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Web designers vs. web developers

web designer vs web developer

Web design is a broad area that includes many different specialties, but two pillars form the foundation of this digital landscape: web designers and web developers. Thinking about a career switch but can’t decide between the two? We’ve got you covered. This article unravels the contrasting yet complementary worlds of web design and web development. You’ll learn what unique skill sets, responsibilities and tools you would need to pursue a career in one or the other.

Whether you’re interested in designing a website or developing one, Wix is the best place to get started.

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

Web designers and web developers share the same goal: figure out how to make a website that’s user-friendly and meets its business objectives. Yet, they have different roles in achieving this goal. While web designers decide how web pages will be organized, structured and decorated, web developers use code to implement the design and make the website functional.

Web designers create the visual appearance and user experience of a website, whereas a web developer develops and maintains the technical aspects. A web designer's skills include design, typography, color theory and UX design, whereas a web developer knows programming, coding, web standards and database management. A web designers qualities include creativity, attention to detail, communication skills and problem-solving skills whereas a web developer has technical aptitude, analytical skills and collaboration skills. The average web designer makes $64.432 and the average web developer makes $77,444.

What does a web designer do?

Web design falls within the realm of digital design, involving the crafting of visual content and assets using digital software. At the helm of this creative process is the web designer, tasked with the creation of visually appealing and user-friendly websites. They wield a creative palette of colors, typefaces and imagery to fashion websites with exceptional aesthetics. In the pursuit of excellence, web designers draw upon human-centered design principles, aiming to construct websites that offer a superb user experience. This marriage of artistic ingenuity and user-centric design results in digital spaces that captivate and delight visitors.

Ready to put your website design skills to action? Start designing your site now.

Key responsibilities of a web designer

The responsibilities of a web designer vary depending on the organization or project they're working on, but here is a general overview:

  • Design the layout: Web designers determine the arrangement of individual elements on a web page, such as a website header, menu, content sections and website footer. The goal of this process is to create a clear visual hierarchy of elements that make it easier for visitors to find the information they are looking for.

  • Choose color and typography: When choosing a color and typeface for a website, web designers aren't only responsible for aesthetics, but they also have to ensure that the choices align with the website's branding and user experience. The web design should be visually appealing and accessible to various audiences.

  • Create, select and edit graphics and images: Web designers create or select images, icons and other visual elements that enhance the website's appearance and help to communicate important information.

  • Make the design responsive: People visit websites from various devices—from mobile phones with a relatively small screen to extra-large monitors. Therefore, web designers must make sure their creations look great on desktops, tablets and smartphones.

  • Design the user experience: Web designers aim to create websites that are aligned with the needs and wants of users. They consider how users interact with the website and carefully prioritize content both above the fold and below it to communicate essential information at a glance and provide all other information according to its priority.

  • Collaborate with the engineers: It's not enough to know how to design a website. Web designers also need to know how to communicate their design decisions to web developers clearly. Web designers work closely with web developers and other team members to implement the design into a functional website.

  • Monitor trends: The digital landscape constantly changes, new web approaches emerge almost daily and web designers should constantly monitor design trends. Staying updated on the latest web design trends, technologies and tools helps designers to create modern web design and engaging web experiences.

Tools web designers use

Web designers wield an array of tools in their craft, and while the toolbox is extensive, there are some standard essentials that most web creators rely on.

Adobe Photoshop takes a front-and-center position, serving as a powerhouse for image editing. With this software, designers sculpt and refine images to perfection, ensuring they dazzle on the web.

When it comes to crafting versatile and scalable vector graphics, designers often turn to Adobe Illustrator. Icons, logos and other visual elements that need to shine regardless of screen size find their birthplace here.

For shaping web layouts and individual pages, specialized tools like Sketch and Figma come into play. These applications empower designers to construct web content and interactive features with finesse.

To weave all these elements into functional websites, designers can lean on user-friendly website builders such as Wix. These platforms streamline the design process, enabling professionals to craft polished websites swiftly, no coding required.

In the realm of color, Adobe Color lends a hand by helping designers generate customized color palettes that align with a brand's identity, creating a visually pleasing and cohesive design.

Typography takes the spotlight, and Google Fonts is the go-to resource for web designers. It offers an extensive selection of fonts optimized for the web, allowing designers to choose the perfect typefaces that harmonize with the overall website aesthetics.

Lastly, web animations inject vitality into modern web design. LottieFiles is a favored tool for creating captivating animations, simplifying the process of adding interactive and dynamic elements to web projects. It's a designer's secret weapon for crafting engaging online experiences.

