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    Web Developer vs. Web Designer, How Do You Differentiate

    By Derek Robinson

    Everywhere you look, you will not miss someone calling themselves a web developer or a website designer. So, what do these terms mean? Can a person be both and what are the differences. Because of the confusion that people have, you will find a person looking for a web designer while what they actually need is a web developer. This has always been a topic of debate because people do not really understand what these two professionals do in the process of building a website. For this reason, we will look at web developers vs. web designers, how do you differentiate them and the actual part they play in website building.


    It is important that we look at each of the profession on its own. To differentiate them, look at the parts they play together to make a functioning website.

    Web Designers

    A designer designs the website. They use programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign to create the visual aspect of the web site. Once this is done, it is merged with coding which brings the website to life.


    The designer is in most cases not the person writing the code. His work is to simply create the components that the website will have including the layout. They will then hand over this design to another expert who will write the code and make it a functional website.


    A large part of the work the designer completes is based on imagination and situation it is all about creativity and the consideration of the people who are targeted by the website in question. Professionals in this line of work can get involved in other fields but they are mostly active in arts and graphic design. They always collect portfolios which they show to potential clients. A strong designer is always skilled in different concepts such as special relationships, user experience, and color and typography.

    Website Developer

    While there are aspects of a website developer that appear similar to what a designer does, the two work on two different levels. Remember the expert who the designer gives the design for coding? That is the developer. Web developers are the people behind the building of the website’s backbone. They understand languages specific to the web and build this backbone from the ground up. The developer’s kit is full of tools such as CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and JQuery among others. Developers will not focus on making the website look attractive. The only focus on steps that make sure the code they are creating is technically sound and clean.


    Historically, developers have been thought to be left-brained workers. Their skills and technical ability are exceptional and to work efficiently, they must think logically. Most web developers have degrees in different fields with the most common being programming and computer science. They also need portfolios to show potential clients. The best developers are keen on specifics and are detail-oriented because their profession involves a lot of coding.

    Two different Jobs, One Main Goal

    Web designers might work on different parts of making a website but at the end of the day, they have one goal, to make a functioning website that is safe to and interesting to use for the target audience. To accomplish this, the design must be on point and the development must be sound. For a site to be complete, it needs to look good and also function properly. The appearance of the website needs to reflect the brand and the interface should encourage users to obey the call to action.


    As more and more designers learn coding, the line that exists between development and designing starts to get blurred. Developers on the other hand are paying attention to the theories used in web design. This means that in the near future, the job title will most probably be web developer/designer.

    Working Together

    One of the main reasons why web developers and designers might find it difficult to work together is communication. Both of these processes involve a lot of jargon that the other expert might not understand. To bridge the gap between the two and make working together a smooth affair, you might want to consider the following

    • A reduction in the jargon used
    • When one needs to explain something to the other, showing is a better method instead of telling. Using working sketches will make work easier for everyone.
    • In a world where everything is run through ideas, it is important to be open-minded. A designer should accept design concepts suggested by the developer and the developer should accept user experience ideas from the designer.
    • Learning about each other’s profession is a great idea. This will make sure that whatever you are working on will merge perfectly with the next steps handled by the other professional.

    Can a Developer Be a Designer?

    The web developer vs. web designer, how do you differentiate them information can show you that the two are different. The truth is that they do not have to be. With the advancements in technology used in web design and development design and development are converging.


    As mentioned, designers are learning a lot about development and vice-versa. The answer is that you can be both but you will need to learn all the new skills in both processes. Some critics might be saying that web design is dying but it is not. The only thing that is happening is that it is evolving.


    While at the end of the day web design and development achieve the same results which are to make the website functional and attractive, they are different processes that follow different steps. Design involves making the visual element of the website such as layouts, topography and fonts. The developers will take the design and give it life by making the components created by the designer functional. At least now you understand web developer vs. web designer, how do you differentiate them and how these two work together to make a functioning websites that you visit.

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