Web Designer vs Web Developer: What You Need To Know

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So, you think you would enjoy a tech career? We think you will enjoy it as well. It is a fast-paced, constant innovation field with many opportunities for upward mobility. Whatever great treasury of knowledge you have at the beginning of your career, you can be sure most of it will be obsolete in a couple of years. You’ll get to relearn many new interesting things and find yourself consistently intellectually and creatively challenged. 

Tech is a growing field with an increasing number of entry-level opportunities. But where in tech do you want to work? Today we’re talking about the differences between two roles that are often confused – web designer and web developer. We’ll look at each role, the types of each, and the skill sets each position requires. We’ll help you make an informed choice between these two impressive jobs. 

Related: How to Become A Computer Programmer in 2023

What is a Web Designer?

A web designer is a tech professional responsible for a website’s visual appearance, layout, and useability. A web designer designs a website. Their goals are to make the website visually appealing and easy to use. These properties cause users to visit the site more frequently and stay on for longer. Of course, websites exist for reasons and are accessed by all devices – which the web designer must accommodate. If the website is an eCommerce site, there will also need to be some form of conversion-generating features for the sale of products or services. 

Web designers should have current knowledge of trends in web design and be committed to producing work that represents best practices and industry standards. As well as being a ‘techy’ role, web designing is also creative as they use color palettes, fonts, brand imagery, etc. 

What is a Web Developer?

Two web programmers creating a website together

On the other hand, a web developer is a professional responsible for programming the code that informs the behavior of the website and its applications. Some web developers also design the site layout, visual design, graphics, and web pages. Additionally, they strive to optimize the site and its capacity, regardless of the kind of device used to access it. 

It could be argued that the role of the web developer is techier because they must also know how to write code for web programming.   

Related:  Is Programming Hard to Learn? What You Need to Know


The demands of website design and development mean that neither role is straightforward. Here are the types of each: 

The Types of Web Designers

  • UI Designers: This type of web designer focuses on making the site useable and interactive for the user. They prioritize the conversion features to maximize the user’s ability to navigate the pages to get to conversion. 
  • UX Designers: This kind of web designer focuses on the user’s experience on the site. For them, it’s all about the way the user may engage with elements of the website and creates a positive on-site experience. A significant amount of research is done with this type of web designer to ensure the site design is human-centric. 
  • Visual Designers: A visual web designer is focused on the visual aspects of the website. Similar to the other two types of web designers, this one wants to ensure the user finds the site aesthetically appealing and enjoys being on it. This role entails a sound knowledge of associated software and creative design. 

The Types of Web Developers?

  • Back-End Web Developer: This type of web developer is responsible for what you don’t see on a website – they code the database and server using programming languages like C#, PHP, Ruby, Java, SQL, and other server-side frameworks. Back-end web development is also called server-side development and mainly consists of the unseen elements of web development. 
  • Front-End Web Developer: This web developer codes the website with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other coding languages. Front-end development is also called client-side development because it consists of coding and programming the parts of the website you can see. This role is very similar to that of web designers. 
  • Full-Stack Web Developer: These web developers do front- and back-end website development. They’re good at understanding and integrating the front and back end, and they can code web pages using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. These developers can also set up query databases, configure servers, code Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), etc.

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Web designers and web developers have unique skill sets to carry out their roles. There may also be some overlap, but here are the skill sets of each: 

The Web Designer Skill Set

A web designer should learn the following skills:

  • HTML and CSS Codes
  • Responsive & Interactive Web Design
  • The Principles of Website Design & Accessibility Standards
  • User Journey Mapping
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
  • Color Theory, Branding, and Typography
  • Wireframing and Prototyping
  • Design Tools and Software

Additionally, non-tech skills are also needed. A web designer should be able to communicate well with clients and collaborate well with a team to create a great final product. 

The Web Developer Skill Set

A proficient web developer should operate with the following skills:

  • HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and PHP coding and programming languages
  • Back-ends and Databases
  • JavaScript Frameworks
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Testing and Debugging
  • Content Management Systems

The non-tech skills include analytical thinking, problem-solving, good communication, and collaborative skills for working with teams and clients. 

Related: Learn to Code: A Guide for Aspiring Web Developers

Deciding Which You Would Like to Be

When considering these two exciting career paths, here is a summation of the key differences:

  • Web designers are occupied with the aesthetic and usability of the website, while web developers are concerned with its structure and functionality.
  • Web designing is an interesting and exciting career involving research and analysis. Still, it is less techie than a web developer who must know complex programming languages and frameworks. 
  • Web designers create the idea and overall look of the website with mockups, but the web developer will determine if the concept is viable. 
  • There are three types of each: Web designers – UX, UI, and visual designers. Web developers – back-end, front-end, and full-stack developers. 

Both of these career paths are integral to the future of our world. More and more goods and services are available online, so the need for good websites is also increasing. Excellent web designers and developers are needed to build and maintain effective websites.

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