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Web Developer vs Web Designer The Differences

Web Developer vs Web Designer
The Differences

If you’ve ever thought of hiring someone to do a web project for you, you’ve probably scoured around the Internet and came across the terms ‘web developer’ and ‘web designer’. While you (and many others) may think that both these titles refer to the same profession, they’re not. The responsibilities and skill set for a web developer and a web designer are different. You may be forgiven for thinking they’re the same though, as lots of people who are new to the industry itself seem to think they’re the same. So, to understand which you should work with for your next cool web project, let’s take a look at what are the differences between a web developer and a web designer.

A web designer, as the name hints, work with designs. They are responsible for creating the overall look and feel of a website. They oversee the visual aspects of a webpage such as the layout, colour scheme, typography, and graphics. Web designers work closely with clients to determine their design preferences and to create a webpage that reflects their brand identity. A web designer is skilled in design; they know how to use design elements to create a visually pleasing layout that’s also functional.

On the other hand, web developers are responsible for the actual building and the technical aspects of a website. We developers use coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build the website’s structure, functionality, and interactivity. They also use back-end technologies like PHP, Python, MySQL, and many others to build the website’s database and advanced functionalities. They are the ones who will produce the final product that will be published and used. Web developers work with web designers to ensure the website is built correctly, and they also work with clients to ensure that all the user requirements are met.

We can further illustrate the difference between web designers and web developers using the construction of a house as an analogy. The web designer is like the architect who creates the blueprint, determines the layout, colour scheme, and overall aesthetic of the house. The web developer, on the other hand, is the engineer who uses various tools and materials to construct the entire house based on the blueprint.

One of the reasons why many people think that web designers and web developers are the same is because lots of web designers offer web development services as well, and vice versa. Web designers and web developers often work with each other to offer clients the full range of services, starting from the design of the website up until the website is fully published on the Internet.

A successful web designer will need to have a strong understanding of design principles, typography, colour theory, and layouts. A web designer should also be proficient in design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. However, it is also important that web designers have a sufficient understanding of the technical aspects of a website to ensure that the design is actually functional. Walter Isaacson in his book "Steve Jobs", quoted the founder of Apple Inc. as saying, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

A successful web developer will also need to have an understanding of some design principles besides being proficient in technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, web frameworks, development libraries, and others. This is to ensure that their code produces the intended output and makes the website user-friendly. In the book “Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship” by Robert C. Martin, the Senior Director of Engineering at Pandora is quoted as saying, “A great developer is someone who not only knows how to code, but also understands the context in which the code is being written.”

In conclusion, while web designers and web developers are both involved in building a website, they have different responsibilities and skill sets. Web designers focus on the visual aspects of a website, while web developers focus on the technical and usability aspects. However both are needed together to ensure that a successful and functional website can be developed. If you’re interested to learn more about web design and web development, contact me at

Naim Zulkipli
22 March 2023

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