What’s the difference between a web designer and web developer?

By Elliot Olson

By Elliot Olson

Lead Web Designer + Digital Strategist

| studio anansi

Although the job titles are different, there’s a lot of overlap between these two roles. Sometimes you’ll even find one person wearing both hats!

There are several major differences between each role. Knowing whether you need a designer or a developer can be the key to success for your next web project.

Think of your website as your house…

You have the physical structure of the house — such as the roof and walls. Then you have the content of the house — such as the furnishings and accents.

You wouldn’t hire an interior decorator to plan your foundation and select roofing materials, right?

And you probably wouldn’t call an architect to arrange furniture and purchase drapery.

Similarly, when it’s time to upgrade your DIY website, it’s helpful to know the difference between a web designer and a web developer.

What is a Web Designer?

A web designer creates the visual elements of your website, from the content layout to typography and color palette. Designers consider aspects like the emotions of your brand, feel of your website, and ideal visitor experience. Designers may create mood boards, user personas, and site maps showing how visitors interact with your site.

Many web designers are comfortable in website platforms such as Squarespace and WordPress. The best ones are also comfortable coding at least HTML and CSS, so they can modify websites with more advanced options.

What is a Web Developer?

While the web designer envisions your website, the developer actually builds the site. They structure content, create a framework, and troubleshoot bugs. Unlike a web designer, a developer may be only involved in the back-end of a website.

Can someone be both a web designer and developer?

Of course! For example, yours truly. ?

Studio Anansi is an integrated, holistic studio that offers both design and development. Plus, we’re able to effectively manage projects without any of the delays that come from coordinating between multiple organizations.

Do you need a web designer or a web developer?

Whether you need a web designer or web developer depends on your specific situation. For most small to mid-sized organizations, it’s probably overkill to hire a full web developer. You don’t need a web dev to build a standard business website or small online store. In those cases, you probably need someone who is 80% designer + 20% developer.

On the other hand, if you’re building an app or managing a large set of data, it’s important to have a developer who can think about the logical foundation and structure of your content. You want someone with more experience developing custom solutions and delving into code.

At the end of the day, you should consider what your website needs to accomplish to be a success. If you’re ready to upgrade a DIY website, begin by listing all the things your website needs to be able to do — whether that’s integrating with your email list, publishing blog articles, or selling an e-course.

If you plan ahead, you’ll be able find the best fit for your web project…whether that’s a designer, developer, or combination of the two.

Ready to upgrade your website? Check out our web design and branding services to get started.

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