Web Designers vs Web Developers

The Differences Between Web Designers and Web Developers
and Why Both Matter

It’s no secret that I love WordPress and how easy it is to manage your website content on a day to day basis with it. The ability WP provides to make customizations and implement new features means you don’t have to know HTML or any other coding language… but it sure helps if you do…especially as your business grows.

This is where professional web designers and developers (read: me) come in. When you need special features unique to your business, it helps to have a seasoned designer and savvy developer to make sure you’re implementing your new feature in the best way possible. But, it’s not enough for the new feature to look good, it has to function well, too. This is what highlights the difference between a web designer and a web developer.

So What’s the Difference?

The short version is that a designer determines the overall look and feel of the website. The developer translates that vision into code and makes it functional. And that’s why you need both. Imagine remodeling your kitchen and only hiring an interior designer. Sure, the plans look gorgeous, but without a contractor to execute the design, what good are they?

The Role of a Web Designer

Web designers are responsible for the overall look and design of a website, but that encompasses a lot. They are tasked with creating an appealing aesthetic that also effectively guides visitors to convert, whether that be purchasing something, subscribing to something or heeding some other type of call to action.

This process also requires a serious amount of research and testing as well, so just a keen eye for things that look good isn’t enough— you need to know how it will perform as well. A quality web designer will be able to create a tailor-made visitor experience that will resonate with visitors. This experience must also be balanced by an understanding of how those design decisions will impact the coding of the website.

The Role of a Web Developer

We know the importance of making a site look good, but in order for the website to accomplish its goal, it needs to be functional as well. This is where a seasoned web developer can make all the difference.

A web developer can speak code and thus translate a design into the appropriate coding language. Using the power of programming languages like HTML, CSS, or Javascript (to name just a few), a web developer can make a design come to life, using a foundation of best practices and technical know-how. Going back to our remodeling analogy, a web developer knows which materials to use to build that dream kitchen and how to get all those moving parts talking to one another.

Where Colleen LeMasters Creative Falls

Within the design and dev worlds, there are also specific focus areas. For designers, they may choose to specialize in something like user experience, or user interface, while a developer may choose to focus on the front-end, back-end or both, known as full-stack.

Like many, I fall in the middle…of each. While it’s common for an individual to pursue either design or development, I have chosen to specialize in both. I have a keen design eye, with an understanding of customer psychology; meeting the challenges of good design satiates the creative side of my brain. On the other hand, my analytical side loves a good puzzle, which is how I view code. How can I efficiently use code to solve the design puzzle that is presented to me?

Honestly, both areas motivate me and I’m lucky that when I’m not “feeling creative” I can switch gears and code. On the other hand, when the puzzle pieces just aren’t clear, I can turn my attention to design and refresh.

At the end of the day, a well-performing website needs both skillsets. Being able to balance savvy design with strong code is what I love doing and the flexibility, as well as the drive to excel at both, gives me a unique perspective that you won’t find anywhere else.