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Web Developer vs. Web Designer: Which One do you Need to Hire?

Gabriela Molina
- 3 min. to read

Web developers are often mixed-up with web designers. The main reason is that website designers and developers have similarities, and they tend to complement each other when building great websites. 

However, there are differences. If you are looking to build a website for your company, you should know the differences between a web developer vs. a web designer. We created a small guide with Ihor Shcherbinin, our Recruitment Director, to help you clarify and define what type of employee will make the perfect fit for your team.

Web Developer vs. Web Designer: Which One do you Need to Hire?

Should I hire a Web Developer or a Web Designer for My Business?

If you are looking to build a website for your company, you should know the differences between a web developer vs. a web designer

Web designers and web developers work together to build websites: Web developers by defining the way a page functions when users interact with it, and web designers by defining the visuals of the page. Web developers are often mixed-up with web designers because they share some similarities, and they complement each other when building great websites.

Let’s explore the primary roles and the main differences between web developers vs. web designers. We created a small guide with Ihor Shcherbinin, our Recruitment Director, to help you clarify and define what type of employee will make the perfect fit for your team.

What´s The Role of a Web Designer?

Web designers mainly focus on everything involved with the visual aesthetics and usability of a website. 

Web designers are great connoisseurs of color schemes. They can build great website layouts and understand how everything should be set up for users to have a great experience. They relate mostly to the aspects of UI/UX. 

Web designers are also highly experienced in using digital creative software such as Photoshop and Illustrator to design logos, create a branding strategy, layout forms, and place CTA buttons.

Why Employ Web Designers?

Having an attractive and usable website is incredibly important because it incentivizes users to stay and use the website for longer. According to statistics, 94% of first impressions are related to your site’s web design.

If you have a great product but an ugly website where users have no clue how to use it, they will likely look for another option. A web designer’s role becomes fundamental for those companies looking to increase their digital awareness.

Main Responsibilities Of A Web Designer

Being related to User Interface (UI) and User eXperience (UX) of websites, Web Designers are mainly involved with:

  • Conceptualizing creative ideas
  • Establishing design, guidelines, standards, and best practices
  • Defining the functionalities and features of the website
  • Designing and testing the website

Types Of Web Designers

Web designers have three main aspects to their work:

User Interface (UI) DesignerUser eXperience (UX) DesignerVisual Designer
These designers focus on the way each page is built.
They deal with a page’s structure, deciding what kinds of elements the pages have and what they do when interacted with.
These designers see the website in a more broad sense.
They are responsible for creating the flow of pages of the website and research how that resulting page hierarchy changes and entices users to interact with the website itself.
These designers are responsible for creating and/or maintaining the visual elements of a page: images, logos, colors, text fonts, etc.
They use these concepts to define the visual language of the website and are tasked with keeping that language consistent with the brand and also throughout the whole webpage.

In most cases web designers will encompass most, if not all, of these roles at once. Big companies or highly technical teams will want specialists in each of these aspects so each can focus on different design decisions to guarantee the success of a website project.

Key Skills Of A Web Designer

  • HTML and CSS
  • Prototyping and Wireframing
  • Marketing and communication design
  • User Experience (UX) design and interactive design
  • Responsive design (the ability for a page to dynamically change its layout based on the size of the screen)
  • Progressive enhancement (the ability for a page to dynamically load enhancements based on the capabilities of the browser while still presenting the content)
  • Page layout
  • Typography
  • Motion graphics

Web Designer Tools

  • Wireframing/Mockup Tools: Mostly used to help communicate to the rest of the team (and possibly clients) how the website will look and feel. Also helps with developing a smooth UX.
  • Graphics Editors (both Raster and Vector): To create the variety of graphics needed for the website’s look.
  • Coding/Debugging Tools: It’s especially important for designers to have tools that allow them to visually develop their mockups and see changes made in real time in order to iterate quickly.

How Much Money Does A Web Designer Make A Year?

According to recent reports, the average salary of a web designer ranges between $52,315 to $60,015. However, this value will change dramatically depending on the location of your designer. You can hire remote developers with the same quality as local ones but with far more competitive salaries.

Are Web Designers Still In Demand?

Yes! Some may think that since front-end developers exist, web designers are no longer needed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, they both work closely to ensure a great-looking and functioning page for users to experience and enjoy.

When discussing front-end developers vs. web designers, the short summary to keep in mind is that front-end developers are responsible for how the page functions, while web designers are responsible for how the page looks.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, both web developers’ and web designers’ overall employment is projected to grow by 23% between 2021 to 2031. This will translate to an average of 21,800 job openings each year.

As for current numbers, here are the openings listed on popular job boards at the time of writing:

Job BoardWeb Designer Job Openings

What´s The Role of a Web Developer?

