Web Designer vs Web Developer: Know the Differences

Posted on January 20, 2023 | Updated on January 20, 2023

Some people might be considering careers and want to know their options. Others might be entrepreneurs looking to craft a website and need to know who to hire. There may also be a few curious minds who simply want to understand what the distinguishing features of each job are. All are here for the main topic of this article — what makes a web designer vs web developer different?

While their names sound pretty similar, their duties for a website are entirely different. However, both are free to express their creative side when helping build an online destination. Here are the main differences between a web designer vs web developer.

What Does a Web Designer Do?

While both careers do have their imaginative elements, this job is the more artistic one of the two. Web designers cover — as the name suggests — the design elements of a website. These can include which colors, graphics and fonts to use. However, it can also have technical aspects like what menus to list on the site.

The web designer’s job also focuses on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). They are responsible for taking the consumer’s intent into consideration and crafting a website layout that is simple and straightforward for visitors to use. While some may dismiss the idea of creativity, a web designer is crucial for a business that wants to keep its customers happy and engaged.

According to Kinesis, it takes less than one second for people to form an opinion about the page they’re visiting. Additionally, 94% of first impressions are based on design and 85% of business-to-business consumers will look up a company online before deciding to make a purchase. Visuals are vital — and it’s a web designer’s job to craft the perfect experience to keep those users interested.

Day to day, a web designer will:

  • Collaborate with others on website creation.
  • Perform website updates.
  • Lay out and design websites.
  • Register domains.
  • Use design programs to form graphics, animations, or other visual elements.
  • Craft website navigation for excellent UX.
  • Create mockups and sample pages.

They’ll also need a few soft skills, like great time management, collaborative skills, and communication. However, they also need to know design programs — such as Inkscape, Adobe, or CorelDraw — visual design, and some coding. Many have a bachelor’s degree in web design or computer science, but there are also plenty of certificate programs aspiring designers can take advantage of.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

The technical cousins of web designers, this career has a bit more of a structural aspect to it. Web developers are responsible for creating the actual website with coding and troubleshooting. They build the whole website from scratch — telling it what to do through programming — and make sure everything functions correctly before launching the site for consumer use.

Unlike a web designer, web developers have three categories they often fall into. These are front-end developers, back-end developers, and full-stack developers. The front-end developer will integrate visuals into the website and use JavaScript and HTML to make everything look enticing. Meanwhile, back-end developers write the code and make sure it works to form the website’s structure. Full-stack developers take on the jobs of both and can create a whole website on their own.

A web developer may also take on the responsibility of webmaster. The webmaster ensures everything continues to function and keeps the site running smoothly. They also verify every application and link on the website is up to date and continues to work. Web developers take on many hats in their careers, but each one provides plenty of creative outlets and varying levels of obligations.

As was shown when discussing web designers, 85% of consumers will look up a business online before deciding to buy from them. If a company doesn’t have a reliable website, it will likely make fewer sales. Worldwide e-commerce sales make up $8.1 trillion and could make up as much as 24% of retail sales by 2026. Needless to say, the industry is enormous and will only continue to grow — such reasons are why web developers are essential. Without them, there would be no website to visit.

A web developer’s daily schedule could consist of:

  • Collaborating with designers, other developers, and clients.
  • Writing and testing XML, JavaScript, or HTML codes.
  • Addressing user concerns and making updates.
  • Inputting designs to the site.
  • Crafting navigation menus and UIs.

They will need similar soft skills to a web designer, in addition to being problem-solving, detail-oriented, and organized. Web developers will also need to be able to create websites that work on computers and smartphones. They should also have some visual design skills, as well as be able to code and understand search engine optimization. Also — like web designers — there are bachelor’s-degree and certificate programs to choose from. However, they may want specific certifications like Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate or Zend Certified PHP Engineer to verify their authenticity.

What Are the Salaries of Web Developers and Web Designers?

Though the job of a web designer vs web developer is quite different, their pay is relatively similar. However — according to ZipRecruiter data — web developers tend to earn a little more than their designer counterparts. This could be because they sometimes take on the responsibility of running an entire website.

On average, a web designer will make just over $60,000, or around $29 an hour. They could make as low as $19,000 annually, but these jobs make up just 4% of the industry. These may also be part-time positions designers hold while working other careers. Though Ziprecruiter states salaries above $72,500 are outliers, a web designer could make $118,000 depending on which clients they take on. Positions above the median make up 19% of the sector, so it is possible to make a lot.

The national average for a web developer’s salary is almost $76,000 a year. Hourly, they can make around $36. The lower-end pay bottoms out at $23,000, but these constitute only 2% of the industry. Though the average is $75,859, 16% of web developers make $53,000 to $62,999 annually. ZipRecruiter says the average salary caps off at about $92,000 but could go as high as $133,000. Those higher take-homes also make up 19% of the career — there is also plenty of potential.

Many web designers and web developers take on freelance work, so pay ranges can vary widely from job to job. Depending on how many clients they want to take on, developers and designers stand to make plenty of money from their career of choice. The decision just depends on what they would prefer to do.

Becoming or Hiring a Web Designer vs Web Developer

Hopefully, those who were looking for a career being a web designer vs web developer now have a better idea of the differences between the two. Businesses that need to hire one, the other, or both may also know which person will best suit their endeavors. Each job is critical to the crafting and user experience of a website. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, these positions are growing in number and need.

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