Web Designer vs Web Developer: What is the Difference?

So are you a web designer or a web developer? Can you even tell the difference, or do you dabble in both because you have no idea where one starts, and the other ends? Well, get a mug of coffee, and go easy on yourself because many other people can’t tell the difference either.

In today’s post, we’ll lift the shroud of mystery off these two terms, or rather professions, so you can establish where you stand. And what you need to do to redefine yourself. Without wasting another second, let’s get to it.

The Web Designer

Let us start with simple definitions. A web designer concerns himself/herself with how the website looks. He/she helps build the front-end, which is the side of the website users see on their browsers. They design how the site will look, and may not necessary write any code.

They are skilled in graphic design, and will design everything from the logo, to banners, the layout, and everything in between. Special skills in typography and an eye for great design are an added advantage to any web designer.

The Web Developer

On the other hand, the web developer builds the entire website/app code for code. They take care of all the website functions – all the back-end functionality that’s often hidden from the user. From making sure forms work to building databases, and installing systems (e.g. payment solutions), the web developer forte is the back-end.

He/she writes the code and develops core features. They translate the design tabled by the web designer into computer code (e.g. HTML) that’s displayed in web browsers. The web developer is skilled in at least one programming language. Special skills in certain web technologies, and an appetite for logical problem solving will endear the web developer to clients.

You can also become a web designer, the cocktail you get when you mix web designer and web developer. You can be both at the same time, which makes you even more attractive to clients from all over the world.

Web Designer vs Web Developer Personality

While this will vary from person to person, there are general personality traits common either to web designers or web developers. Only you can decide the career path you want to pursue; possessing any of these personality traits has nothing to do with the job you decide to do eventually. They’re simply traits common to either profession.

Web designers are generally the artsy types. In a different life, they would be painters, fully armed with paint brushes, canvas, and the works. In a parallel universe, they’d probably be strict disciplinarians, but that’s not the point.

Web designers derive most of their creations from imagination and intuition. Are you into arts, and graphic design? If that’s a resounding yes, web design can be a lucrative career choice for you. At the end of the day, web designers are known to attack an idea and run with it, so much like a painter on canvas.

On the other hand, web developers are logical thinkers – people who derive excitement from solving problems. They mostly write the base code that makes the different parts of the website to work in unison.

A web developer doesn’t concern him/herself with the aesthetics, but how the code will solve the problem at hand. They are so keen on specifics to a point of perfectionism. Technical ability and logical thinking are a web developer’s strongholds.

Education Background

While both web designers and web developers rely on soft skills as well as hard skills to navigate the intricate world of web design. The education they receive (and need) live on two different sides of the same spectrum.

Web designers are primarily trained graphic designers, with a burning interest in all things art. They are well trained in concepts such as user experience, audience, spatial relationships, color, and typography.

Web developers are either programmers or computer science specialists. They don’t focus on aesthetics, but on the backbone of websites, which means they need to be well-versed in at least one programming language.

Web Designer vs Web Developer Tools

Web designers and web developers have a few tools they rely on a day to day basis. Tools that make the job easier, and even more fun.

A web designer’s favorite tool is an image manipulating program. You’ll often catch a web designer using tools such as InDesign, Illustrator, and – my personal favorite – Adobe Photoshop. The designs they create are then handed over to the web developer where they’re turned into code.

The web developer, however, doesn’t concern himself with image editing software unless he has to. His/her favorite tool is the code editor such as Notepad++ (my fave), TextWrangler, or SublimeText among others. The web developer will learn programming languages such as HTML + CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery. Other programming languages include PHP, Python, and Ruby among others.

Web Developer + Web Designer = Web Devigner?

Coined by developer types, devigner is the unofficial term used to refer to the guy/girl that develops but secretly wants to be a designer. You can be both, and be incredibly good at both. You just need to learn the code, and simply be awesome. Oh, and remember to charge the right rates.

What’s More?

As we have seen, there’s only one big difference between web designers and web developers. The former works on aesthetics, and the latter on functionality. Both work towards the same goal; creating visually appealing, and usable websites or apps.

The question of the hour is, which are you; a web designer or a web developer?

Image source: ebrainer.net

Freddy Muriuki
info@vistamediainc.com

Freddy is a writer, web developer and founder of Vistamedia, Inc., a nice place dedicated to the online entrepreneur looking to boost conversion rates using effective web content. Follow @vistamediainc on Twitter and vistamediainc on Facebook.

1Comment
  • Katherine Nova
    Posted at 12:06h, 25 June Reply

    Hi…
    thanks for sharing this difference with us. I was very much confused and i searched for this i found your blog.
    this is really very helpful for me.Now my all doubts are clear.please keep sharing such blog with us.
    web design delhi

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