Looking for Web Designer or Web Developer, is there’s really a difference?

  • June 20, 2022
  • Carlos A.
  • 6 min read

You’re a CTO / Manager of an IT department, or just Starting up your own Agency, or you want to have a website designed for your new law firm, this article will give you a better understanding.

How Do you know which to hire, Website Designer or Web Developer, and unsure what the difference is between the two? Read This article to find out how to choose the right one for your next project.

Website Designer

A website designer is someone that is responsible for outlining and designing the layout, usability, and visual aspect of your website. A web developer is someone that does the under the hood type of stuff such as coding and maintaining the core structure of website.

The Role of a Web Designer have varied in tasks as technology has grown and tools for building websites have gotten easier. The web designer focus is about creating the flow, visuals, colors, and layout structure of the website. Their goal is to make sure the website is visually pleasing and user friendly to the user and works closely with the marketing director to ensure that it encourages users to stay on the website, or close sales if it’s a lead generation or ecommerce website. The Web Designer should also make sure that the website is easily accessible on multiple devices, from PC, Mobile, Tablets, Podiums etc… for that reason, they must always be update to-date on the latest trends and technologies changes.

When Hiring a Web Designer & What are their Roles

If you’re starting up a marketing agency hiring a web designer is required. That person’s role is crucial to communicating the design concept of your client to the developers and marketing team. They’re always involved in the communication and meetings between the client and the project manager to ensure that they’re able to deliver the proper layout structure, user experience and flow for the client’s project. There’s some confusion if Web Designers write code; The simple answer is “No” they do not; but they do have basic knowledge of HTML & CSS, to be honest many people have basic knowledge of HTML these days.

The Skill Sets of a Web Designer are Following:

  • HTML & CSS Knowledge
  • WordPress or Similar CMS Experience
  • Understanding the Basics of Website Design and WAS (Web Accessibility Standards)
  • CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)
  • Wireframing and prototyping; a lot use Figma or Sketch
  • Color Theory and Branding
  • Design Tools such as Photoshop

There are other non-technical skills a web designer should have; for example, strong communication skills which is necessary for communicating with clients and management. Having the ability to collaborate team members such as Web Developer and Marketing Directors which is important to ensure that the project goes smoothly.

Web Developer

The web developers’ job is to build out and maintain the website, think of them as a mechanic, they go under the hood and make the design work and interactive. To be more specific the duties of a web developer involve construction of the website; this includes coding, configuration of the server and database on the backend, developing the functionality of the web application, testing and debugging many of the features pre-launch and post-launch and support and maintenance of the website by fixing any bug due to technology upgrades.

To help better understand the web developer role, we can also compare the process of building out a website to building a home. The developer is the construction team, they take the blueprint drafted by the architect (which is the web designer) and builds out the house according to the plan. In this construction analogy we have multiple developers (Front-End Developer, Back-End Developer & Full Stack)

Front-End Developer

Front-End developers code the website the user see and interact with (HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, VueJS etc..). Front-End Developers do have some design experience, but their main objective is to code visual elements.

Back-End Developer

Back-end developers code the database and server-side web applications, using advanced coding languages such as PHP, C#, Java, SQL, and Python. Back-End development is the behind the scenes that go into building out the website. If we were use the construction analogy, they would be the electrical, plumbing, etc… part of the construction project.

Full-Stack Developer

The Skill Sets of a Web Developer are Following:

  • Back-End / Server-Side Coding Language Such as (PHP, C# NodeJS etc…)
  • Front-End Coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, VueJS, or jQuery)
  • Testing and Debugging
  • Databases (MariaDB, MySQL, SQL, MsSQL)
  • Basic Knowledge of Linux / Unix

In additional to the technical skills, some non-technical skills are high required such as Problem Solving, Analytic and Critical Thinking which is use for figuring our problems and going through process of elimination during a debugging process. It’s also important to have solid communication skills to collaborate with clients, team members and management.

Tip on Choosing the Right Candidate to Work for You.

Now that you have a better understanding of Web Designer and Web Developer. Which one to choose? Well, really depends on the scope of your project. If you’re a Small to Mid-Size agency you would need to have both Web Designer and Developer assuming you have 5+ Clients to deal with, you would have the Web Designer, put together plans and have the Developer build it out; and have the assembly line work strategy.

If you’re a small start-up or small business with mostly like a WordPress Website; you can just hire a Web Designer, as I had mentioned before technology is making it easier to build websites. A lot of WordPress websites have pre-built themes that allows the designer to do 0% Coding. It’s just drag and drop features. Elementor is what I use a lot for my agency, and my clients. I build out websites with very little to almost no coding. After the Web Designer has built out your website, and if you need additional custom coding then you would hire a Web Developer experience with PHP and WordPress.

If you’re small company with a website not built in WordPress or you need little more than just a Web Designer and Developer tasks. You can hire Full-Stack Developer which can handle majority of the tasks you can give out to him. Front-End, Back-End, maintaining a website etc…

My name is Carlos Arias I over 20yrs experience working with agencies since 1999 and being a founder of his agency if 10yrs. I extensive experience to the digital marketing industry; From Graphic Design, Full Stack Development, Engineering, Server Management to Digital Marketing.  I started writing for my website to share my experience by writing some articles and answer questions from clients I train in digital marketing and business development.