Difference between a Web Designer and a Web Developer

Updated on March 7, 2017

Although a web designer and a web developer seem like the same thing, they are actually quite different. They both belong in the same industry, but their responsibilities in creating intuitive and functional websites are not the same. Both are rewarding careers, but specializing in one or the other is a good route to build a solid reputation in the industry.

Descriptions

Web Designer
Creating a wireframe during the web designing process

A web designer is generally responsible for creating the layout and aesthetics of a website. What visitors see on a website is the work of web designers. From color scheme to type faces, all of the visuals of a particular web page are the work of a web designer.

The skills necessary to become a successful web designer rely a lot on aptitude for artistic expression. Although it is possible to learn the theoretical aspect of designing, some people have an inherent advantage when it comes to art appreciation.

There are many tools that web designers use in order to create their work output. Most of these tools are types of software that enable them to express their visual concepts. Examples of such software are Photoshop, Illustrator, and even simple sketching software to use for wireframes and raw design concepts. Web designers also make use of regular pen and paper for faster drafts. However, this method is slowly becoming less common because of the prevalence of precise pen and tablet technologies.

web developer
Lines of codes for web development

A web developer works on the back end of website creation. This means that they provide the functionality for various features of the website such as buttons, links, forms, and more. Visitors viewing a website typically are unable to see the thousands of lines of codes that web developers have created. These codes serve logical functions that provide usable features for the site.

Web developers must possess expertise in different programming languages that websites make use of. It’s also important to have a problem-solving mindset in order to make sure that codes are in the correct order.

Web developers use a wide array of tools to compile their codes to make a working website. Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software is used to make it easier to run different files of codes together.

Web Designer vs Web Developer

What’s the difference between a web designer and a web developer? The answer might sound obvious. However, the line that separates these two professions is starting to blur. While web designers work primarily on aesthetics and web developers on website function, a lot of professionals today are able to work with both. But ultimately, specialization is still the best way to approach projects.

Web designers focus on channeling their creative side and making their creations come to life using appropriate tools. Web developers focus on the logical side of website creation and they have to make sure that the structure of their codes are as flawless as possible. Web designers deal with the appearance of websites and are referred to as front-end developers. Web developers work in the background to make websites function; thus they are called back-end developers.

The concept of being either right-brained or left-brained is a good picture of the difference between the two. People who are right-brain dominant tend to be gifted in arts and music, thus more akin to being a web designer. On the other hand, people who are left-brain dominant are gifted with a keen sense in analytical and logical thinking. This side of the brain represents web developers.

Comparison Chart

Web DesignerWeb Developer
Focuses on website layout and appearanceProvides functions for website elements
Front-end developmentBack-end development
Creates mock-ups and wireframeCarefully writes lines of code

Video

The video below provides more detail about the differences in the responsibilities of a web designer and a web developer.

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