Start designing websites with Wix today.

Qualities that make a good web designer

Curious about how to become a web designer? Let's discuss some qualities that make a good web designer.

First and foremost, assess your prowess in visual design. A solid grasp of design principles, encompassing concepts like white space, typography, color theory and visual hierarchy, serves as the cornerstone for crafting visually captivating websites.

Moving beyond the aesthetics, understanding human psychology is paramount. Effective web designers are in tune with the needs and desires of users. Your primary objective should be to construct user-friendly websites, where each page is optimized for skim reading. Achieving this feat hinges on comprehending how people interact with websites, including their online behaviors, preferences and motivators.

Last but not least, you need to be ready to work with people. Web designers have solid communication skills that enable them to articulate their ideas and explain design concepts to clients or team members. Soliciting and navigating diverse feedback can be a challenge, as opinions vary on how something should look and function, but it’s essential to be open-minded. Web designers readily embrace feedback and adapt their designs accordingly.

What does a web developer do?

Web developers are the architects of the digital world. They bring websites to life by translating creative concepts into functional, interactive and user-friendly online experiences.

Web developers are responsible for handling the coding and functionality of a website.

Key responsibilities of a web developer

The core responsibility of a web developer revolves around the craft of writing code. They harness a variety of programming languages to translate design concepts into functional websites. This is akin to constructing the foundation and framework upon which the digital world stands. They meticulously build the structure, layout and interactivity of websites to make the user experience seamless and enjoyable.

But web developers aren’t just coders—they also serve as stewards of websites, overseeing their ongoing functionality, performance and security.

Regarding functionality, web developers ensure that websites not only function as intended upon launch but that they remain operational and adaptable over time. This means addressing issues that may arise from software updates, changes in user behavior or evolving industry standards. They're responsible for fixing bugs, implementing new features and maintaining the site's overall functionality to provide a consistent and user-friendly experience.

Performance is another vital aspect of their stewardship. Web developers must continually monitor and optimize websites to ensure they load quickly and respond efficiently to user interactions. This involves streamlining code, optimizing images and media, and employing various performance-enhancing techniques to keep the website running smoothly.

The aspect of security is paramount in their role as stewards. Web developers act as the first line of defense against digital threats. They establish and maintain security measures to protect the website from vulnerabilities like cyberattacks, data breaches and other risks that could compromise user data and the website's integrity. By employing encryption, authentication and the latest security practices, they safeguard the website and the sensitive information it may handle.

Tools web developers use

In order to become a web developer, you’ll need to become proficient in writing HTML, CSS and JavaScript code for front-end development as well as back-end languages such as Python, Ruby or PHP. These back-end languages enable developers to build the server-side logic that powers web applications and manages databases.

Speaking of databases, web developers engaged in back-end development often work closely with these systems. You’ll need to understand how to interact with databases effectively, both for storing and retrieving data. This skill is vital for creating dynamic web applications that can process and display information from a database.

The code that web developers produce is typically stored in a code repository, and for efficient management and collaboration, they employ version control systems like Git. These systems help developers keep track of changes to their code, ensuring that multiple team members can collaborate on a project simultaneously without conflicts. It streamlines the development process and allows for the seamless integration of new features and bug fixes.

New to coding? Because Velo is a full-stack, WYSIWYG development platform that allows you to edit code without having to write any code by yourself, it’s a great tool for getting started.

Web developers use tools like Velo to manage their coding.

Qualities that make good web developer

Curious if you’ve got the qualities necessary to become a successful web developer? Because web development often involves tackling complex technical challenges, strong problem-solving abilities are paramount. Attention to detail will also come in handy since small errors in code can have significant consequences.

In an ever-evolving landscape of languages, frameworks and technologies, you also need to be adaptable to stay relevant and always be open to trying new things. A collaborative spirit and strong communication skills are also important, as web development projects typically involve working with designers, project managers and clients.

While creativity is often associated with designers, web developers also benefit from a creative mindset, helping them find innovative solutions and bring unique ideas to life in their projects. Analytical thinking is invaluable, allowing you to assess problems, data and user behaviors, leading to data-driven decisions and improved user experiences.

Web designers vs web developers FAQ

How to know if to hire a web designer or web developer?

To decide whether to hire a web designer or web developer, assess your project needs. If focused on aesthetics, user experience and visual elements, prioritize a web designer. For complex functionality, coding and backend work, lean towards a web developer. A balanced approach may involve hiring both for a comprehensive web development team that covers design and functionality aspects effectively.

Who earn more web designers or web developers?

Do web designers know how to code?

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