For those unfamiliar with the fields, the job titles “web designer” and “web developer” may sound like they’d be rather redundant. Though both positions involve bringing a website to life, the responsibilities, training and skill sets associated with each position are wildly different.
What Is a Web Designer?
A web designer focuses on the appearance of a website or web application.
Web designers are familiar with color theory, graphic design, and information flow. Certain aspects of web design, like information flow, touch upon user experience (UX). Moreover, tools like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and other wire-framing software are in the web designer’s toolkit.
Nonetheless, as a web designer, it is important to be digitally savvy — even if you can’t “code”.
What Is a Web Developer?
Compared to web designers, web developers must know how to code and are focused on the function of a website or application. In general, web developers are concerned with functionality instead of the appearance of a website or application.
Within the field, there are two different kind of developers: front end and backend.
Backend developers typically work with a particular programming language and framework — like Ruby on Rails or Python and Django. They also have an understanding of databases, such as MySQL.
There is also a third type of web developer called a “full stack developer.” A full stack developer is an individual who is familiar with both the front end and backend. Or as it is commonly called, “client side” and “server side”.
How Are the Two Roles Alike?
Web design and web development can both require some level of programming knowledge. Of course, developers rely on programming much more. And some designers will not be required to write a line of code.
Furthermore, web designers and web developers are similar because both focus on customer interaction or the end user.
The designer looks at how the end user will view the process of navigating the site or web application. On the other hand, a developer will focus more so on how the customer will be able to get things done.
In the end, both make the internet a better place.
How Do Web Designers and Web Developers Differ?
Compensation. On the whole, web designers tend to earn less than web developers.
According to PayScale, the median web designer salary in the US is $40,001 (as of late 2018). Also found on PayScale, the median web developer salary in the US is $58,262 (as of late 2018).
When it comes to finding work as a web designer, it’s their portfolio of work which matters most. Hiring managers may want to look at your Dribbble or Behance profile.
For web developers, hiring managers want to see your code. Typically this is done by looking at your Github profile.
Personality-wise, web designers tend to me more creative and artistic, while web developers are more analytical.
With the ever-changing landscape of the internet, these roles oftentimes can often become blurred in the workplace. As time goes on, many designers understand core web development concepts and vice-versa. However, most companies and organizations will have dedicated team members on both sides.