Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer Unravelled

Web designer vs web developer
Even though the designer’s job may look similar to the developer’s, the boundaries between the two are blurry. You go into the web market, and almost everyone addresses themselves as a web developer or a designer.


In reality, is there a significant difference when we study web designer vs web developer? Do they perform similar roles?


Even though many use the terms interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two. It is a debatable topic, but below, we will break down the differences between web designers and developers for better clarity.


Jump To


Web Designing Role

Web design is the website’s design, which is visible to the user on the internet. Primarily, it refers to its user experience and not development. As a web designer, you may have to perform several tasks. But you create a website’s visual aspects and layout by working on the appearance, font, colors, images, and sometimes the content.


Here is a rundown of the scope of work:

  • Making the website user-friendly and visually appealing to motivate the visitors to stick around for as long
  • Designing responses web pages that translate well across all web devices
  • Building different conversion-generating elements
  • Adhering to the best industry standards and practices
  • Considering how their design affects the website’s coding
  • Creating a site mockup and structures that developers code
  • When we compare web designer vs web developer’s role, post-launch services like monitoring, maintenance, content updates and creation, ongoing performance checks are a part of designer’s work


Types Of Web Designers

Broadly, there are three kinds of web designers and each focus on a specific and unique type of work.

  • Visual designers work with the visual elements and the layout of the website. They combine some aspects from both UI and UX designs. They make the interface easy to use and aesthetically appealing.
  • User Interface (UI) – The UI designers accentuate the website’s usability and help optimize conversions.
  • User Experience (UX) – They ensure that the website is structured to engage more visitors and deliver a positive user experience.


Web developer vs web designer which is better for you – that is up to you to decide.


Web Designer Skills

Some skills that a web designer must have are:

  • Project management
  • Creative problem solving and creativity
  • Knowledge of design principles
  • Experience with SEO
  • Customer service and communication
  • Graphic design and photo editing skills
  • Understanding of different coding languages
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of business and marketing strategy
  • Detailed-oriented


Web Developer Role

Web developers work on building and maintaining the website’s core structure. Their role is primarily technical and employs advanced programming languages and complex coding. Typically, they consider the concepts and ideas and use them to build a fully-functional, live, real website.


To understand web designer and web developer differences, here is a rundown of the scope of work for web developers:

  • Building the website – coding and configuring the database and server on the backend and incorporating user-facing functionalities and features.
  • Debugging and testing
  • Post-launch services like fixing hosting or server issues and ongoing support and maintenance
  • They use jQuery or JavaScript to ensure a seamless website running.


Types Of Web Developers

Web developers work on different programming languages. The languages employed by them depend on the kind of work performed.


Broadly, there are three kinds of web designers and each focus on a specific and unique type of work.

  1. Frontend web developers code the website using programming languages and Content Management systems. There is a massive collaboration and overlap between web designers and frontend developers.
  2. Backend web developers code the server and database using advanced programming languages like NodeJS, SQL, Ruby, Java, C#, PHP, and other server-side frameworks.
  3. Full-stack web developers code both the backend and frontend of the website


Web Developer Skills

Some skills that a web developer must have are:

  • Familiarity with different frontend coding languages like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.
  • Knowledge of backend coding languages like Ruby, Java, and PHP.
  • Communication skills
  • Experience with APIs
  • Analytical skills
  • Experience with eCommerce platforms and Content Management Systems
  • Project management
  • Creative problem solving
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Interpersonal skills

Now that you understand their scope of work, let us look at their differences.


Differences Between Web Designers and Web Developers

Below, we will address the top differences between the two to assess what’s better for you.


