Website Developer vs Website Designer: Which One Do You Need?

Website Developer vs Website Designer

As a small business owner, you may have heard the terms “website developer” and “website designer" tossed around and wondered what the difference is. Do you need both? Or just one? The answer, as with most things in life, is it depends.

When someone is unhappy about the outcome of their website build, it's usually because of a misunderstanding between the client and service provider about roles.

In this article, we'll break down the key differences between website developers and website designers so that you can decide which one you need.


Website Developers

A website developer deals with the technical side of the website. They may code or configure software to build and maintain your website. They handle the website's technical side and ensure it is functioning correctly.

A few key responsibilities of a website developer include:

Writing code in multiple programming languages, such as HTML

  • Testing code to ensure it is free of errors
  • Designing databases to store website content
  • Creating applications that run on the website
  • Integrating third-party tools and plugins into the website
  • Ensuring that the site is responsive (looks good on mobile)
  • Ensure the site works across different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.)
  • Updating software, plugins and other theme elements
  • Ongoing management to maintain security, speed and functionality

Website Designers

A website designer handles the look and feel of the site. They use their creative abilities to design a visually appealing website that accurately represents your brand. A few key responsibilities of a website designer include:

  • Creating wireframes or mockups for each page
  • Designing page layouts
  • Choosing colour schemes and fonts
  • Designing graphics such as logos and photos
  • They may look at the user experience and how visitors navigate around the website
  • If they are also part of your sales team, they could design landing pages

Website Developer vs. Website Designer?

Design and build are different functions, and it’s rare to find brilliance in both fields in one person.

The branding, marketing and design skills that inform imagery, fonts, colours, layout, conversion and visitor experience are very different skill sets and career paths to the data-driven tech focus for the build.

The techie developer can often make a good fist of design, but that only works out well if they and the client appreciate the limitations and compromise being made.

If you ask a great designer to sort out speed, broken links and optimisation, their creative side will probably scuttle off horrified into a corner.

A Useful Analogy is Building a House

The web designer is your architect, and the web developer is your builder. The builder implements the design to build a weatherproof house that stays upright.

If you have a massive budget, your architect can design a unique building for your builder to create.

If your budget is small, but you need a roof over your head, most builders can draw up plans for a simple design, which will do the job until you have more money to invest.

Start with people who know the techie stuff and will work alongside designers for the look, feel and customer journey if the objectives and budget stretch to hiring both specialities.

If there are budgetary constraints, the tech must win. What's the point in having a beautiful building on paper, which falls with the first gust of wind?

Our best advice is to work with someone who asks you lots of questions and understands their role in your project.

If you need some direction, give us a call.

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