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Web Designer vs. Web Developer – What’s the Difference?

By May 18, 2017 No Comments

What do the terms ‘Web Designer’ and ‘Web Developer’ really mean? Can someone be both? Who should I hire when I’m looking for someone to build my website or custom application? When comparing a web designer and a web developer, it can be confusing to know which is the best fit for your project. Each have a unique set of skills meaning that one may align better with your project than the other.

The differences between a web designer vs. web developer:

What skills does a web designer have?

A web designer’s focus is mainly on the front-end or, look-and-feel of a site. They design components with the end user in mind. Tasks include developing wireframes, designing logos, creating page layouts, and building high-quality website concepts. A web designer will have deep knowledge of design programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator and have a knack for picking colors, font types, and other important page elements.

Web designer vs. web developer

In many cases, however, their task list can be much greater than this. Usability is something that is constantly on a web designer’s mind. In addition to making a site look gorgeous, web designers want to make their layouts functional, simple to browse, and easy to scan. Depending on the size of the company you might even see someone listed as a UX or UI designer. In which case, their main focus is on this user interaction.

What types of projects does a web designer lead?

When comparing a web designer vs. a web developer the types of projects they lead can vary depending on the company. Typically, a web designer will lead projects with a focus on front-end design. For example, at Web Ascender our web designers will take the lead on many of our WordPress sites. Typically, for these types of projects our web designers will have direct contact with the client all throughout the site building process. This means that the designer will help establish the foundation of the website starting with their brand guidelines and moving all the way to the final content creation on the website. This is not only an efficient process but it also creates a more meaningful relationship with our clients from start to finish and beyond. Our web designers will also focus on a Launch + Growth™ approach meaning that the website’s design and features will be built off of how visitors actually interact with the website and the feedback that is received.

What skills does a web developer have?

A web developer can be broken down into two categories, front-end development and backend development.

Front-end developers are well-versed in coding technologies such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. They can take a website design and completely convert it into usable code. In some cases a web designer can also be considered a front-end developer depending on their skill set (this is true at Web Ascender). 

web designer vs. web developer

Back-end developers work with back-end, or server-side technologies. A custom web application is a perfect situation where the skills of a back-end developer are required. They will have a deep knowledge of programming languages such as Ruby, PHP, ASP, and Java. As with web designers, their skill sets can vary greatly. In some companies a web developer might have knowledge of mobile architectures for building mobile applications for iPhone (Objective-C & Swift) and Android (Java). In other situations a web developer might manage database environments or provide server management and security and administration services.

web designer vs. web developer

What types of projects does a web developer lead?

As with a web designer, the role of a web developer can vary depending on the company. A web developer is typically a technical powerhouse. They will lead projects that involve custom mobile or web application development. At Web Ascender, our web developers are skilled in a variety of programming languages with a focus on Ruby on Rails , iOS and Android. A web developer is a great choice for your project if you have an idea for a mobile or web application, because they will have the skill set to get the job done right.

Take Away

When comparing whether to hire a web designer vs. web developer for your next web project, it’s important to first assess your project’s scope. A web designer is the perfect choice when your web project requires a beautiful new design and technology modernization (like migrating from DNN to WordPress). On the other hand, a web developer is a great option to develop your custom web or mobile application and to bring your unique idea to fruition. Although different, both web designers and web developers work together in many situations to create beautiful and functional web projects.

Wondering whether you need to hire a web designer or web developer for your project? Schedule a discovery call with a Web Ascender team member!

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