WEB DESIGNER VS. WEB DEVELOPER: WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

One of the questions I get asked most often is "What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?". There are some very clear-cut differences, which I'll get into below, but truthfully, they can often overlap. I think this is why it can be confusing. But what are the main differences and which should you choose? Read on...

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WEB DESIGNER

Web designers create and direct all visual aspects of a website including graphics, photos, layout, fonts, color palettes, and interactivity, which can include color changes, mouse rollovers, moving images, etc.

This person usually has the following responsibilities:

  • Researching and designing concepts that are easy to use (user-friendly), beautiful, and engage the audience
  • Designing page layouts and interactions (i.e.: button turns pink when you click it)
  • Working closely with web developers during the process of building the website online 
  • Having an understanding of different audiences and interests with the ability to translate that into an interactive web space
  • Working collaboratively with content creators and copywriters to visually represent their work
  • Bringing a brand to life dynamically through layout, font selection, color palette and interactivity 
  • Overseeing a project’s entire creative process

 

 

When looking to hire a web designer, make sure they also have the following skills:

  • Knowledge and interest in current trends in design, both digital and print
  • Ability to to understand the client's perspectives or problems and come up with ideas that are clear and TKTK
  • Significant comprehension of how HTML, CSS, browsers, and devices all work together 
  • Ability to simplify solutions to problems and solve them through design 
  • A style that jives with your own
  • A strong portfolio of projects that are similar to yours

WEB DEVELOPER

(There are two main types of web developers, front-end or back-end. PRO TIP: If you're looking to build a website, that's front-end.)

A web developer is someone who uses HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create a website that a user interacts with directly through their web browser. Basically, they build the 'front-end' of the website (vs. the 'back-end' of a website which is like what you interact with when you login to a website, like WordPress).

This person usually has the following responsibilities:

  • Translating wireframes or design mock-ups to actual code that will produce visual elements
  • Bridging the gap between graphic design and technical implementation
  • Develop web pages for commercial and content management systems, or CMS platform (like WordPress)
  • Understanding of web development user experience best practices (i.e.: the logo should be at the top of every web page)
  • Having experience with and a deep understanding of web technologies including JavaScript/jQuery, CSS, PHP and HTML5 
  • Developing and implementing responsive websites (i.e.: does it look flawless on your tablet or phone AND your desktop computer?)

When looking to hire a web developer, make sure they also have the following skills:

  • Excellent problem solving skills (PRO TIP: Any good web dev. will tell you the job is about 98% problem solving!)
  • Experience working directly with graphic designers and website design mock-ups
  • If not hiring with a designer, developer should have excellent design and layout skills 

So now you know the difference but your still not sure which you should hire to build your website? This doesn't necessarily have a clear cut answer because it depends on you and what you're looking for. 

Personally, I recommend finding a web designer who knows a great web developers to help build custom WordPress sites. Otherwise, many web designers (like yours truly) typically know enough HTML and CSS to customize a pre-programmed website or theme, like this website. It simply depends on the project.

Hopefully this (long) list of differences will help you choose who's right for your web project. And if you're still confused or have more questions, just holla at me! I'm always happy to chat!