Point of Difference Web Designer Web Developer
Discipline Web designer performs the first step in the web development process and involves website structure, layout, graphic design, color, fonts, text, navigation ergonomics, imagery, and more. A web developer creates a website for the intranet or the internet.
What matters the most in the portfolio? Hiring managers browse through your Dribbble or Behance profile. Since they want to see how you code, they check your GitHub profile.
Coding They need little to no coding knowledge. So, for you which is better web designer or web developer, will depend on your willingness to learn to code. They must be proficient at coding.
Responsibility They work on the website’s design, layout, and graphical aspects. A designer aims to make a website that is usable and aesthetically appealing. Developers are in charge of coding, designing, and modifying the different website aspects to meet the client’s needs.
Principles Visual hierarchy is the governing principle. Its two governing principles are utility and portability. They determine a site’s success or failure.
Job They are creative individuals who comprehend the client’s vision and act accordingly by creating a visually appealing design that appeals to the masses. They have a technical job and convert the designer’s designs into a website. They work on the website’s functionality and design.
Tools employed Design tools and apps such as Sketch, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and others. Programming language knowledge – HTML, JavaScript, CSS, PHP, ASP.NET, Python, Ruby, jQuery to name a few.
Personality traits They need to be more imaginative, creative, and innovative. They are always more analytical.
Compensation Relatively lower Relatively higher


So, this is all about the web designer vs web developer differences. Now, let us also address their similarities in them.

Web Design vs. Web Development: Similarities

Is web designer and web developer the same in any way? Though not essentially the same, the two have several similarities because of their overlapping nature.


Here are some common aspects:

  • They both need some level of coding learning.
  • Both web developers and designers focus on web advancement.
  • Both work towards improving the website.


Can You Be Both A Web Designer and A Web Developer?

There is a new term floating in the market called the devigner. It blurs the differences between web designer and web developer. It is the portmanteau word, implying an individual who is both a developer and a designer. You can take up both projects and make more money if you have both skills. But, both your skills should be at par with each other to succeed.


If in doubt, try to acquire mastery over one skill first, and instead of being a jack of all trades, consider becoming a master of one.


Related: Graphic Design vs Web Design


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. When do you need a web designer, and when do you need a web developer?

Ans. When a brand or a company has both a web developer and a designer on board, it can dramatically amplify the website development process. However, you do not necessarily have to hire both for a top-notch site. So, for you which is better web designer or web developer? The choice depends on your visions, goals, and expectations in reality.


For instance, if you wish to create an elementary website, merely having a designer who can assess the site’s usability and offer input on its design and layout will suffice.


On the contrary, if you aspire for a complicated website with several advanced features, you need a web developer who can bring your ideas to life.


So, choosing between a web designer vs web developer depends on the scope of work.


Type of work Preferred Choice
Creating a mobile application Web Developer
Building a contact form Web Developer
Fixing hosting or server issues Web Developer
Designing a homepage layout Web Designer
Conceptualizing a site’s branding Web Designer
Editing videos or photos Web Designer


Ques 2. What tools do web designers and web developers use?

Ans. Here are some tools used by web designers:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • InVision Studio
  • Adobe XD
  • Google Web Designer
  • Sketch


Here are some tools used by web developers:

  • CodePen
  • jQuery
  • Sublime text
  • GitHub
  • Chrome developer tools


Ques 3. Who gets paid more, web designer or web developer?

Ans. When aware with what is the difference between web developer and web designer, you must know that typically, the developers make more money than designers, but the salary depends on the skill sets and the assigned job roles.


On average, the annual salary for a web designer is around $53,000, and that of a developer is $77,000. Some senior developers make as much as $131,000.


Ques 4. Does web design involve coding?

Ans. A web designer’s role involves little to no coding to bring a site to life. They focus more on the visual themes, font set, layout, color palette, and the website’s overall look. If you require coding it is just the basic level.


To Sum Up..

Some decades ago, when someone asked, the difference between developers and designers, the answer was straightforward. The designers handle the design and the developer’s code. Today, things have dramatically changed.


So, if you wish to select a career path as a web creator hope this article helped you to understand the comparison between web designer vs web developer. Choose what you are good at and what interests you the most.