Web developers build and maintain websites. Their primary purpose is to create functional websites that give users the best experience. They take a website design and project and make it into reality. This is why they are involved in the more technical aspects of development. They need to learn programming languages, most commonly PHP, Java, and Ruby (among others), and understand how the Internet works.

Main Responsibilities Of A Web Developer

  • Create a website using JavaScript, PHP, and other web-centric languages, with the help of some basic HTML and CSS
  • Testing and debugging a website’s code
  • Write efficient code
  • Maintain software documentation
  • Work closely with project managers and designers to realize the project’s vision and goals

Types Of Web Developers

There are three types of web developers: Front-end developers, Back-end developers, and full-stack.

Front-end developerBack-end developerFull-stack developer
They are highly skilled in UI (user interface) and UX (user experience). They oversee the visual aspect of websites; therefore, they often work side by side with web designers.
The difference is that web designers work more on the creative aspects, while front-end developers focus on the functional elements.
They ensure that the website runs efficiently by maintaining the server-side code. This way, data runs efficiently throughout the website, from the front end (what the user interacts with) to the back end (the database).They take care of both parts of a website, front and back.

Key Skills Of A Web Developer

  • HTML/CSS (Front-end)
  • Responsive design (Front-end)
  • JavaScript (Front-end and Back-end)
  • PHP (Front-end and Back-end)
  • Testing and debugging (Front-end and Back-end)
  • Code versioning (Front-end and Back-end)
  • SEO (Front-end and Back-end)

Even though Front-end and Back-End developers have different skills, they both should know the basics of the other to have better communication and interface with each other’s work.

Web Developer Tools

  • Frameworks and Libraries: Every web developer should be familiar with the most popular frameworks and libraries for either Front-End or Back-End solutions. This will allow them to be flexible and easily adapt to the reality of any given project.
  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE): It’s especially important to choose a development environment that helps with the most common and mundane tasks, streamlines the coding process, and helps with debugging.
  • Deployment/Monitoring: The work doesn’t stop when a website is published. Developers should keep maintaining it to make sure they run at peak efficiency and that other secondary functions (such as SEO) are working as intended.

How Much Money Does A Web Developer Make A Year?

According to recent reports, the average salary of a web developer ranges between $60.262 to $89.985. If you want more competitive salaries, the best option is to hire remotely. You can get developers with the same quality as the local offering but not offset your budget.

Web Developer vs. Web Designer: 5 Differences

As we’ve established, web developers and designers share many similarities, but also have key differences. Here are the top 5 you should be aware of:

Web DesignerWeb Developer
FocusWeb page appearance and usability.Web page functionality.
ResponsibilityCreate a web page that is easily navigable, communicates the information clearly, and is visually consistent.Create a web page that functions as expected based on web standards and patterns,, and provides appropriate feedback when using the page’s controls.
Technical KnowledgeWeb page layouts, visual elements.Programming languages, frameworks.
ToolsWireframe and mock-up tools, and graphics editors such as Adobe Photoshop.Frameworks and libraries, IDEs.
SalaryRanges between $52,315 to $60,015 /yearRanges between $60.262 to $89.985 /year

Which One Should You Hire?

Do I Need A Web Designer or Web Developer? The table below shows practical examples of different tasks and who you should hire for each one of them. This will help you better understand if you need to hire a website developer or a website designer. 

TaskWeb Developer vs. Web Designer
Design webpage layoutWeb designer
Build contact formsWeb developer
Update websitesWeb designer
Test webpages to identify errorsWeb developer
Create logos and other images to enhance the visuals of the pageWeb designer
Optimize websites for improved speeds when loading and navigatingWeb developer
Design responsive landing pagesWeb designer
Maintain and update websitesWeb developer


Now you know the differences between web design vs. web development! 

While web designers and developers may seem similar at first, they have very different responsibilities and use different skill sets.

Web Designers are responsible for the look of a webpage, including the Page Layout, Interaction, Animations, and User Experience.

Web Developers, on the other hand, are responsible for the functionality of a webpage.

  • Front-End Web Developers are responsible for how the page itself functions. They will work closely with Designers to make sure the various elements of a page work and can be interacted with as intended.
  • Back-End Web Developers are also indirectly responsible for how a page functions but are more focused on the service the page provides and less on how the page is presented to the user.

In a very simple example, let’s consider a shopping website:

  • The Web Designer will work on how the page looks and presents the items to the buyer.
  • The Front-End Web Developer will program certain elements of the page itself, such as a buy button or listing the items in a cart.
  • The Back-End Web Developer will program the behind-the-scenes service that checks the shop’s database for inventory and prices and validates all purchases.

If you’re looking for Web Developers or Web Designers to create webpages for your company, DistantJob can provide you with the right people that will build the pages and web experiences that you’ve envisioned. Hire a developer with us today!

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