So, you have a really cool idea for a website, but you cant do it on your own. Maybe you decided to get some professional help, but you keep seeing titles like “web designer” or “web developer” and you aren’t sure which one is better for your needs. I have talked to the pros at Design My Webs, and they provided some information that may help you decide what is best for your website (or a potential career path for you).

A web designer’s main role is to design a website that is appealing to customers and that looks professional. A web developer is more focused on the functionality of a website, making sure that it is easy to navigate and that all the different features are working properly.

You probably noticed that the terms “designer” and “developer” are used somewhat interchangeably. This can sometimes make the differences unclear and hard to decipher. In this article, I have put together some information that will help you to understand the differences between these positions.

Web Designer

As was mentioned previously, the web designer’s main role is to design websites that look professional and pleasing to the eye. If you have ever been to a website and there is a cool-looking graphic that pops up when you enter, that was most likely the work of a web designer. Here are some of the other roles of a web designer:

  • Planning and carrying out a website design.
  • Using design software to create designs and converting them into HTML and CSS.
  • Working with a whole team of designers to come up with a professional website.
  • Being aware of SEO policies and implementing them into your web design.
  • Analyzing website data and using that information to create websites that will appeal to the customer.
  • Being aware of copyright information and being especially careful not to plagiarize.

As you can see, the job of a web designer includes a lot of different aspects and skillsets. Hiring a web designer can be really helpful, not only for the designs they make but also for the valuable skills they offer when it comes to analyzing data. A skilled web designer has the ability to see where people are clicking most often. This information can be very helpful because it can help you understand where you need to place your most important information.

A skilled web designer also knows to avoid bad web design issues that can cause you problems.  Give yourself a quick education and ensure you hire someone fit for the job by reading this post I’ve written of 20 common examples of bad web design.

There are also many different ways that you can hire a web designer. As was mentioned above, many web designers work in a team, but some of them work independently. You can either go through a large established business or go with an independent web designer. Working through a business that has a team can be a huge blessing because it puts more ideas and unique abilities into your website, but sometimes it can be difficult for you to communicate exactly what you want with a whole team of people, and your website may end up looking inconsistent. Working with someone independent, however, can make it much easier for you to communicate. On the other hand, they are just one person, and their capabilities may be limited.

Some web designers have skills in graphic design, allowing them to actually do some of the designing themselves. However, those that don’t have those capabilities need to work closely with a professional graphic designer to make creative designs and assets.

One other benefit of hiring a web designer is that they are going to be aware of the policies that you are working under. It would be very unfortunate for a person to work on a website just to realize they accidentally used pictures or videos that they did not have permission to use. Web designers are very good at knowing exactly what is allowed.

They are also aware of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics and formatting. This is important because you will want to have people find your website through search engines. Formatting your website so that it is likely to be found from a google search can be a make-or-break decision.

You can think of the difference between “design” and “developing” in the same sense as clothing manufacturing. In the clothing world, people play different roles in the making of clothing, just like in website creation. In clothing, you have the fashion designer and the manufacturer. The fashion designer is much like the web designer in that their main role is to come up with the idea for clothing that people will want to buy. The manufacturer’s main role is to take that design and turn it into clothing that people will actually be able to wear, much as the web developer does for the websites that designers make.

This is not a perfect analogy, but hopefully, it helps you understand how although the designer and developer do similar things, they play different roles in creating successful websites.

Web Developer

The web developer’s job is very much related to that of a web designer. The job of a web developer is the person that does the “dirty work” for a website. Have you ever been on a website and something you click on doesn’t take you where you want it to? Well, it is the job of a web developer to fix things like this. While the designer focuses on how the website looks, the developer is more concerned with how easy (or even possible) it is to navigate the website. Here are some of the responsibilities of a web developer:

  • Build and ensure that websites are secure and protect the information of those who visit your website.
  • Provide continual support to multiple different websites.
  • Work with designers and customers to ensure they are consistent with the desired direction of the website.
  • Regularly audit sites providing maintenance when needed.
  • Provide websites with proper coding and script application.

