Web Designer vs Web Developer: Who Do You Need?

Web Designer vs Web Developer: Who Do You Need?

You want your website to look great, but coding improves the functionality of your site. Don’t trust your web designer to know code, but don’t trust your web developer to design a great-looking site. Here’s your guide to a web designer vs web developer.

You hear about coding a lot these days. Coding websites, coding languages, Python, HTML, javascript – but what does it mean?

For your website, it means the difference between a working website and one that loses customers.

No one wants to lose customers! In our opinion, it’s worth hiring a professional design firm that has both designers and developers.

As we’ll discuss below, the lines between the two blur, but stick with us. We’re doing our best to explain the difference between a web designer vs web developer below.

What is a Web Designer?

A web designer is an umbrella term for a few niche jobs and is a job within itself. In general, a designer is in charge of the website’s design and visual appeal.

They create the page layouts ideas, the look the company is going for, and the feel it gives off. Then they create vision boards, templates, and sketches that show off the idea to the client.

Before they do this, they need to meet with the client to learn about their expectations. That’s when they discuss things like branding and what experience the customer has in mind.

Once they have an idea they can start designing aspects of the website using the software. Generally, this is something like Photoshop or Illustrator, but other programs exist.

In those programs, they create site graphics including logos, frames, buttons and other design aspects for the site.

Don’t let the technical aspect fool you. Web designers are artists. Their training includes the basics that art students learn, like the contrast of shapes colors and textures.

They have to learn typography basics and have creativity and imagination. The best web designers dabble in other forms of art, to keep their creative spark alive.

A web designer is in charge of the front-end site development, meaning the things you see. They need to stay up on trends and emerging design features to better serve their clients.

The Five Pillars of Web Design

To give you a better example of how art relates to web design, check out these design principles.


Like in-house decorating, art, or logo design there needs to be a balance of negative space to design elements. Without white space, things look cluttered and the human eye skips over them.

This also relates to color balance, a website should be around the same tones – not neon green and pastel orange.


While the general color theme should be in the same family, it’s okay to have a few contrasting elements. The intense difference in color forces the eye to pay attention and is great for important points or details.


Like we talked about above, there are some places in web design where you want the eye drawn. Perhaps it’s the order now or shop here button or a link to your funnel opt-in.

Either way, your web designer needs to make sure these aspects are easy to find.


As you can see, none of these design principles are completely separate from the others. Consistency and balance go together for color and design theme.

Web designers are in charge of making the site look coherent, not confusing clients with a different design on another page.


Put in other words, unity is the whole shebang. Do the colors work together? Are they consistent? Is there enough contrast on the aspects you want to emphasize?

These are all questions web designers ask themselves before they finalize a design.

Web Developer

Now that you understand a web designer is the creative, artist type, we can get into the nuanced differences.

A web developer has the same abilities as a website designer, but they’re more tech-savvy. That’s not to say that no website designers can code, but let’s pretend they cant for the sake of argument.

Both web designers and developers work hand in hand. Once the designer comes up with the pictures and design aspects, they hand them over to the developer.

The developer takes the designs and turns them into reality. It’s like the difference between an architect and the person who builds the house.

There are two types of web developers, front-end, and back-end. Both take intensive coding knowledge, but back takes more than front.

The front end developer does what we’ve discussed, creating the images the designer put in place. The backend developer makes the site work, coding buttons to take you to a certain page, creating algorithms, etc.

A website needs both types of developers, so make sure if you hire one they can do both or work with a partner.

Computer developers who can do both and design as well are called “a full stack”.

Web Designer vs Web Developer: Who Do You Need?

Technically you need both. Neither a web designer vs a web developer can exist without the other unless you want a beautiful but non-functioning site.

In most cases, you’ll find someone who can do both, unless they’re starting out. Many people who begin as designers learn the skills to become developers.

A design firm will have all the right people for your project and they’ll know how to work together.

We recommend going through a larger firm since you usually get a period of customer service for any operating issues.

If you use a smaller firm, ask how long the developer will work with you once your site publishes. Then ask if it comes at an extra cost.

Not to toot our own horn, but we’re one of those supportive web design powerhouse firms. We have both designers and SEO specialists who can help any size business.

Contact us today by emailing hello@felicityjaned1.wpengine.com!

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Jane Cluff

Senior digital strategist

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