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What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?

 What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?

If you are thinking of looking for a career path in the web field but want to learn more about the difference between a web designer and web developer, this topic will serve as a comprehensive guide that shows you the tasks of each job and the things you must master in each one.

A web designer is a graphic artist responsible for designing a website's layout, usability, and visual appearance, and a web developer is someone who builds and maintains a website's infrastructure.

A successful web designer must possess a combination of creative, graphic, and technical skills. While the web developer is tasked with transforming the web design into a functional website, using programming languages ​​such as HTML, JavaScript, PHP and Python.

If you are considering a job as a web designer or web developer, you will need to understand the different tasks of each job, as well as know the qualifications and skills required. You should also consider other factors such as average pay, career growth opportunities, and the different types of web designers and developers.

In this guide, we'll explain the tasks of a web designer and web developer, and we'll also discuss how you can choose between the two paths based on the differences between the two fields.

Web designer tasks

The primary tasks of a web designer focus on creating the layout and visual aspects of a website. Often a designer's goal is to make sure the site is visually pleasing, easy to use, and encourages visitors to stay for as long as possible.

In addition, a web designer takes care of designing web pages in an optimal way to work across different devices, and needs to stay current with the latest web design trends and adhere to certain standards and best practices. A web designer often deals with brand imagery, color theory, fonts, etc.

There is a fair amount of research and testing in the web designer job, it is important to make sure that the website is designed in a way that meets the expectations of the users and the nature of the target customers.

The web designer will need to think about how their design will affect the programming process of the website that the developer will be working on. The designer creates a site structure and mockup, which the developer then codes.

A web designer's job typically includes some post-launch services, such as content creation and updating, maintenance services, monitoring, and ongoing performance checks.

Types of web designers

There are different types of web design, each focusing on a unique and specific type of work, namely:

1- User Experience (UX) Design: The user experience designer helps ensure that the website is organized in a way that attracts visitors and delivers a smooth browsing experience. His role is to create human-centred designs and data-driven decisions. This involves doing a lot of research and testing to collect and analyze data, which is used to inform final design choices. A user experience designer knows exactly how to design a website that their target audience will enjoy based on thorough research on potential users and website needs, and prototyping testing.

2- User Interface (UI) Design: The user interface designer plays an important role in website design. In addition to the experience it provides, it also prioritizes interactions. More specifically, its role is to enhance and improve the usability of the website in a way that helps encourage conversions. The UI designer translates the ideas and values ​​of the brand and makes it relevant to the website.

3- Visual designer: The visual designer works on the visual and creative elements of a website. This work brings together certain aspects of UX and UI design. The duties of a visual designer depend on ensuring that the interface is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Most web designers use quite a few tools and software to perform their tasks.

The skills a web designer needs

The skill sets that a web designer needs to succeed vary, depending on each person's specific role and specialization. However, some important skills include:

  • Knowledge of HTML and CSS
  • Understand web design principles and web accessibility standards
  • Create an interactive and responsive design
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Network Planning and Prototyping
  • Understand the nature of brand and color theory
  • Mastering various design tools and software

There is a set of side skills that a web designer needs, such as strong communication skills to properly communicate with clients and define and manage expectations and requirements for a project. The designer must also have the ability to collaborate with others and work within the team, especially with web developers, as it is important to ensure that the project runs smoothly.

Web Developer Tasks

The primary task of a web developer is to build and maintain the basic structure of a website. The developer role involves a lot of technical work including the use of advanced programming languages. In short, a web developer takes the ideas and concepts created by a web designer and then turns them into real, live websites that work with their full potential.

A web developer's duties include creating the website itself, and that means dealing with programming, server configuration and databases as well as integrating features and functionality that a user needs. The web developer performs testing and debugging and may handle a range of post-launch services, such as providing ongoing support, maintenance, and fixing server or hosting issues.

In short, it can be likened to the process of building a house, where the architect (in our case the web designer) creates the blueprints and design and lays the groundwork to ensure a sound structure, and the contractor who implements the construction (in our case the web developer) takes these blueprints and turns them into a website.

