Web Designer vs Web Developer: What’s the Difference?
Are you looking for a career path as a web creator? Is it the technical aspect that draws you, or is it the creative one that piques your interest? If you are unsure, read this article, and discover the difference between a web designer and a web developer and which of these is best suited for you.
If you’re investigating a career as a web designer or developer, you may be struggling to understand exactly what the differences between the two are. These terms are often used interchangeably, which can confuse newcomers who aren’t familiar with the professions.
Despite the similar names, there are some major differences between these roles. From the tasks they focus on daily to the overall value they add to a project, web designers and web developers play very distinct roles. Exploring both positions in detail can help you gain a better understanding of which job might appeal to you.
In this guide, we’ll break down the role of a web designer vs. a web developer, including the various titles and essential skill sets involved. We’ll also discuss how you might go about choosing between the two paths. Let’s get started!
The Role of a Web Designer
Web designers have a varied set of tasks and responsibilities. However, a designer’s role revolves around creating the layout and visual aspects of a website.
Their goal is often to make sure the site is both visually pleasing and user friendly and encourages visitors to stay around for as long as possible. In addition to the general framework and layout structure, this also means considering and constructing conversion-generating elements, as well as designing web pages in a way that translates well across various devices.
Web designers need to stay updated on the latest web design trends and adhere to certain standards and best practices. They often deal with brand imagery, color palettes, fonts, and so on. Many will even create a web design style guide to ensure that each website looks consistent:
There are a handful of other key documents and resources that designers are charged with creating, administering, and overseeing. This includes:
- Web design contracts
- Website briefs
- Website design questionnaires
- Website proposals
There’s also a fair amount of research and testing involved in a web designer’s job. It’s important to make sure the website is designed in a way that meets users’ expectations and client specifications.
Additionally, a web designer will need to consider how their design affects the coding of the website. Designers create a site structure and mockup, which developers then bring to life by coding the site.
Web designers’ work typically also includes some post-launch services. They may provide content creation and updates, maintenance and monitoring services, and ongoing performance checks.
Types of Web Designers
There are different types of web designers, each focusing on a unique and specific type of work. These are:
- User Experience (UX)
- User Interface (UI)
In order to decide which web design niche is right for you, let’s delve deeper into these roles.
UX designers help ensure the website is structured in a way that engages visitors and delivers a positive experience. Their role is to create human-centric designs that are based on data-driven decisions. This involves conducting a lot of research and testing to gather and analyze data, which is used to inform their final design choices.
UI designers also play an important role in the design of a website. In addition to the experience it provides, they also prioritize interactions. More specifically, their role is to enhance the usability of a website and optimize it in a way that helps encourage conversions.
Visual designers, as the title suggests, work with the layout and visual elements of a website. This work combines certain aspects of both UX and UI design. The duties of a visual designer are based on ensuring that the interface is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
Most web designers use a handful of tools, software, and programs to perform their tasks. The most important of these are design and editing software and programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, for example.
They may also use stock photography resources, as well as image optimization and compression tools. Additionally, web designers often use a CMS such as WordPress, and a website builder platform like Elementor:
Wireframe and prototype tools are also helpful. They let web designers lay out and visualize the site’s framework, and then create mockups and models to test throughout the development process.
The Skill Sets Web Designers Need
The skill sets web designers require to be successful vary, depending on each person’s specific role and specialty. However, generally speaking, some important skills include:
- HTML and CSS knowledge
- Understanding the Principles of website design and web accessibility standards
- Responsive and interaction design
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- User journey mapping
- Wireframing and prototyping
- Branding, color theory, and typography
- Design tools and software
There are also a number of non-technical skills that are important for web designers to have. For example, strong communication skills are necessary for properly communicating with clients to set and manage expectations. Additionally, having the ability to collaborate with others on a team, such as web developers, is important for ensuring that each project goes as smoothly as possible.
A web designer can as well serve as a web developer is he/she has the required skills.
We will continue on the Web developer roles and the skills requirement on the chapter two of this article.