Difference between a Web Designer and Web Developer

You may have heard these terms and figured they were just different titles for the same thing. However, whilst it is possible to have people who do both, they are both very different parts of an overall website design.

The Web Designer

The web designer is the person responsible for how the website looks. In the beginning they were experts at programs like Photoshop as a lot of website design centred around manipulating images. However today, they design the pages using code called HTML and CSS and in many cases only have a basic knowledge of image manipulation. Modern website design uses code to create the look and feel as it works better for responsiveness (mobile-friendly) and loads quicker.

Good web designers are also experts at the various different types of design principles such as:

  • User Experience (UX) Design
    This is where you design a website to make is as easy as possible for people to use. You look at how they interact with the menus and various buttons and how easily they can find what they are looking for.
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
    This is where you design a site to make it as easy as possble for someone to convert. A conversion is whatever you have designed the website for and is generally webforms, phone calls or sales; though can be other goals you are aiming for (eg. sign ups).

The Web Developer

The web developer is the person responsible for getting all the functionality that is needed on the website. They are the guys that build the platform that the web designers use to design the site. In building parlance, the developer is the engineer and construction crew, whilst the designer is the architect. In simple website designs built with website builders like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace, or simple Wordpress websites; a developer isn't really needed. However, if you are looking to build specific functionality or a website using leading edge technologies, you will generally need a web developer.

Web Developers can generally be divided into 3 main types:

  • Front End Development
    This is an extension of web design and involves getting functionality working on a web page. They will work closely with the web designers to get the required functionality working.
  • Back End Development
    These are the developer that build the platform to build the website on. They use a lot of complex software languages and need to understand servers and databases etc that are used for the website infrastructure.
  • Full Stack Development
    These developers can do both front and back end development.

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