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Heritier Akilimali
Heritier Akilimali

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How do web designers and developers differ?

Do you want to pursue a career in web design or development? Could you tell me the difference between a web designer and a web developer? Learn more here.

Generally, a web designer is a graphic artist who creates the layout, usability, and visual aesthetics of a website. Developers are responsible for building and maintaining a website’s core structure.
Creative, graphic, and technical skills are essential for a successful web designer.

Whether you’re considering a career as a web designer or developer, you’ll need to gain an understanding of the different roles, as well as the skills and qualifications required. It is also advisable for you to take into account factors like average salaries, career growth opportunities, and types of web designers and developers that are available.
We’ll break down the roles of a web designer vs. a web developer and explain how you might choose between them. Ready?

What is the role of a web designer?

The tasks and responsibilities of web designers are varied. The designer’s role is mainly to create the layout and visual elements of a website.
To encourage visitors to stay on a site as long as possible, they try to make it both visually appealing and user-friendly. In addition to the general framework and layout structure, conversion-generating elements also need to be considered and designed, as well as planning web pages that are easily accessed across multiple devices.
Web designers need to stay ahead of the latest trends and follow certain guidelines. It usually involves brand imagery, color palettes, fonts, etc. Some even make a web design style guide so that each website looks the same:
In addition to these key documents and resources, designers have to administer and oversee a few others. Among them are:
Website design contracts
and briefs, Questionnaires for website design Proposals.

The job of a web designer involves a lot of research and testing, too. A website’s design should satisfy users’ expectations and clients’ specifications.
Moreover, web designers must be aware of how their design affects the coding of a website. The designers make a site structure and mockup, then developers put it all together.
Designers’ work usually includes some post-launch services too. They may also offer content creation and updating services, maintenance and monitoring, and ongoing performance checks.

There are various types of web designers

Each type of web designer specializes in a specific type of work. These include:

UX (User Experience)
UI (User Interface)

Having a clear understanding of these roles will help you decide which web design niche is best for you.

UX Designers
Designers of UX help ensure that websites are structured in such a way as to engage visitors and present them with a positive experience. Based on data-driven decisions, they create human-centric designs. To do this, they gather and analyze data, which informs their final design decisions.

UI Designers

Designers of user interfaces also play a crucial role in the design of a website. The user experience, as well as interactions, are their top priorities. Their job is to make a website more usable and to optimize it in a way that results in conversions.
Visual Designers

Layout and visual elements of a website are the responsibility of visual designers, as the title suggests. Their work combines certain aspects of UX and UI design. An interface designer’s duties are based on the fact that they have to make sure that a user’s experience is both aesthetically pleasing and intuitive.

For the most part, web designers use a few different tools, software, and programs to perform their tasks. One of the most important products in this category is designing and editing software and programs, such as Adobe Photoshop.
Other resources they may use include stock photography, image optimization, and compression software. Furthermore, web designers often use a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, and a website building platform like Elementor:
Tools such as wireframes and prototypes can also be helpful. Designing a site framework with tools like these lets web designers visualize the finished product and then create mockups and models to test during the development process.
Web Designers Need These Skill Sets To be successful, web designers require different skill sets, depending on their specific roles and specialty.

In general, the following skills are essential:
Knowledge of HTML and CSS,
principles of website design and web accessibility standards
Understanding of responsive and interaction design
CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)
Mapping of the user journey
Prototyping and wireframing
Color theory, typography, and branding
Tools and software for design
In addition to technical skills, web designers need to possess several non-technical skills. To set and manage expectations with clients, strong communication skills are necessary. As well, being able to work with others on a team, such as web developers, is essential to a successful project.

What is the role of a web developer?
The main duty of a web developer is to create and maintain the core structure of the website. They are tasked with a lot of technical work, including complex coding and advanced programming. To put it simply, they take the ideas and concepts laid out by designers and turn them into a real, live, and fully-functional website.
In more specific terms, the duties of a web developer include creating the website itself. This includes setting up a server and database on the back end, as well as adding user-facing features. In addition to testing and debugging, they also provide ongoing support and maintenance, and fix server or hosting problems.
The role of a web developer may be better understood by comparing it to another industry, such as construction. To a website, a web developer is like a construction company to a new house. The developer builds the foundation for the website following the blueprints and design plans drafted by the architect (web designer).
There are different kinds of web developers
Most web developers specialize in one or two programming languages. However, the languages they use will differ depending on the type of web development they do.

There are three major types of web developers:
Front-end Developer
Back-end Developer
Full-stack Developer

*Front-End Web Developers *
Developers who work on the front-end code the website using CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and other programming languages, as well as Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress. Known as client-side development, front-end development involves coding and programming the visual elements of a website that users will see. In this sense, there is a lot of collaboration and overlap between front-end developers and web designers.

