Web Designer vs Web Developer: What's the difference? by@reputio
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Web Designer vs Web Developer: What's the difference?

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So many businesses make the same mistakes when they set out to develop or redevelop their websites. Overcome with the compelling need to do it all as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible, many companies take shortcuts which, sadly for them, ultimately costs them more in the long-run. Compromising on web design is one of those shortcuts that far too many individuals and businesses take, even though great web design ultimately leads to better performing websites and improved user experiences, as well as improved conversion rates. Well-designed websites create confidence that your business is trustworthy as well. 

The Basics

But people often put web design and web development in the same bracket, thinking them to be one in the same and therefore justifying not hiring a dedicated web designer. The thing is, web designers are simply not the same as web developers, in more ways than one.

Professional web designers are dedicated to staying on top of changes in technology, coding and algorithms, website functionalities and more, so that the latest technology is being used for the development and maintenance of your website, thereby making the success of your business more probable. But they are also very creative, and dedicated to the task of making your website look as attractive and streamlined as possible.  They are, essentially, graphic artists who develop and style objects for the Internet, designing the overall layout and look for websites. 

Web developers, on the other hand, aren’t dealing so much with the aesthetics of your website but on how it functions. Simply put, a web developer develops applications and functionality for the Internet. Web developers usually specialise in knowing one or two coding languages, be it focusing more on front-end languages like HTML, CSS or JavaScript or on server side programming like PHP, Java, Ruby, and .NET.

You would rarely find a great web designer who is also a great developer, and vice versa. So it is important to understand exactly what role each carries out so that you know what to expect when you hire a designer or developer. 

Web Designers are Creatives

There are so many visual and practical mistakes that can be made when building a website: too much information on a single page, hard-to-use navigation, bulky websites with slow page load speeds, inconsistent look and feel, no clear call to action, and an inability to match your target demographic among them. These are all web design mistakes. By hiring a dedicated web designer, you eliminate these fairly major problems and give yourself a valuable competitive advantage in the form of a professional and properly functioning website.

Beyond that, web designers help companies integrate SEO or search engine optimisation into their websites - something absolutely critical for any business trying to compete online in 2020. Even the best-looking website on the web is useless if potential customers cannot find it. The right designers will also spend time ensuring your website is created using responsive design technology, so that web users accessing your website on smartphones or iPads will view a compatible version of it on those devices.

If it’s any indication of the growing trend for consumers to use mobiles before desktops: as of January 2018, 3.7 billion people globally were accessing the internet from mobile devices, up 2 percent from the previous year.

Above all else, it’s about building a clean, user-friendly site. The web development industry is constantly evolving and setting new trends, minimalism is always going to be relevant. A bunch of distracting factors on your website might scare some users away, but simplicity that puts usability as priority is always a good choice. And web designers are the professionals who know how best to achieve this.

Web Developers are Engineers

Web developers, on the other hand, are the people you employ to program the website and build more complex and customised web applications - if this is something you require. Some projects require a custom application or a complex security system, and if so, a skilled back-end developer is absolutely critical. 

Hiring a web developer will give you access to the best web tools, such as hosting and domain management, and they will run a site speed test after launching your site to check that it is sufficiently fast for users. Some extra roles and responsibilities that web developers often take on include: sourcing images for the website, helping you to understand the CMS (customer management system) after their job is complete, guiding you through the development stage and planning process, answering all and any of your technical questions, and connecting you to the right designer, marketing team or PR company to help you do the rest. 

There are some pretty substantial differences between the work that a web designer does and the work a web developer does, and understanding and appreciating this what sets the most successful businesses apart from the rest.


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