Evaluating Remote Tech Candidates / How To Find and Hire Remote Developers / Remote Recruitment

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

In simple terms, the difference between a web developer and a web designer is similar to the difference between architects and house designers. An architect builds the house in a way that people can comfortably live in, and of course, it’s strong enough that it won’t collapse and kill anyone. While the house designer oversees the artsy side, designing how the house will be more attractive and comfortable. 

In much the same way, web designers and web developers work together to build websites. Let’s explore the primary roles and the main differences between web developers vs. web designers.

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 a 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.

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

  • Front-end developers: 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.
  • Back-end developer: 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).
  • Full-stack developer: They take care of both parts of a website, front and back.

The main responsibilities of a web developer involve:

  • Write efficient code
  • Create a website using basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Maintain software documentation
  • Work closely with project managers, designers

The most common Skills a Web Developer should have are:

  • HTML/CSS (Front-end)
  • Responsive design (Front-end)
  • JavaScript (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.

Given this, how long does it take to become a web developer? This will, of course, depend on the person’s background and the time they have to invest. A programmer will learn web development more easily since they already know some (if not most) of the basics.

Most online web development learning courses take around 3 months to complete, and you’ll come out with a strong foundation. But you’ll want to keep learning as you go after that if you want to improve beyond the basics and become a flexible developer.

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.

The Role of a Web Designer

Web designers mainly focus on everything involved with the visual aesthetics and usability of a website. Having an attractive website is incredibly important because it makes users catch the bait. 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.

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 Photoshop and Illustrator and can design logos, create a branding strategy, layout forms, place CTA buttons, and more things.

The main responsibilities of a web designer involve:

  • Conceptualize creative ideas
  • Test and design the website
  • Creates functionalities and features of the website
  • Establish design, guidelines, standards, and best practices

The most common Skills a Web Designer should have are:

  • Marketing and communication design
  • User Experience (UX) design and interactive design
  • 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 Developer make a year?

According to recent reports, the average salary of a web developer ranges between $52,315 to $60,015.

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.

Comparison Between Web Developer and Web Designer

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

As for salary, who earns more: web developer or web designer? When talking about web designer vs. web developer salary, web developers earn more ($75,124 on average) than web designers ($56,165 on average).

Conclusion

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.

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