What Is the Difference Between a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

When searching for a qualified professional to create a website for your business, you will run into two primary job titles from your candidates – Web Designer and Web Developer. You may believe that these two titles are used interchangeably, and they can be in many cases, but they play very different roles in the creation of a website. In order to choose the right professional to complete your website, you need to know the difference between a designer and a developer to best fit your unique needs.

In the simplest terms, a web designer is someone that creates the outward look of your website while a web developer is someone that makes it actually function. However, there is much more to the overall process. These two jobs are two pieces of the same puzzle, each with specialized roles to play towards the same goal of creating a functioning and great-looking website.

What Is the Difference Between a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

The Role of a Web Designer

A web designer is very much an artist in their own right. They are responsible for front-end development of a website, meaning they present the face that your users will see. Using graphic design tools such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, they will create the visual layout of a website.

When creating a layout, a web designer will need to look into many different aspects of design. They need to work extensively in color theory to make sure that the color scheme works together and choose colors that appropriately accent each other rather than distract or clash. Furthermore, they will also need to work heavily in spacial relationships between the content of the website. This spacial arrangement will be able to subconsciously make the website look pleasing to the eye as well as accent pertinent information that you want your users drawn to.

However, a web designer’s job is not solely making the website look eye-pleasing. Part of their role is also making sure that their design also has accessibility to the user. Every business wants those who visit their website to be able to find all the information that they need to build trust in them that will eventually lead to the visitor doing business with them. If someone cannot find any contact information or any information on the services a business provides, it is unlikely they will turn into a customer. In this situation, a web designer has not done their job properly even if the site looks great.

The Role of a Web Developer

Whereas a web designer is an artist, a web developer is a programmer. They are in charge of the technical side of your website through its back-end development, or the code that makes it work. Those who visit a website will see the web designer’s work, but it is the web developer that makes the website function on the internet. It is the work of a web developer that remains unseen.

Web developers will often hold similar degrees to those of programmers as they are programmers themselves. They will know web languages like PHP, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, and more. The web developer is not responsible for laying out a nice looking site, but rather is responsible for making it technically sound. Their job is to essentially make sure the website layout is displayed correctly, pertinent information gets logged to databases correctly, and every button sends the user where they need to be directed.

A web developer is the less glamorous job of the two, but plays a very important role. No matter how good a design is, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work on a technical level.

What Someone Be Both a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

While both jobs are distinct in their roles, one might wonder if one person could fill both. These days, with websites and the skill set in creating them so high in demand, it is possible for one person to be proficient at both roles. In fact, it is highly beneficial for one person to have experience in both design and development even if they are only filling one role. That experience makes it easier for a designer to create something workable for the developer and vise versa.

However, it is important to keep in mind that knowledge is not often translated to proficiency. While a professional can be skilled in both areas, they will almost always be more proficient in one than the other. The more technical-minded web developer will have extensive knowledge of PHP and other programming languages and may be able to craft a workable design, but they may not be proficient at the finer nuisances of design like spacial relationships that make a website aesthetically pleasing.

Alternatively, the more artist-oriented web designer may know how to transfer their design into CSS and perhaps even know a more complex coding language, but their technical skills may be severely limited compared to a developer that focused sole on programming. This means there will be a limit to the functionality they can create.

For many smaller websites, a single person could fill the role that you need for your website creation. However, the larger your business is and the more you need your website to do, the more you will benefit from hiring two individuals or using a team of individuals skilled in these two surprisingly different jobs.

It is because these two jobs are so different, but also so high in demand that many businesses are choosing to simply outsource their website work to a business made up of equal parts web designers and web developers. With so many knowledgeable professionals in one company, every website they make gets the benefit of their collective knowledge so it can meet the exact design and programming needs of the customer. If you need a website for your business or believe your current website could be better, contact us today. We can talk about what your unique business needs for its web presence and even audit older websites to bring them up to more modern standards of design and development.