US, and the Green Technology Business Grant Program for green technology startups in Cleveland, Ohio.

4. Go Corporate

Several large corporations offer business grants or host some kind of small business contest where the best businesses can win free money. These grant programs are highly publicized and thus highly competitive, but they might be worth looking into. FedEx, Miller Lite, and Visa are a few corporations that award business grants; Miller Lite’s grant contest is especially aimed at startups.

Even some popular business lenders offer business grant contests. Veteran-owned businesses, for example, should look into StreetShares‘ annual business contest for veterans.

5. Look At A Federal Level

Small businesses can potentially find grants they are eligible for on Grants.gov, the one-stop-shop for government grants. However, you should know that the vast majority of these are medical research grants. Also, even if you’re eligible for one of these prized federal grants, you’ll likely be competing with nonprofit organizations, and even city and state governments. The reason I listed federal grants last is that there are few, if any, federal grants a typical startup business would be eligible for.

However, at least a couple federal grants are aimed at innovative small businesses, and these are Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants for high-tech businesses involved in scientific research & development. The InnovateHER grant contest is for businesses that benefit women and children.

This blog post on the SBA website explains a little more about US government grants and how most are not really aimed at for-profit businesses. If you want some government help in funding your small business, you might want to look into a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. These loans are low-interest and relatively easy to apply for if you use an online SBA lender like SmartBiz.

Final Considerations

Once you find a list of startup grants you’re eligible for, the next step is to start preparing your grant application package. The application process is slightly different for each type of grant, but usually you will have to submit a business plan and Request for Proposal (RFP). For a large grant, you might even consider hiring a professional grant writer, though this probably wouldn’t be feasible or necessary for a grant contest where you only stand to win $2,000-$5,000, even after beating out thousands of other applicants.

The last thing I’d recommend to anyone searching for startup grants is to review startup grant alternatives, such as small business loans or alternative business financing options like P2P loans or equipment financing. If you have any questions about startup loans or alternative business financing, feel free to email us or ask in the comments!

The post How To Find A Startup Grant appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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