I can't understand what is "design" and what is "layout" in terms of web design. I'm confused between layout and design. Can anybody can help me understand these matters? Thanks for reading my question.

7 Answers 7


They are really closely related.

Layout is defined as the arrangement of predetermined items on a page. Basically, you're given the pieces and they are arranged.

Design is defined as the art or skill of combining text, images, and other items into a visually pleasing arrangement.

So, really they can be almost interchangeable.

The primary difference is that for layout you don't need to create anything. You just decide on placement, color, size, etc for items you already have. You don't pick typefaces, or color themes, or any of the "overall" visual aspects. Layout requires you to fit content into a specified theme or schematic.

For design you typically create things or find things to use. Such as, you draw a series of icons to use in the layout. Or you find stock photos and edit them to fit your layout. Design is also where global decisions are made - such as which typefaces will be used, the overall color theme, number of columns, trim size, bindery necessary (if any), etc.

Most graphic design (web or print) encompasses layout. However, a layout does not necessarily encompass any design.

It's a fine line and this is really just my opinion. There are few, if any, hard rules on what constitutes layout vs design. They both take a skilled eye when dealing with things like balance, proximity, space, etc.

-- To use an analogy: If baking cookies. Layout is putting the ingredients together, mixing them, and baking them. Design is deciding what ingredients are needed and what type of cookie you want to make, how many cookies, how long they should be baked at what temperature, etc.

  • Also, the layout and design are almost always made by the same person, they are part of a single process so it's really hard to draw a line where the layout ends and designing starts...
    – Alin
    Aug 18, 2015 at 16:59
  • Five years later you come back with a cookie analogy! 😋 Are you hungry? What is eating cookies an analogy for?
    – Wolff
    Oct 5, 2020 at 20:30
  • I edited more than just that @Wolff :) I suppose I could have used a mechanic vs auto manufacturer as an example. But who doesn't like cookies? (and only edited because I saw the new answer today - I didn't bump it.)
    – Scott
    Oct 5, 2020 at 20:39
  • I don't care if you bump your answers as long as you add food analogies. 🍪
    – Wolff
    Oct 5, 2020 at 21:13
  • @Wolff .. made.. of.. erm... puppy dog toes?
    – Scott
    Oct 5, 2020 at 21:39

When used distinctly, layout refers to spatial distribution of components: you just need the components' dimension and (absolute) position in the page to build a layout. In this case of use, design encompasses layout and rest of questions related to desired display.


Another way to think about this.

A news paper is designed, including choosing type face, column widths, colours for heating etc to get the “house style”.

Then each day a layout is done with today’s news and photos. The layout is done keeping to the rules that were decided at the time of the design. Layout can include rewriting a headline so it fits in better or cropping a photo, but is unlikely to include choosing the typeface.


a lot depends on how you use the term "design". design refers to the overall project which a part of is the layout. the layout elements must then also be individually designed to fit and compliment the overall design. I am a landscape architect, and have to design in 3D as well as graphically.my plans can be compared to a website in that I have to convey a lot of information visually and in clear, orderly yet pleasing visual experience. the way I see it; overall design incorporates the layout which incorporates individually designed elements.


Layout is the placement or the arrangement of all the elements while the Design serves as the plan or the visual presentation/appearance of the layout.


Design is the theoretical planning of each page,.

  • Objective a good printer materials design is important, because part of the selling a publication. Oct 5, 2020 at 19:01
  • 1
    And what is layout then?
    – Wolff
    Oct 5, 2020 at 21:34

Design= Layout & Style.

Layout= Pure Objects Arrangement In Space.

style= The Types Properties Of The Objects.

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