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

Building a website is a much more complex task than most people realize. It requires a lot of specialized knowledge and skill training to make a functional, aesthetically pleasing site. Most business owners don’t have the necessary background knowledge to get the job done.
Luckily, web designers and web developers are available for hire. Both of these professionals are integral to the process of creating a website, and they each have a unique set of foci, skills, and abilities. These terms might seem to refer to the same thing at first glance, but really they denote two distinct occupations that work together to accomplish a common goal.

So, what is the difference between a web designer and a web developer? Let’s take a closer look at the responsibilities of each tech specialist and how they differ from one another.

What are the Main Differences Between a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

While web developers and designers are both involved in site creation, they each have their own distinct goals and responsibilities within that field. So, when we look at “web designer vs. web developer”, we have to determine which aspect of site creation each one focuses on.
Here are the main differences between both jobs.

Web Designer

A web designer is primarily concerned with the style and aesthetic of a website. Their job is to make sure that the site looks visually appealing and that it reflects the brand of the site owner through style and tone. They are trained to customize the visual elements present on a webpage to create an appropriate atmosphere for each specific client.
These designers not only have to be creative individuals, but they also know how to use standard programming languages, like HTML and CSS. Designers are often thought of as the “architects” of the website creation process, as it is their vision that determines what a website will look like.

Web Developer

If a designer is the “architect” of the site creation process, then a developer is the “builder.” It’s the developer’s job to execute the designer’s creative vision while also ensuring that the website functions the way it’s supposed to. Developers are more concerned with the structure and functionality of a website rather than its aesthetic appeal.
Developers have to be experts in computer programming. They must know several coding languages, including Java, SQL, and C#. They use these tools to breathe life into the designer’s vision, and ensure that the end result is fully operational.

This need for more technical expertise also comes with an extra bonus perk- more pay. A web developer’s salary is typically much higher on an annual basis, as compared to web designers’ salaries. When thinking about the difference of a web designer vs. web developer, this is one aspect that potential job seekers likely don’t forget!

What Are the Different Types of Website Designers?

Of course, no two web designers are created equal. Depending on the particular aspects of design they focus on, they tend to fall into one of the following three categories:

UX Designers

UX, or “user experience,” designers focus on maintaining site traffic by creating website experiences that keep visitors engaged. They use their knowledge of site needs and user demographics to lay the foundations for an ideal website visitors to keep users from bouncing to a different webpage. For example, they will use something called “color theory” in order to determine what colors engage users the most or entice them to take certain actions on a website.
UX designers are mostly concerned with keeping a website’s aesthetic palatable and easy to look at.

UI Designers

UI, or “user interface” designers, are more concerned with how the different elements on a website are used rather than their appearance. The UI designer’s job is to determine how site elements should work and plan out their intended functions to produce an ideal user interaction system.
This is not to be confused with a developer’s job, which is to execute these functions and make sure they work properly, rather than plan out how they should work for the best possible user experience.

Visual Designers

A visual designer is not the same thing as a graphic designer. They are responsible for both aesthetic and functional design concerns. They have to be able to synthesize the responsibilities of a UX designer and a UI designer.
A visual designer’s primary task is to translate a brand’s style and tone into a web design concept to ensure that their client’s website has the appropriate look to fit their needs.

What are the Different Types of Web Developers?

Developers can also be grouped into three distinct categories based on their specific jobs, including back-end and front-end developers. These categories are:

Back-end Developers

Back-end developers are responsible for setting up a website’s core structure. They essentially have to lay down the foundation for the site to be able to work properly. They do many “behind the scenes” coding work on databases and servers, so they have to be well-versed in several coding languages. They also test and fix bugs to ensure proper site functionality.

Front-end Developers

Front-end developers are responsible for structuring frameworks for site elements that users interact with. They are sometimes called “client-side developers” since they develop elements intended to be seen by site visitors. Like designers, they have to be trained in coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Full-stack Developers

Full-stack developers can do the work of both back-end developers and front-end developers. During one project, they may be working server-side to program a web application in addition to developing it on the front-end. Due to the nature of their skills, they can approach site development more holistically.

Web Designer vs. Web Developer: How Do You Know Which One You Need?

Building a website from the ground up requires both a web designer and a web developer. However, you’ll need to know whether to hire a designer or a developer for individual website building tasks.

When You Need a Web Designer

A designer can help you with tasks like:

  • Creating a new concept for your website’s brand
  • Editing photos and videos
  • Redesigning your site’s homepage layout

When You Need a Web Developer

A developer can help you with tasks like:

  • Rectifying server issues
  • Creating a mobile app
  • Creating user-interactive site elements, like contact forms


Hopefully, this blog clarified the functions of a web designer vs. web developer. Overall, both web designers and web developers are integral components in the website building process. Their respective skill sets come together to create visually appealing websites with streamlined user experiences that keep visitors engaged.

Do you need a web designer and/or developers for your website? Contact us today. We can start a conversation about your business, and work towards managing a site together based on your needs.

You May Also Like