Web Designer vs Web Developer: A Straightforward Comparison

Web designer vs web developer and their roles today are sometimes overlapped, but regardless of who is more important, both of them are the lifeblood of the World Wide Web.

Websites are increasingly becoming more interactive and visually mesmerizing, but to say this is because of the efforts of designers or developers will be an overstatement. To better understand the roles of these two groups of people, we compare them in details below.

1. Front-line development and back-line development

First, we need to understand that both web designer vs developer joins hands in the development of a website. A designer is dealing with the “front-end” of a web; a developer, on the other hand, deals with the “back-end”.

The “front-end”, or “designers” as they are known, focus primarily on the visuals and overall look of websites. They are the architects as opposed to the developers being the builders. They are intrigued with graphics, appearance and colours. Generally, they hold the view that making something work and ensuring that it is enjoyable to use is the most important factor to make a successful website.

Web designer vs web developer: A straightforward comparison

Web designer vs web developer: A straightforward comparison

They are always energetic people who are always on the creative side, always looking for new ideas and features. They are not afraid to experiment or change when it comes to artistic perfection. The importance of visuals has increased drastically with the advent of smartphones and tablets. In addition, when the world moves closer toward portability and convenience, web design trends follow those two principles as well.

On the other hand, the “back-end” development of a website refers to the developers themselves, who most of the time are more concerned with the inner workings of a website. They use more advanced programming skills to create interactions for the site (e.g. E-Commerce shopping carts on online retail stores), write codes that link users with the web’s databases, etc.
Web designer vs web developerThe developers provide the “skeleton” for a website on which designers can later work on to add organs, skins and muscles to make the site visually appealing. They lay down the foundations and create user interface (UI). Then working together with web designers to build on such foundations and achieve a final product.

2. Visual programming and functional programming

To further distinguish between web designer vs web developer, we need to take a look at the tools and methods they use to do their work.

Web designers deal more with customer-facing and “front-end” operations of a website. So, they technically are frequently familiar with HTML, CSS and JavaScript – the three pillar technologies of the World Wide Web to create contents and visuals for a website. Not only that, but they usually are also familiar with Adobe’s visual products such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator. These technologies enable them to be experts in graphic design, visual programming and colour scheme.

Web designer vs web developer

Web developers, however, since their primary work revolves around the “back-end”, inner workings of a website, they are more familiar with programming languages such as C, Python, .NET, PHP. They utilize these languages to develop UI, shortcuts, site buttons, site options, site functions, applications and more. Instead of programming for visuals, they program for functions and interface most of the time, but they still need to cooperate a lot with designers to make a good website.

3. Left brain and right brain

Another way of comparison is by defining them as left-brained or right-brained. Web designers, being in charge of visuals, artistic visions, looks and feel, are mostly right-brained individuals.

They have a very strong intuition, as their minds are always bursting with ideas. They are leaned towards creativity and imagination. And approach web issues in a non-linear manner and are experts in designing UX. There are no boundaries for their imagination, and they can offer reliable visual solutions quickly.

Web developers, however, are logic, linear and purely technical most of the time. Since their responsible is user interface creator, they can be considered perfectionists when it comes down to technical details and are obviously left-brained. They sometimes consider themselves as lacking artistic talent, but the truth is many people today like to blur the lines and handle both roles in web development.

4. Education and skill requirements of a web designer vs web developer:

For web designers, it is usually their portfolios that speak louder than their educational achievements. Portfolios highlight their past work more than university degrees, and it shows not only a person’s achievements but also their abilities to help employers identify the right candidates for jobs.

Web designer vs web developer

Web designer vs web developer

For web developers, things are quite different. Normally it is crucial for a developer to obtain a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree. They must have firsthand coding experience by creating some work of their own and submit to the recruiter later on. Web developers must always collaborate with application requirements from other partners and customers alike and work together with web designers since these two people must co-exist. A website is unusable without any of them.

In conclusion, whether the roles of web designer vs web developer overlap or are different to an extent, we can see that they must co-exist since, without either of them, a website can cease to exist. As mentioned earlier, to emphasize the role of which is better than the other is an overstatement. Therefore, it is important to take into account and recognize the talents of both web designer vs web developer alike and prevent confusion between the two of them.

Here is The Web infographic Story is about Web developers vs web designers:

Web Designer vs Web Developer: A Straightforward Comparison Infographic

Gender Split of developers

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The Anatomy of an Effective Web Design

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The Anatomy of Web Designers


Web Designers vs Developers – Another difference

David Nguyen – Savvycom Blog


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