Web Developer vs. Web Designer: How Does Their Role Differ?
Hiring & recruiting developers / Tech Candidates Assessment

Web Developer vs. Web Designer: How Does Their Role Differ?

Ihor Shcherbinin
VP of Recruiting at DistantJob - - - 3 min. to read

The main difference between a web designer and a web developer is the technical know-how. Web designers are responsible for the look, feel, and aesthetic of a website, while web developers are responsible for the coding and programming behind the scenes.

It’s easy to get their roles mixed up, especially these days when many web designers possess a working knowledge of HTML and CSS, while front-end web developers often have the ability to produce a design mockup.

To understand the concepts of web design and web development, it’s important to outline the roles they play in the creation of functioning websites and apps. This will help you decide whether you need to hire a web designer or a web developer, or if you are a job seeker, which path is best for you.

Before we go into further detail, If you need quick assistance in determining which web service is the right fit for you, feel free to reach out to us and one of our experienced software recruiters will be able to answer any queries you have.

As we’ve established, web developers and designers share essential roles in creating websites, but their responsibilities and skills differ significantly. Here are the top 5 differences you should be aware of:

Web Developer vs. Web Designer: Comparison Table

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

What´s The Role of a Web Designer?

details about 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 develop website designs that are in line with the branding strategy. Through this, they can create logos, color schemes, and typography that will help to create a cohesive and recognizable brand.

A website that is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and provides helpful information will not only make a good first impression but also encourage visitors to stay and explore further. This can result in leads, conversions, and other beneficial outcomes. Additionally, a website that is attractive and engaging can help to build trust with your users and create a strong relationship between your business and your customers.

Main Responsibilities Of A Web Designer

Being related to the 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
  • Identify opportunities to improve the user experience

Types Of Web Designers

Web designers have three main aspects to their work:

  1. UI Designer
  2. UX designer
  3. Visual Designer
User Interface (UI) DesignerUser ExperienceVisual 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.

Skills Required for Web Designers

  • 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 Design 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 Cost?

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.

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).

💡  Interested in learning about the difference between a web and a software developer?

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:

  1. Front-end developers
  2. Back-end developers
  3. 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.
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.

Do You Need A Web Designer and a Front-End Developer? What’s the Difference

The difference between a web designer and a front-end developer lies in their focus and skill sets. While web designers focus on how a website looks and feels, front-end developers focus on how those designs are brought to life and function on the website.

A web designer concentrates on a website’s visual aesthetics and user experience (UX). Their main responsibility is to create the visual layout, style, and overall feel of a website, ensuring it is visually appealing and user-friendly. They provide design mockups and prototypes that define how the website will look.

On the other hand, a front-end developer focuses on implementing the web designer’s vision using code. They are proficient in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and front-end frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js. Their responsibilities include translating design mockups into functional code, ensuring the website is interactive, responsive, and performs well across different devices and browsers. Essentially, front-end developers build the actual website based on the designs provided, making sure the user interface works smoothly.

Skills Required for Web Developers

  • 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 Development 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): Choosing 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.

What’s Their Salary Distinction?

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: Summary

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

Hopefully, by 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 present 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.
Find a global developer

If you’re looking for professionals to create webpages for your company, DistantJob is here to help you find the right people who will build the pages and web experiences that you’ve envisioned. Hire a developer with us today! Book a call today!

FAQ on the difference between a web designer and a web developer

Are Web Designers Still In Demand?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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.

Should you hire a web designer or developer?

Whether or not you should hire a web designer or developer depends on what type of project you are looking to complete. If you are looking to create a website from scratch, then you will likely need to hire both a designer and a developer. However, if you are simply looking to update the look of an existing website, then you may only need to hire a web designer.

What is the main difference between a web developer and a web designer?

In short, web developers are responsible for writing code, while web designers create the design.

Ihor Shcherbinin

Ihor, is the VP of Recruiting at DistantJob. He specializes in sourcing and placing top remote developers for North American companies. His expertise covers the entire recruiting cycle, from pinpointing job needs to finalizing hires. Known for his skill in remote staffing solutions and offshore team integration, Ihor excels in matching the best tech talents with U.S. organizations. His approach to virtual developer hiring is marked by insightful candidate selection and strategic offer negotiation, ensuring the right fit for every role.

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