What’s the Difference Between a Web Developer & a Web Designer?

Do you know the difference between a web designer and a web developer? If not, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. It’s a little confusing because it seems like the work done by a designer and a developer are very similar. However, designers and developers have their own distinct skill sets.

In this article, we’ll help you learn the difference between web developers and web designers, and more.

What is a Web Developer?

A web developer is a programmer, who takes the designer’s concepts and uses these to create a website. Developers use HTML or programming languages (code) to build each part of the site. Some web developers may also use a CMS (Content Management System) to facilitate building the site.

In other words, a web developer builds the website and ensures it’s fully functional.

When it comes to wed developers, you’ll also find that there are some who specialise in specific areas:

  • Back-end developer: you may have heard a reference to the website’s “back-end.” This is a reference to the core structure of the site. Back-end developers specialise in programming and may use language such as C#, Java, and SQL. The work of these developers is not seen; this is because their focus is coding on databases and servers. They must tie together the front-end and the site’s database. Developers may also be involved in testing and fixing bugs.
  • Full-stack developer: this is a person who works across different layers (also called stacks). They’re usually involved in the front- and back-ends of the site, and other areas.
  • Front-end developer: this is the person who works with what the user will see on the site. The front-end developer uses HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to create the visual aspects of a website. The front-end developer also works closely with the web designer to create those site elements that will be visual to the site users.

A web developer’s skill set usually includes:

  • Knowledge of HTML/CSS/JavaScript
  • Responsive design
  • Frameworks
  • Libraries
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Testing & debugging
  • SEO
  • Know how to manage daily maintenance of existing sites
  • Be able to use tools common to developers: NetBeans, Notepad++, Sublime Text, Divvy, and more

What is a Web Designer?

The web designer is responsible for creating layouts of the website, and ensuring the site is visually appealing to site users. The goal is to keep users on the site longer, so the designer must research webs design trends, create a site according to web design principles, and use design elements in a way that users expect.

Web designers must also take into account their client’s branding and integrate them into the website’s design. Just as there are different types of web developers, there are also different types of web designers:

  • UX designers: are concerned with the user experience. They ensure the visitors stay on the site longer. UX designers may also run tests to see what works best to improve the UX.
  • UI designers: are involved with the user interface of the site and how users interact with the site. These designers work to make sure all interactions are smooth and comfortable for users. Their goal is to design the site to the user’s expectations.
  • Visual designers: create interfaces that are easy to use and visually appealing, while also staying true to their client’s brand. Visual designers need a mix of programming and creative skills.

When it comes to skill set, web designers must know:

  • The principles of design
  • Understand typography, and the best way to deliver a specific message.
  • Have a good understanding of colour theory
  • How to use the tools of the trade: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and more
  • UX
  • UI
  • Graphic design
  • Layout & navigation principles
  • Responsive design

Which Do You Need—a Web Designer or a Web Developer?

We’ve reviewed the differences between a web designer and a web developer. But how do you know which one is needed on a specific project? Here are some examples of when to use a web developer vs a web designer.

1). Build a contact form: you’ll need a web developer for this job.

2). Design the layout for a homepage: this job requires a web designer.

3). Create new branding for website: you’ll need a web designer here.

4). Fix server/hosting issues: this job requires a web developer.

5). Edit photos and videos: this is the job of a web designer.

6). Routine maintenance of sites and applications: this job is for a web developer

7). Visualise how a site will look

How Much Does a Web Developer Cost Compared to a Web Designer?

When it comes to cost, a freelance web developer averages between £22.11 to £47.92 per hour. A freelance web designer averages about £7.37 to £36.86 per hour.

If you’re considering a medium-sized web design agency, the average cost is about £47.92 to £73.72 per hour. Keep in mind that an agency usually provides both web design and web developer services.

The average cost of building a website, using both designers and developers, runs about £4422.98.

What About Using a Web Design Agency?

Building a website from scratch requires the work of both a web designer and a web developer. In fact, working with a team, like an agency, can give you the best of both worlds. All communications, invoicing, and the entire project is managed by one agency team, rather than by separate freelancers. This may be also be a more cost-effective solution, rather than paying individual service providers.

Another plus is that an agency usually assigns a project manager to oversee and manage projects from start to finish. They make sure the designers and developer keep a specific project going in the right direction. A project manager can also ensure the project stays on track to finish on time.

Not only that but you’ll have a custom-designed site and be able to benefit from the experience and knowledge that a team brings to your project. A web design agency can also ensure the site’s SEO is on target and that the site appears in the top of search results.

If your company wants to build a completely new website, then the services of a web designer and a web developer will be needed. Whether you choose to go with freelancers or an agency, web developers and web developers can make your site exactly what site users want and expect.

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