Unlike the web designer, the web developer is in it for the long haul. Generally, once the website is designed, there is not much that needs to be done on the visual end of things. Because websites have frequent problems, an important part of a developer’s job is to constantly analyze errors and fix problems as they come.

Oftentimes, when people hire web developers it is not just to provide them with an initial functional website, but it also includes the task of constantly managing the website. So, when someone visits their favorite recipe website and they can’t reach the pie tab because it keeps popping up an error, that is the developer’s job to analyze the code and script to determine what the problem is so it can be resolved.

Web developers usually go through regular audits of the website to make sure that things are running smoothly. This generally includes logging into the website as if you were a customer or site visitor and seeing what they see. This allows the web developer to know what needs to be changed or updated so that visitors can navigate more easily. This can be a huge blessing for your website.

It may not seem that important, but when someone is online price comparing and they can’t even get around your website, then it is likely that they will give up. A study showed that the average person spends less than 15 seconds on a website before they move on. That means that you have about 15 seconds to get your visitors to the most important information before they try a different website. This is why the job of a developer is so important for the success of your website.

Security is so important in the world we live in. Websites everywhere are using our information. You obviously don’t want to make your online visitors feel like their information is unsafe in your hands—that could result in a loss of business and even a bad reputation. Hiring a web developer can help you to be able to confidently assure your customer that not only is your website safe, but that the information is going to be safe from any outside forces. Web developers have the skills necessary to create websites that are secure not only for your customers but will also protect you as the business owner.

Just like the web designer, a web developer works closely with web designers to make sure that they understand exactly how the website should function. Doing this is very helpful for both roles. They can work together and avoid doing anything that is going to contradict what the other person has done. Web developers also often work on a team, but there are “freelance” developers that do a great job.

Web developers are well educated on coding and script application—this is one of the biggest differences between a web designer and a web developer. Although designers have a good idea of how things run, it is the web developers that know exactly how things work on the inside. They write the code that allows you to move from page to page.

If you have ever tried making a website using a free website, please understand that the reason you are able to do that is because of web developers who made the code for you to be able to easily make things like that. It did not just happen that way. Unfortunately, it probably took somebody many hours of coding and applying script just for you to be able to sign into the website, let alone do things like clicking on links or re-size the viewing window.

I have talked a little bit about the difference between developing and designing, but some similarities are important to point out. Because of the similar roles and background education, there are many people out there who are skilled in both web development and web design. This allows them to be able to fulfill both duties and can even save you (the customer) some time in shopping around. It is likely that as you read about the differences you realized that you actually need both a developer and designer to make your website work.

Many companies that advertise website creation have both developers and designers on their teams. If you decide that it would be better for you to work with someone who freelances, then it would be wise to look for someone who does both.

Salary & Demand

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, from the year 2019 all the way to 2029, they expect that jobs in web development and design will increase by 8%. As more and more businesses move online, the importance and use of web designers and developers is increasing. This will likely continue to go up as the world becomes more technological. Finding a job in either of these careers should not be too difficult moving forward. Even though many companies hire web designers and developers, there are plenty of opportunities to do freelance work and make some good money as well.

In 2021 it was reported that the average salary for someone working as a web developer was about $69,206 a year. In the same year, it was also reported that web designers made $66,494 a year. Both of these yearly salaries are well above the United States average, which is about $56,310 (source). Many designers and developers get paid on a salary basis, but some places hire them on an hourly basis. Many businesses that provide website services charge a base fee for different size websites. Although there are lots of jobs, you want to be careful, because if you charge per website then you are counting on the fact that you will get consistent customers. If times get tough in the economy, then your personal business may take a hit.

When it comes to the question, which one is better? The truth is that each plays an important role in creating a successful website. You should look into finding both to allow you to create the website that you want. I wish you the best of luck in your future website creations!