If you’re looking to build a career as a web creator, it’s normal to be confused about the web designer vs web developer debate. Which of the two career paths would be right for you? Here’s an easy guide on how to tell the roles apart and decide between a career as a web designer and web developer. 

A website sees the light of the day because of a concerted effort of both the web designer and the web developer. It’s easy to get mixed up as they use some common tools and share some skill sets. However, designers and developers have very distinct roles and are involved in very different areas of website development.

Let’s find out the difference between web designer and web developer

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Job Roles for Web Designer vs Web Developer  

A web designer is like an architect who develops a vision of the website, its look, feel, and function. The main tasks of the designer range from user research and information architecture to typography and UI (user interface) design. 

A web developer acts like a construction worker, turning the architect’s vision into a functional website. A developer uses programming languages like HTML, JavaScript, CSS to build the website’s framework, fix bugs, and make it functional. Developers have to cover a wide set of tasks, from programming the UI to maintaining the server-side of websites. 

Different job roles for web designers are:

1. User Experience (UX) Designer – a UX designer is responsible for figuring out what a site’s users and potential users want, whether their demands are getting fulfilled after using the site, determining user stories, building user personas, and performing user testing. The designer must make sure the website exhibits a logical flow, all interactions are intuitive, and fulfill user needs. 

2. User Interface (UI) Designer – a UI designer is responsible for developing clean and attractive UI designs based on information gathered by UX designers. Job responsibilities include creating graphics, illustrations using artwork and typography to enhance the visual display and layout. 

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3. Visual Designer – a Visual designer role can be termed a hybrid between the roles of a graphic designer and UI designer, with the focus being on making the completed product more attractive—typical responsibilities including typography, layout, imagery, spacing, color palettes, etc.      

Web developers are split into three types based on their different job roles:

1. Front-end Developer – the front end or client-side of a website is that part with which the user interacts directly. A front-end developer is responsible for coding the website’s mockup design and implementing site layout, interactivity, and visual aspects by using programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.   

2. Back-end Developer – back-end refers to the server-side of a website – the part you cannot see and interact with. A back-end developer is responsible for writing and maintaining code that powers the front-end. Job duties involve writing APIs, building libraries, working with system components, etc. 

3. Full-stack Developer – a full stack developer needs to possess sufficient knowledge in both front-end and back-end development. The developer must make sure the front end and back end of the website are in sync and work smoothly together. They work on front end, back end, database, and debugging of websites. 

Skills Required for Web Designer vs Web Developer 

Web designers need definite skill sets depending on their specific roles and specialty. But, in general, web designers need the following skills to be successful:

  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Fundamental understanding of website design principles and web accessibility standards
  • CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)
  • Understanding responsive and interactive design fundamentals
  • User Journey mapping
  • Proficiency in wireframing, prototyping
  • Ability to design tools and software
  • Understanding branding, color theory, and typography
  • Strong Communication and Collaboration skills

Technical Skills Required by Web Developers Include:

  • Proficiency in coding and programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP
  • Ability to work with JavaScript frameworks like jQuery
  • Knowledge of back ends and databases
  • Testing and debugging skills
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Understanding of Content Management Systems like WordPress

Besides these technical skills, web designers and web developers also need non-technical skillsets like strong communication and collaboration skills, problem-solving, and analytical thinking abilities to be successful in their field.  

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Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer

Both web designers and web developers play an important role in website development and maintenance. However, the key differences between the two roles are:

  • While web designers focus on the creative aspects like appearance and usability of websites, web developers are more technical in nature and concentrate on functionality and structure. 
  • Web designers convert ideas into visually appealing designs, while web developers convert designs into fully functional websites and applications.
  • Web designers deal with the look and feel of the website on the outside, but web developers deal with the functionality of websites or how they work. 
  • Popular web designing tools are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, DreamWeaver. Popular languages used for web development are HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, jQuery. 

When to Know Web Designer vs Web Developer - Which One to Go For?

A web designer can be a web developer as much as a web developer can choose to be a designer. Both career choices will require the aspirant to possess adequate knowledge and functional aptitude regarding the other domain. However, it’s important to know when to choose a web designer or a web developer, depending on the kind of project at hand.

We need a web designer for projects like:

  • Designing a new homepage
  • Conceptualizing new website branding
  • Editing photos, videos

A web developer is a right choice for projects like:

  • Creating a new contact form
  • Fixing server or hosting issues
  • Creating any mobile app

Tips for Choosing the Right Career Path for You

With more and more businesses moving online every day, it’s never been better to pursue a career in website building. Firstly though, you need to decide whether you want to work as a web designer or a web developer. 

A good starting point can be asking yourself which aspects of website building you are most interested in. If you prefer the visual design, website designing can be the ideal career path for you. However, if coding is what intrigues you the most, a role as a web developer can be your perfect match. Consider the skills and attributes required in both job positions and compare those to your current skills sets or the skills you’re keen on learning. There are numerous resources to expand your skillset and advance your career. 

Plus, we recommend considering critical aspects like career progression opportunities, market demand, and potential for growth for each of the job roles web designer vs web developer before taking the plunge. 

How can you overlook the financial part? The average web designer and web developer salaries vary according to a few factors like skills, expertise level, location, and area of specialty. The more experience and relevant skills you acquire, the higher salary you can charge from employers.     

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The most important question – who earns more: web designers or web developers?

Generally speaking, web developers earn more than web designers, but the salaries depend on the types of job roles and the skill sets you to bring to the table. 

Web Designer Salaries:

Web designer salaries can vary depending on web designing job role, location, and years of experience. 

According to Glassdoor.com, 

  • The average annual web designer salary in the US is about $53k.
  • The average base pay of a web designer in India is ₹3,23,643 per annum.
  • The average annual web designer salary in the UK is about £33,802. 

Web Developer Salaries:

Web developer salaries tend to be higher than web designer salaries primarily because of the coding skills of developers, which is highly valued in today’s increasingly digital world. 

According to Glassdoor.com, 

  • The average annual web developer salary in the US is about $77k, with senior developers earning up to $131k
  • The average salary of a web developer in India is ₹ ₹4,00,000/year
  • The average annual web developer salary in the UK is about £40,319

Final Thoughts

When considering whether you want to become a web designer vs web developer, keep in mind that both roles are ultimately working to achieve the same goal: To create great websites. While for a web developer, the fundamental knowledge of programming and some basic coding skills are necessary to make an entry into this field; web designers too can gain immensely from upskilling in these areas. No matter which direction you end up choosing, industry-recognized courses like Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development can help you shape your career in the field of web design and development. 

About the Author

Kartik MenonKartik Menon

Kartik is an experienced content strategist and an accomplished technology marketing specialist passionate about designing engaging user experiences with integrated marketing and communication solutions.

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