What is the difference between a web designer and web developer

Website knowledge
What is the difference between a web designer and web developer

Are you looking to engage with someone to build your new website but unsure if you need a web designer and web developer or just one? This article is for you! We have broken down each role to help you spot the difference between a web designer and web developer.

Key difference between a web designer and web developer

Don’t want to read the whole article? The key difference between a web designer and web developer is one is usually artistically inclined (design) and the other is technically inclined (development).

In a nutshell, a web designer is responsible for visual appearance of the website. For example the layout and usability. This means they are very creative – visually. On the other hand, a web developer is responsible for building the site with code and maintains the structure of the website. Therefore, they are more technical when it comes to website creation.

In saying that, there is no reason you can not be BOTH. We are a web designer and web developer type of agency. So, you get the best of both worlds with us. Visually pleasing websites that are functional!

A web designers job

A website designer is someone who creates the look and feel of a website. Their role revolves around the layout and visual aspects of the website. This is done through a variety of concepts including graphics, typography, colour, layout, spatial elements and more. A good designer will get creative with the audience and user experience in mind. The design side of websites is usually thought to be the creative and artistic side. This type of work sparks an individual’s creative flair and design imagination.

Another aspect of a designer’s role is to create conversion-generating elements. This involves keeping the audience at the forefront of their design work. The user experience is paramount in website conversions. One of the biggest roles in user experience is designing a website that translates well across all devices. This is particularly important now Google has declared ‘mobile first’ ranking (i.e. keep the mobile visitors happy!).

Most web designers use editing software such as Adobe Suite. More specifically Photoshop and Illustrator. Some graphic designers who offer web design as a service use CMS platforms like Squarespace and Wix. While these platforms are fine, they are limiting. There are more advanced and non-limiting platforms available like WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS platform although it is a little harder in some technical design and development aspects. Another tool designers use is a page builder like Elementor or Divi.

Skills a web designer needs:

  • Graphic design
  • Understanding of web standards
  • Responsive design
  • Conversion rates / generating
  • Branding
  • Colour psychology
  • Typography
  • Communication skills
  • People skills
  • Team player

The two main types of web designers:

  • UX:
    UX is known as User Experience. Basically it is how a user feels after using the website.
  • UI:
    User Interface (UI) Design is the creation of graphics and use of photography and typography to enhance the layout of a website within its various device views.
web designer and web developer comparison

A web developers job

If a designer focuses on the outside, the developer focuses on the inside. They work with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a website. Meaning, complex code and the technical side of a website are all part of the developers world. A developer is familiar with the website language of love – HTML, Javascript, JQuery and CSS. They focus on building a website with clean code and technical requirements for a strong successful site. With a focus on detail, a web developer uses code to bring a designer’s work to life online. This includes coding and configuring a web server and databases on the back end. On top of this they combine code and technical flair to incorporate features and functionality.

Some skills a developer needs:

  • Coding language such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP
  • Web hosting and databases
  • Content management systems (cms)
  • Debugging of errors
  • Search engine Optimisation
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • People skills
  • Team player

There are different types of web developers:

  • Front-end developer
    The front end is the part of a website that users interact with directly. It is also referred to as the ‘client-side’. It includes everything that users experience directly: text colours and styles, images, graphs and tables, buttons, colours and navigation.
    Essentially it is the structure, design, behaviour, and content of everything seen on a browser screen. Responsiveness is the main objective for a front end developer
  • Back-end developer
    Backend is the server-side of a website. It stores data and also makes sure everything on the front-end works fine. It is the part of the website that users do not see or interact with.

Web Designer and Web Developer: What’s the difference?

Hopefully we have clearly explained the differences between a web designer and a web developer. As a recap, the key differences are:

  • A designer focuses on appearance and usability and a developer focuses on structure and function.
  • A designer creates a design concept combining their skill set. A developer then uses their skill set to convert the design into code to bring the website to life.


While there are a number of obvious differences in what a designer and developer does, more and more website experts are offering both services. That’s us!! We pride ourselves on building a website that is both functional and easy on the eye. Why? Because it is imperative that these two work simultaneously. You can not have a successful website with one and not the other. It is as simple as that.

From reading the above differences you would probably have noticed that one is artistically inclined and one is technically inclined. Being both may be a conflict on the right hand side / left hand side of the brain debate. (You know left-handed is the critical, logical, and technical side. With the right side being creative and imaginative.) But we think the two worlds can collide perfectly. Whilst you may be slightly better at one over the other, having the ability to do both is a huge advantage.

Why? Sometimes a creative and a tech working together can cause conflict. That being said, there would be plenty of ways to remove or work with the issues that may arrive. But we still think the advantage is in having the ability to do both design and development. A true understanding of each role will enhance the end result with a beautiful functional website.

Want to know how we meticulously weave function and design into our websites? Contact us to discuss your website and how we can help you find the balance.

Need help with your website?

Looking for a partner who can help guide you with website design and development or completely take the reigns and steer your site to new heights? 

  • Need help updating your current Shopify or WordPress site?
  • Want a completely new website for your serivce or products?
  • Not sure where to start but want an approachable and easy going designer to help?
  • Ready to take the plunge into business growth and take your online reputation seriously?

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