Website design and website architecture are two closely related fields with a lot of similarities and common goals. Both play a crucial role in website development, presentation of the brand/firm to the online audience, traffic, conversion rates, popularity, etc. And both focus on the end user. However, they are two disciplines with a host of differences and different outcomes.
To understand the difference between website design and website architecture it is obviously necessary to understand the two concepts. Before moving onto the actual differences, we will therefore take a closer look at the definition of both website design and website architecture.
Website design refers to a process of planning and creation of graphic design, user interface, navigation, layout, etc. and often also incorporating search engine optimisation or SEO. Often understood as the “aesthetic” segment of website development, however, website design is much more than just about the looks. It is also about user experience, the brand’s/firm’s impression/image on the web, website usability and much, much more.
Website architecture also deals with processes such as user interface, user experience, usability, etc. But unlike website design which involves both conceptual and “technical” work, website architecture predominantly deals with the former, similar as “real” architecture. However, a lot of attention is also paid to things such as content, its organisation, business plan/goal of the website (e.g encourage visitors to buy a product/service, sign up to newsletter, click on ads, etc.). As a result, website architecture requires a complex set of skills which are unique to this discipline.
Bottom line: The difference between website design and website architecture is very similar to that between building engineering and the traditional architecture. This means that website architecture provides a plan for the development and creation of a website which among other things also includes website design.
As explained above, website design and website architecture require a unique set of skills and knowledge, similar as building engineering and the traditional architecture. Therefore, hire a website designer for website design and a website architect for website architecture if you want your website to achieve the best results.