Types of web developers

A web developer usually focuses on a few programming languages. However, the languages ​​he uses will depend on the type of web development work he does. There are three main types of web developers:

Front-end developer: A front-end developer scripts the actual website using CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and other programming languages, as well as working with Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress. Front-end development involves programming the visual elements of a website that users will see. As such, there is a fair amount of overlap and collaboration between front-end developers and web designers.

Back-end developer: The backend developer codes the database and server using advanced programming languages ​​such as PHP, C#, Java, Ruby, and SQL, as well as NodeJS and other server-side frameworks. Back-end development includes those aspects of a website that happen "behind the scenes" that visitors from the front end don't see.

Full-stack developer: A full stack developer codes both the front-end and back-end of a website. The developer must have a solid understanding of how these parts work and overlap together. In addition to coding web pages with CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, a developer sets up and configures servers, code application programming interfaces (APIs), databases, and more.

The skills a web developer needs

At the very least, a web developer will need to be familiar with the following:

  • Programming and programming languages ​​such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP
  • JavaScript frameworks like jQuery
  • Test and debug
  • Hosting and databases
  • Content Management Systems
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In addition to technical skills, there are also non-technical skill sets that are useful as a web developer. This includes problem solving and analytical thinking, which can be useful during the debugging process. It is also important to have strong communication and collaboration skills to work with clients and other key parties (eg web designers). To perform the work perfectly, there are also a few tools and platforms that a web developer uses, including Jira for tracking software development problems, and GitHub for code release.

For testing and debugging, the developer often makes use of solutions like Chrome DevTools. It is also important to be familiar with the use of hosting control panels and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients such as FileZilla.

Now, what is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?

We hope that by now you have a better understanding of the main differences between a web designer and a web developer. Here is a summary that explains the differences based on what we mentioned in the previous paragraphs:

1- A web designer focuses on appearance and usability, while a web developer focuses on functionality and structure.

2- The web designer visualizes the idea and appearance of the site, and works on creating a mockup based on the visual elements, user experience and user interface. The web developer determines whether the concept is financially and technically reasonable and, if appropriate, code and program the site.

3- A web developer needs a great deal of technical knowledge, including an understanding of complex programming frameworks and languages, while the role of a web designer is limited to visual and creative elements despite the presence of tasks related to research and analysis.

4- There are three different types of web development which are front-end development, back-end development and full stack development. We also have three different types of web design which are user experience design, user interface design, and visual design.

5. The tools and software used by the web developer include libraries and frameworks for coding and releasing code, issue tracking and hosting platforms, control panels and content management systems. As for the web designer, it relies on design programs such as Photoshop, as well as some content management systems such as WordPress, in addition to network planning tools and prototyping.

6- The web developer focuses on the technical aspects of the project such as programming and coding, while the designer deals with the visual aspects and concepts.

7- Both the web designer and web developer play an important role in creating and maintaining websites. In order to provide a high-quality product to customers, cooperation between the two parties is required.

Tips for Choosing the Right Career Path for You - Based on the Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer

With so many companies moving online, now is the perfect time to start a career path related to web design or development. However, the first step is to find out which option is right for you.

To help you decide which career path suits you best, ask yourself which aspects of website creation you are most attracted to. For example, do you prefer visual design or do you like the idea of ​​coding a website? If you are interested in coding and programming, the role of web developer will probably be more satisfying for you, but if you are interested in design software and artistic and visual creativity, then the job of web designer will be right for you.

It is also important to explore opportunities for career advancement, demand, and potential for growth in each job, especially in the geographic area of ​​your country or even if you wish to work remotely.

Besides the above factors, financial aspects should not be neglected, as the average salary of a web developer and web designer varies based on several factors including your skills, level of experience, location and field of specialization. The more skills and experience you gain, the more money you can earn. But it is worth noting that the average salary of web developers is higher than the average salary of web designers.

Of course, desire alone is not enough, it is important to think about the skills that each job requires, which we mentioned earlier. It may be difficult to master certain skills or find it easier to master a particular skill, so always choose what you can master more efficiently or have more ability to do.

Finally, when considering whether you would like to become a web designer or web developer, consider the different disciplines and skills required for each field. If you are attracted to the practical and technical side of projects, a web developer is a reasonable career choice. If you are more interested in color theory, branding, and the creative elements, then a web designer is probably a suitable career choice for you.