If ever you’ve looked into having a professional create and design your website, you’ve likely noticed that most of these professionals offer both web design and web development services. While these two terms are mistakenly used interchangeably by many individuals, web design and web development mean two different things, which you should be fully aware of before you seek services to design your website.

While there are some differences between web design and web development, they work closely together and are both important when creating a complete digital presence for your business or brand. Web design focuses specifically on the visuals of the website as well as its overall usability, both of which are meant to provide visitors with a great user experience. As for web development, this process involves taking a completed website design and make sure that it’s functioning properly, which typically requires some knowledge of programming languages such as Python and Ruby.

When searching for the right professional for the job, keep in mind that there are sometimes individuals who have web design and web development skills. However, this is rare. Even if you find someone with both skills, their web design skills could be worse than their web development skills, which is why it’s recommended that you hire a different professional for both jobs. The web designer you hire will be responsible for the visual and aesthetic components of your website, while the web developer of your choice will be the person who makes the website function via the right coding. There’s more to the two roles than this, which will be discussed further in the following.

What Does Being a Web Designer Mean?

Web design layout with pencils

Web designers are essentially responsible for the visual design of a website. These individuals will need to know various design principles and aesthetics to determine what the best fit would be when creating any type of website. They must also understand how to gauge what kind of visual branding the client requires that will reflect the company. In order for a web designer to be successful, it’s essential that they keep up-to-date with the latest design trends in the industry, which should help them create designs that are forward-thinking while also being ahead of the competition.

Keep in mind that web designers aren’t just graphic artists. In order for someone to excel at being a web designer, they will need to know more about professional designs and should have some additional experience within the industry. These individuals will be responsible for the style positioning of your website while also making sure that users have a certain visual perception of the site that fits with your brand. A web designer will be tasked with creating prototype designs that adhere to your specifications. Some of the other tasks of a web designer include:

  • Working with advertisement designs when necessary
  • Assisting web developers with page design and similar work in the construction of a website
  • Working on the graphic design of the site’s product catalog

While web designers don’t perform a substantial amount of coding, they should understand the code of the site better than graphic designers while also understanding the design of the site better than programmers. The programming skills that a web designer should have include CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, which will be enough to be able to know what the web developers do with the site. The types of tools that web designers will be tasked with using include:

  • Adobe Photoshop – A graphics editor that allows you to create and enhance images, photos, and designs
  • Illustrator – A powerful editor that’s designed specifically for vector graphics
  • Sketch – A vector graphics editor that’s used with macOS
  • Figma – A cloud-based solution for digital products that helps with design and prototyping
  • InVision – A powerful design platform that assists with collaboration, prototyping, and workflow

In order for web designers to get consistent work, it’s essential that they have an expansive portfolio. A design portfolio is a collection of any project that the designer has worked on in the past. Even the most simplistic of design projects should be included in a portfolio. Once this portfolio has been created, it can be provided to prospective clients when they inquire about the services that the web designer offers.

What Does Being a Web Developer Mean?

web developer working on laptop

A web developer is considered to be a front-end developer who works on the functions of the website. The main responsibility that these individuals have is to collaborate with UI designers, visual designers, and interaction designers to craft web pages in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. These pages will be based entirely on the visual design that the web designer has put together. To make sure that the designs can be fully implemented into the site, the web developer will need to work with the designer. They must also communicate with the back-end developer to be certain that none of the work they do clashes with the back-end functionality of the website.

Being a web developer means that you will be required to know how to use development technology and front-end frameworks, which mainly include frameworks like Bootstrap, jQuery, and React. These frameworks help to streamline development and make it easier to put together a website. Web developers will do different tasks based on the seniority of their position, of which there are several.

Junior Web Developer

A junior web developer is someone who’s able to use frameworks, standard developer tools, and libraries. These individuals work independently to meet the needs of the web developer expert. Whenever a problem occurs during development, the junior web developer should know how to fix it.

Senior Web Developer

A senior web developer will typically work alone while leading logistics and technical planning for any project that’s about to take place. However, senior web developers can assist the development team throughout the project and provide their expertise when requested.

Web Developer Expert

A web developer expert is someone who has already had extensive experience working as a junior web developer and a senior web developer. These individuals will typically manage a team of developers and the projects that they work on. Before a project begins, the web developer expert will provide the front-end team with the entire web development strategy that they will put to use in their next project.

Common Myths about Web Designer and Web Developers

There are many common myths that site owners and prospective designers/developers believe about these professions, the primary of which is that web designers don’t code. This is a complete myth. While designers don’t code as much as web developers, these individuals are typically familiar with all of the languages that are used with front-end development, which include CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

Another myth is that learning to program is more difficult than learning what it takes to design. It’s important to understand that web design and web development aren’t inherently more or less challenging than the other. The specific strengths and weaknesses that the individual has will determine which option is right for them. While programming comes naturally to some people, design is easier for others. Yet another common myth is that it’s impossible to be both a web developer and designer. In actuality, it’s possible to have both of these skills and work in both professions.

What is a Hybrid Designer and Developer?

web design on laptop monitor

A small number of individuals work as a hybrid designer and developer, which is a very difficult profession. These individuals will know front-end engineering as well as the design principles that are needed when designing a website. Designers with a certain amount of development experience may be able to use the engineering skills they have while crafting user journeys and interfaces. This particular job position is ideal for startups that have a limited budget for creating a digital product. Since a single individual will handle both aspects of creating a website, hiring a hybrid developer/designer might be cheaper for startups.

People who work as developers and designers are able to connect the dots between technicality and creativity. However, there are some negative aspects of hiring a hybrid designer. For one, it may be too much to handle for just one person. There could be too much work to complete, which may result in certain aspects of the website development being neglected. You don’t want the hybrid designer/developer you’ve hired to forego testing or user experience mapping. There will also be a lack of feedback that usually characterizes the kind of back and forth collaboration that developers and designers have.

Would a Web Designer or a Web Developer Be Better for My Needs?

up close view of computer monitor

If you’re in the process of having a website designed for your business or brand, you may be asking yourself if you should hire a web designer or developer. If your company is smaller in size with a limited budget, hybrids might be the better solution. However, larger or growing companies might require a different solution. To get both of these positions in one, your best bet may be to hire a website company to provide you with every facet of site creation, which includes everything from the initial design to the front-end and back-end programming for the site.

Website companies can accommodate all of your site creation needs and will divvy up projects between their web developers and web designers. In many cases, a website company will use a project manager who can manage all projects at the company while making sure that the designers and developers are on the same page. Before you hire a web design and development company, it’s highly recommended that you do your due diligence and research all of your options before making your final decision. Your research should include checking the past work that these companies have done while also reading any online reviews that you can find. With this research in hand, you should be able to make an informed decision that you’ll be completely satisfied with.

Bryan Miller of Bryt Designs Long Beach Web Design, Development, & SEO
Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web tech enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. Bryan is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine and continues to pursue tools and technologies to find success for clients across a varieties of industries.