What’s The Difference Between Web Designers And Web Developers, Anyway?

Posted on 22 June, 2018 by Heather in

on a desk is a laptop a smartphone on top of a notebook a cup of coffe and a female hand writing in a spiral bound notebook

Picture this. You’re online, looking for a web design company. Or maybe you’re clutching a drink at a local networking event and hoping to meet someone who can help you with your website. Fear not! We’ve compared and contrasted these two highly talented species to help you discover them properly in the wild.

Web Designer

on a desk is a laptop a smartphone on top of a notebook a cup of coffe and a female hand writing in a spiral bound notebook

Job Description

A web designer has their feet firmly planted in both the graphic design world as well as computer programming. They create the layout and design of websites, but can also be responsible for maintenance, SEO and UX (User Experience). To put it another way, they are mainly concerned with the look and feel of a website, also known as the front end.


Web designers tend to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They can also work with website creation tools like WordPress and provide customisation that the average person may struggle with.


All bets are off of course, but people who are visually creative tend to excel at web design. They have a good eye for detail. They should have an artistic flair for combining graphic design principles and elements in a way that’s pleasing to the eye and also easy for visitors to navigate.

Freelance or Employed

You’ll see many designers hanging their shingle as a freelancer. You’ll also see a web designer or two lurking around most companies’ marketing and communications departments. As an employee, they work closely with their team of writers, social media experts, photographers and graphic designers to make sure the website is consistent with print materials and social media strategies.

Web Developer

a computer monitor with colourful rows of web coding and programming languages displayed

Job Description

Also known as programmers, web developers are more likely to begin their work after the powers that be have planned and decided on necessary website elements. They will look at the various components, organise them, and start coding to create the inner workings of the website. Web developers can also use a system like WordPress, but can use their coding experience to customise it much further than any out-of-the-box options out there.


Web programmers are well versed in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but also use PHP, .NET, Python, C, and Ruby. Super props to them for being fluent in so many programming languages!


The clichés around the internet suggest that the average developer has a personality similar to a robot. How rude! Yes, it’s true that a career as a developer is easier if one is detail-oriented, logical and objective. But creativity, especially when it comes to problem solving, is also really important. As is being able to communicate easily with others.

Freelance or Employed

Much like the designer, developers can do very well as freelancers, but can also find employment in IT departments the world over. That’s them over there, with their headphones in.

Begin your search for the perfect professional

As you can see, there is lots and lots of overlap between these two vocations. We hope that this will be a great starting point as you research your next project. Don’t be shy – ask either type about the work that they do, what they enjoy, what they feel they are best at. And remember, generalisations about both jobs can break down on a person to person level. You might meet a web designer who really enjoys next-level coding, or a developer with a fantastic eye for colour theory and user experience.

Whoever you choose will also depend what size of project and how simple or complex it is. And don’t forget that many web design companies will have several team members with different skill sets and strengths to handle anything you can dream up – almost.

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