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

Female Web Designer Working On dual monitors with a colour swatch and a laptop on her desk

A common question we are asked by our customers is “what is the difference between a web designer and a developer?”

At the most basic level, web designers design the pages of a website and hand off the design to a developer who brings it to life using code.

Most web design agencies, like our own web design company, perform both of these tasks but don’t differentiate between the creative arm and the development arm.

These web design jobs involve two completely different processes and if you stick around, we’ll tell you exactly how they differ.

What is the difference between a web designer and developer?

question mark on a sticky note against grained wood

We briefly touched on this distinction in the intro but I’ll give you a more thorough description of them to give you a better understanding of what they are.

Web designers deal with all the aesthetic standards of the website. They speak to the client, ask what they’re looking for, draw up a framework for the website based on this information, and pass it off to a developer.

The developer then takes the design and makes a working website from it. They use HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and other programming dialects to achieve this.

There are a bunch of CMS (Content Management System) websites developers can use to get the website online. At The Web Designer Group we use WordPress as not only is it the most used CMS system around today (it has approximately 59.7% of the CMS market share) it’s extremely user friendly for our clients.

We give our clients editor access to all the websites we design on our WordPress web hosting, teach them the basics in case they need to add content in the form of blogs or new pages, and install the WPBakery plugin so adding new elements to pages is easy.

What is a Web Designer?

A web designer makes your website look nice. They draw up the schematics for a website, much like an architect would, and hand it over to a developer who puts their vision into practice ready to showcase to potential visitors.

They use different types of code such as CSS and HTML to produce their layout designs which in turn makes it easier for developers to bring them to life.

Web designers also have specialisms which I’ll explain to you now.

User Experience (UX) Designer

UX Design

A UX web designer’s job is to keep a website’s audience engaged.

This type of design team focuses on improving ease of use, usability and pleasure between the customer and the website to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

They do this in a number of ways:

Competitor analysis helps them understand what their competitors are doing and whether it is engaging or not to their audience.

Customer analysis involves collecting information on what customers enjoy interacting with and deploying the best ones into the website design.

These are the two main areas of research UX web designers engage in before they start to design websites.

Next, the design team focuses on creating wireframes and prototypes to produce templates using their research and the information they’ve received from the customer.

After that, they coordinate with the UI designers and web developers to bring the website to life.

User Interface (UI) Designer

A UI web designer helps to improve the design produced by the UX designers. It’s their job to take the strategy produced by the UX web designers and improve the way users interact with its constituent elements.

The UI design team focuses on the look and feel of the website, by performing design research, branding and graphic development, prototyping and adapting the website for various devices.

Again, the UI web designers then liaise with the development team and the developer starts to build the site.

Overall, web designers focus on creating a strategy to improve ease of use for the visitor, research what customers enjoy interacting with and build a website design based on that information and the conversation they’ve had with the client.

UI Design title in the centre with illustrations explaining the process drawn around it

What is a Web Developer?

Web developers, sometimes referred to as programmers, use the design created by the web designers and turn it into a website.

They break the design into its constituent elements and code them ready for the site.

We mentioned how the web designers are the architects of the website world, well, the developers are the builders.

However, instead of using bricks and mortar they use coding languages such as HTML and PHP to build a website.

Again, there are varied specialisations within the web developer role that focus on specifics. Here are the main ones:

Back-end Developer

Back-End Developer Vacancy in Newspaper. Job Seeking Concept.

This is where the core structure for the site is built. These developers are experts in Java, HTML, PHP and so on, and all of their work is invisible to the customers. Even if the customer were to see the coding, they wouldn’t understand the language.

This is also referred to as server-side development and their job is to use technology to make the web apps function properly.

Aside from this, back-end developers optimise the applications for speed and efficiency. They also create a data storage solution with a database that stores information such as user comments, posts, etc.

Front-end Developer

This type of development, also known as client-side development, is more connected to web design than back-end development. It involves using HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create visual elements for customers to see.

The objective of this type of development is ensuring visitors to your website find it easy to read and relevant to what they’re looking for. It’s all about accessibility.

They also need to make sure the website is as pleasing to the eye and interactive on different types of devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions. It needs to be user-friendly in various browsers as well.

Conclusion

There are clear differences not only between web designers and web developers, but between specialisations within those industries.

The boundaries aren’t always clear and there are experts in both fields who can perform all the different specialisations.

At The Web Designer Group we have experts in both the web development and web designer fields who create bespoke websites from only £495.

If you’d like a free quote for a website today, click the button below to get started!