Web Designer vs. Web Developer: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Rachel Pillow on January 24, 2018

You know one thing: Your website could use a little TLC (and no we don’t mean the waterfalls kind). But, the next step is deciding who to now hire. Do you search for a web developer, a web designer or a two-for-one ... if those exist? Web designers and web developers each have unique skillsets and both are equally important in the creation, management and functionality of your website. Here we break down what each of them bring to the table and how they work together to ensure that your website looks great, represents your brand, and is optimized for converting visitors into customers.

Web Designer:

A web designer knows what graphic design elements will make your site stand out from the crowd and how to visually tell your brand’s story. A potential customer’s entire first impression of your business can be altered by one website visit. We have heard countless clients tell us, “My website makes my company look too small, like we can’t compete.” Did you know that 75% of consumers admit that they judge a company’s credibility based on their website design?

Web designers focus on the overall look-and-feel of the website and how it comes across to the end-user. A web designer is typically responsible for creating the wire-frame or a visual “blueprint” of the site’s layout and architectural framework. Designers work with programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud, creating designs in Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator.

In short, a web designer makes your site look beautiful and professional. They handle the artistic and creative elements of a website.

Web Developer:

Web developers are responsible for the functionality of a website and the tangible experience of the end-user. Developers collaborate closely with designers to bring the design of the site to life and to understand the process of how a site visitor will navigate the website. Web developers are well-versed in computer programming languages and coding in HTML, CSS and JavaScript

Web developers also ensure that the design of the site is responsive and works across all platforms and mobile devices. It really is important for web developers and web designers to work together in order to achieve the client’s goals for their site.

In short, a web developer makes your site run smoothly with a seamless user experience. They handle the technical and analytical aspects of the site, as well as the ongoing hosting and management of the site.


It is rare that you will find someone who excels in web development and web design, since college and technical degrees are geared to one or the other. Most marketing and graphic design firms will have a team of both and those teams work together on the creation and development of a website, as well as its ongoing management and maintenance.

Web developers and web designers should not create websites autonomously, as each component builds on the other resulting in a beautiful, functional site. And while you may find individuals that market themselves as “two-for-one” you will be hard-pressed to find somebody who is equally adept in both. While a designer can visually tell your brand’s story, a developer will make sure that the story is then heard (and found) — through a traffic and conversion strategy that includes search engine optimization and form creation. If the goal of your website is to look professional, tell your brand’s story, increase web traffic, convert site visitors and delight customers, then it is important to work with a team of both web developers and designers.

If you are in need of a new website or considering a redesign of your current site, download a list of these 10 elements that all successful websites should have.

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