Web Designer vs Web Developer: What’s the Difference?

Web development and web design are two rapidly growing segments of the IT market. Designers are graphic artists who work on the visual side of websites — aesthetics, layout, and usability. In comparison, web developers build and maintain the underlying code. Does your company need to hire a developer or designer? Discover the main differences between their competencies in our article.

The Mission of Web Designers

To be successful, artists need a solid combination of technical and creative skills. Their work may include diverse tasks and responsibilities revolving around the visual aspects. For example, they may need to convert existing web design for better functionality, and code in different languages, such as JavaScript, Python, HTML, and PHP.

The goal of web design is to create a visually pleasing, user-friendly, and functional appearance. Their work is crucial for web development, as it creates a blueprint for the coding stage. Every business wants its website to attract visitors and prompt them to stay as long as possible.

Key Responsibilities

Designers do not only deal with the framework and layout. They must consider and create elements that generate conversion. Moreover, as mobile responsiveness is paramount, the website must ensure a smooth experience on any screen.

Professionals need to keep track of the latest trends in their industry and comply with specific standards. Their responsibilities often include work on brand imagery, fonts, colors, etc. Companies like Spotify also ask their designers to create style guides, so all of their websites look consistent. These specialists must be proficient in using different technologies and systems, such as:

  • HTML and CSS,
  • responsive and interaction design,
  • wireframing and prototyping,
  • conversion Rate Optimization,
  • user journey mapping,
  • branding,
  • color theory,
  • typography.

Designers need to do a lot of research and testing to make sure the product meets the client’s requirements and the expectations of the target audience. They also work with different resources. They may create, administer, and oversee documents like:

  • web design contracts,
  • site briefs,
  • website design questionnaires,
  • site proposals.

In their work, designers must make sure the result does not interfere with the coding. They create site structures and mockups, so the developers can get down to business. Finally, a part of web designers expertise concerns post-launch services. They may need to provide content and updates, maintain and monitor the site, and check its performance regularly.

Types of Web Designers

The industry of web development services is a broad field that includes different jobs based on the type of work required from the artist. There are three groups of experts, and all of them are in high demand.

1. UX Designers

These professionals make sure the structure of the website supports smooth navigation and a pleasant user experience overall. You can search for the best UX design websites for inspiration.  Or you can search for the best UX design websites for better understanding. All the best designs are human-centric, as they are based on the typical behavior patterns of users. UX designers make decisions based on research and solid data. They continuously check their solutions to collect and analyze data that helps their teams make informed choices.

2. UI Designers

The quality of user interface determines the quality of interactions with its visitors. These designers work on usability to make sure the visitors stay on the site, so they are more likely to become customers.

3. Visual Designers

As the job title suggests, these professionals are tasked with developing and perfecting the layout of a website, including all of its visual elements. This field overlaps with both UI and UX competencies. The two priorities for a visual designer are the aesthetic quality of the interface and user-friendliness.

The Mission of Web Developers

While designers deal with aesthetics and usability, developers create and maintain the website foundation — its core structure. This involves multifaceted technical work. For example, developers perform sophisticated coding and work with advanced programming languages. Based on the concepts and ideas proposed by the design team, hire full-stack developer, and they will build live and updated websites for any need.

Key Responsibilities

In a project team, it is the developer that constructs the website. This is a complex task requiring different types of expertise:

  • knowledge of programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP
  • configuring the back end (server and databases)
  • integrating features and functions related to UX
  • testing and debugging
  • support, maintenance, and fixing of any issues
  • search engine optimization
  • work with content management systems

Web development may be compared to construction. Developers build new websites, just like construction companies build houses. The mission of a developer is to create a reliable and functional structure based on the architect’s blueprints.

Types of Web Developers

Developers may work with different programming languages, but they usually specialize in a handful of them. Depending on the type of work they do, these specialists may be classified as:

1. Front-End Web Developers

These are the experts responsible for the coding of all visual elements that users see. In their work, they collaborate with web designers closely. The experts may use JavaScript, CSS, HTML, or other common languages. In addition, they must be well-versed in using Content Management Systems like WordPress. This dimension of development is also referred to as client-side development.

2. Back-End Web Developers

Developers who work with the back and produce code for the server and database. This job requires knowledge of server frameworks and such programming languages as PHP, C#, Java, Ruby, SQL, and NodeJS. These professionals deal with the aspects of website functionality that remain hidden from the user.

3. Full-Stack Web Developers

This category of development experts deals with both the client-side and the server-side. They must have extensive knowledge of both front- and back-end systems, and an understanding of how they work and interact. In terms of programming languages, they often use javascript, CSS, and HTML. In addition, they are responsible for the setup and configuration of servers, coding of APIs, and more.

To Sum up

Web designers and web developers are responsible for two major aspects of creating a website. While the artists create the blueprints based on the desired aesthetics and user experience, developers turn their ideas into fully-functional sites and ensure their flawless performance. Both developers and designers are integral parts of any development team.

Web Designer vs Web Developer: What’s the Difference? was last updated March 10th, 2023 by Mandy Barnes