When discussing website construction, the terms web designer and web developer are very often used interchangeably. To the laity, both of these titles simply describe a person whose career is building websites for businesses, and to an extent they are right. However, web designers and web developers work in two separate, but often closely related, spheres of website production.
While the roles of web developers and web designers are different, both work hand in hand in order to create a visually stunning and structurally sound website. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences and similarities between these two types of professionals to help you decide which one you need for your business.
What Is a Web Designer?
A web designer’s job is all about capturing the essence of a client’s vision and transforming it into a model of a potential website that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. Similar to the way an engineer is responsible for designing the blueprints and models for a bridge before construction begins, a web designer’s task is to create the look and feel of a website before the web developer can bring it to life.
A good web designer will be equal parts artist and craftsman, possessing both a solid understanding of design theory, as well as the technological limitations faced by the development team in charge of building the website.
A web designer’s job description includes skills such as:
- Knowledge and proficiency in both logo and graphic design
- An understanding of design theory, including flow, color, spacing, balance and proportion.
- An intuitive feel for creating the best user experience for a website’s visitors
- In-depth knowledge of software tools such as Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Canva
- Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the latest trends in the design world
What Is a Web Developer?
A web developer’s job is to take the models and sketches for a website created by the web designer and turn them into fully functional webpages. If the web designer’s role can be likened to that of an engineer or architect, consider the web developer as a sort of construction worker responsible for building the website from the ground up.
Web development can be broken down into two main categories: front-end development and back-end development.
The Front-End Web Developer
The front end of a website is what visitors will see and interact with on their browser. Also known as the “client side,” the front end consists of all of the text, images, colors, buttons, internal links and menus that the user experiences directly.
In short, the front-end developer is responsible for making sure that the visitor experiences an error-free website that looks exactly how the web designer envisioned it.
There are three primary coding languages used by front-end developers. These languages are:
- Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
The Back-End Web Developer
A website’s back end refers to the portion of a website that a visitor will never directly experience, and is made up of three parts: an application, a server and a database. The back end serves as the link between the server and the website’s visitors.
The majority of the code for the web application can be found on the back end. It’s important to keep in mind that poor coding on the back end will translate to a sluggish, glitchy performance on the front end.
Back-end coding languages differ from front-end coding languages, and include:
- Ruby on Rails
A backend developer is responsible for making sure that all of the right data gets sent from the server to the browser. If the front end is the 10 percent of the iceberg that floats above the water’s surface, the back end is the other 90 percent that remains submerged.
Which of These Professionals Should Your Business Use?
Web designers and web developers are both crucial players in creating an awesome website for your business, so it only makes sense to recruit the help of both.
There’s a reason why the saying “two heads are better than one” has been around for so long: because it’s the truth! When a proficient designer and developer collaborate, they can make magic happen. These two groups of professionals each bring a unique set of skills to the table, both of which are vital to the success of a website project.
The Importance of Working Together
Having the design and development teams work side by side ensures that everyone is able to plan and execute the project efficiently and effectively. Allowing the design team to run their sketches and mockups for the website past the development team on an ongoing basis guarantees that the initial design approved by the client is both practical and achievable.
After all, as a client, you never want to hear that the design team bit off more than they could chew halfway through a project.
Not only is working together from day one a surefire way to avoid many costly and time-consuming setbacks, it allows two different types of creative minds to work in synergy, creating a website that not only meets but exceeds the client’s expectations.
Additional benefits of hiring a close-knit team of web designers and developers include:
- Having multiple sets of eyes on every stage of website construction, identifying and correcting flaws and mistakes as they arise
- The opportunity for creative brainstorming between both right-brain thinkers (designers) and left-brain thinkers (developers)
- Mutual accountability between the two teams
- A finished product where the aesthetic elements complement the interactive elements, and vice versa
Despite the Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer, Should I Hire a Hybrid Specialist?
If you are looking to build a website for your business but have only a limited budget for the project, it might be tempting to hire a single person playing the role of a hybrid designer-developer. This approach may work for some businesses owners, especially those looking for a fairly basic website and are not overly concerned with visitor engagement and conversion. However, like most things in life, you are likely to get what you pay for.
A so-called “jack of all trades” is unlikely to possess a deep understanding of both web design and web development, which means that projects tend to take longer to complete, and the final product is unlikely to live up to your, and even their, expectations.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between the web designer and the web developer, and just how important each role is in creating the perfect website for your business.
If you still have questions about the various considerations that go into building a website, come check out our website design and development page and learn more about how the expert team of designers and developers at Eminent SEO can help you grow your business and your web presence.