Back-End Web Developers
Back-end developers code the database and server in such languages as PHP, C#, Java, Ruby, and SQL, as well as NodeJS and other frameworks. In back-end development, also known as server-side development, we focus on the elements of a website that occur behind the scenes that visitors won’t see directly.

Full-Stack Web Developers
Finally, full-stack developers code both the front end and back end of a website. They have a deep understanding of how both parts work together. A full-stack developer not only codes web pages in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript but also configures servers, develops APIs, queries databases, and more.

Web Developers Need These SkillsTo fulfill their roles, web developers need certain technical skills.

These include:
JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and PHP
using frameworks like jQuery
debugging and testing
databases and back-ends
of content management systems (such as WordPress).
SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

An effective web developer needs not only technical skills but also non-technical ones. This is especially true of problem-solving and analytical thinking, both of which can be useful during the debugging process. As a web designer, it is important to have solid communication and collaboration skills to work with clients and other participants in the project (such as web designers).
It should be noted that web developers also use many different tools and platforms as part of their work. Among these are Jira for issue tracking and GitHub for code versioning:
Additionally, developers often use Chrome DevTools for testing and debugging. It’s also important to learn how to use hosting control panels and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients like FileZilla.

What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?
By now, you should have a clearer idea of the key differences between a web developer and a web designer. As a final note, let’s take a quick look at the most significant differences between these two roles:
Designers are concerned with the appearance and usability of products, while developers are concerned with functionality and structure.

Using visual, UX, and UI elements, web designers conceptualize the idea and look of a website. The web developer determines whether the concept is financially and technically feasible, and if so, codes and program the website.
Web developers must have a great deal of technical knowledge. For example, they must be familiar with complex programming languages. The role of the web designer is more about the visual and creative aspects of a website rather than research and analysis.

Web developers can be classified as front-end, back-end, or full-stack. Web designers fall into three primary categories: UI, UX, and visual designers.
A web developer’s tools and programs typically include code libraries, frameworks, code versioning, and issue tracking platforms such as GitHub and Jira, hosting control panels, FTP clients, and CMSs. A web designer typically works with design editing software like Photoshop, a content management system like WordPress, a website builder like Elementor, as well as wireframing and prototyping tools.
Web developers and designers both play key roles in building, constructing, and maintaining websites. Ultimately, the two roles are dependent on each other to deliver quality products.

The main difference is that developers focus primarily on the technical aspects of a project, such as coding and programming. The designers are responsible for ensuring that the UX and UI are effective and appealing.
Career Paths: Tips for Choosing the Right One
Businesses are shifting online, making this a great time to build websites. To begin, you will need to decide if you want to work as a designer or a developer.

Identify which aspects of website creation most appeal to you to determine which career path is right for you. Are you drawn to the idea of coding a website or are you interested in visual design? In the latter case, a career as a web developer may be more satisfying.
Additionally, we recommend exploring opportunities for career advancement, industry demand, and growth potential for each role. If you conduct a quick search on the Internet, you will be able to find plenty of web design jobs, as well as web development job opportunities on both the freelance and agency levels.

Naturally, it’s important to think about the financial aspects of your project as well. There is no standard salary for web developers and web designers, as salaries are determined by many factors, such as skill sets, experience levels, location, and experience levels. Inevitably, at the end of your career, you’ll be able to charge your clients more as you acquire more experience and sophisticated skills.
In addition to reviewing the skills and attributes required by each position, which we described earlier, you can decide whether you want to become a web developer or a web designer. Identify the skills you believe you have or would love to develop. Having limited knowledge of one field doesn’t necessarily preclude a career in that field.

If you are just starting, there are plenty of resources you can use to expand your skillset. It’s possible to sharpen your skills and advance your career with the help of web design books, online courses, and development resources.
We recommend you check out some of these resources now so that you can gain a better understanding of what the job of a web designer or developer entails. After that, you can begin to pursue the opportunities that will be most rewarding to you, both personally and financially. You might even be ready to start your own web design business one day!

How to Become a Web Designer or Developer?
Web designers and web developers may seem similar, but their roles and responsibilities are very different. Designing for a website’s front-end and visual elements directly affect its usability and overall user experience. On the other hand, developers are responsible for taking the concepts and ideas presented by designers and translating them into functional websites.

Consider the different specializations and required skill sets of becoming a web designer vs. a web developer when deciding your career path. As a web developer, you’ll get a chance to work with the pragmatic, technical side of projects. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in color theory, branding, and the creative aspects of building websites, becoming a web designer would be more practical.
Do you have questions about how to get your feet wet in the world of web design & development? Leave a comment below.

Discussion (1)

marcellahaller profile image

Good post without too much information! Here is more detailed material about the role of a UX designer, his skills and responsibilities Great material for beginners.