Web Designers Vs Web Developers: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated on December 4, 2021 by James Wilson

Have you ever wondered the difference between a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

Well, by the end of this article, you will know the difference. I’ll be explaining what web designers do and what web developers do. I’ll also uncover the differences between them and detail when to use them.

Whilst using a website builder is a great way to get your website online fast, it’s not always the right answer. Website builders don’t suit every business or need, so reeling in professional help may be a better option.

In a recent survey, Statista reports Employment of IT professionals in the United Kingdom (UK) Q2 2018. The results show that there are still plenty of employed and self-employed web designers and developers in the industry. Clearly people do still need the aid of a professional, or else they wouldn’t be in employment.

What exactly is the difference between a web designer and a web developer? Although they are both involved in building a website, their roles are very different.

A web developer builds and codes the ‘shell’ of a website. They do all the nitty-gritty work in the back-end making sure that a website is visible to the end-user. A web designer makes a website look visually stunning.

What is a Web Designer?

Now that we know the basics, let’s take a more in-depth look at what a web designer is. So we’ve already established that web designers make websites look good. Whilst they probably won’t have as much coding experience as a web developer, web designers do use HTML and CSS in creating their designs.

User Experience (UX)

There are also different types of web designers. For example, some web designers focus solely on user experience. Their end goal is to make sure your website is fit for purpose, and this is reflected by how the end-user experiences your website.

This may sound simple, but there’s a lot of effort that goes on here. UX designers have to research into the website’s target audience/market. They have to make sure the website suits the needs of your website visitors (which can be a tough cookie in itself).

Here’s a few examples of excellent UX designs from Trone Brand Energy.

User Interface (UI)

Not to be confused with a UX designer, UI designers focus on how people interact with your website. For example, if you’re using galleries, videos, or even apps, how do these work for your website visitors?

UI and UX designers will have to work closely together and share feedback from both sides of the coin. Without each other, UX and UI designers will struggle to test and produce an awesome website. They rely on each other.

What is a Web Developer?

Web developers will work closely with web designers. A web developer essentially takes a web designer’s concept and vision and puts it into practice. Think of it this way; a web designer is like an architect. They come up with the designs. A web developer is like a builder; they build the foundations for the design to work within.

Web developers have several roles, like web designers. Each one contributes just as much to build a website, but has a different purpose.

Front-end Developer

A front-end developer works more with what the user can see. They tend to work closely with web designers than back-end developers. Front-end developers will have skills in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These all contribute to being able to develop apps and functions that a client will see.

Back-end Developer

Back-end developers will be more skilled in programming. They will know more complex languages like C#, Java, and SQL. Although website users won’t physically see what back-end developers do, they wouldn’t be able to physically visit a website without them.

Back-end developers have a close relationship with web servers, databases, and frankly things you probably don’t want to know about, or won’t understand.

Full-stack Developer

A full-stack developer is the most desirable in its field. They are essentially a front-end and a back-end developer rolled into one. They work across multiple stacks (front-end and back-end) and will probably be paid a considerable amount of money!

Web Designer vs Web Developer: How much do they cost?

If you’re considering hiring a web designer, web developer or even both, it’s important to understand their cost. There’s a large difference between seeking freelance work as opposed to hiring from an agency.

A less experienced freelance web designer generally costs somewhere between £10 to £35 per hour. If you want a more experienced designer, they will probably charge around £35 to £70 per hour. For web developers, this is going to be around £30 to £65 per hour. However, this is a very rough guide as each project will have different complexities. Most freelancers will likely charge on a per-project basis, rather than per hour.

According to Aligned Digital, this is the average cost of a website in the U.K. (including web design and development) if going through an agency:

Type of site Typical Features Ideal For Average UK Cost Aligned Digital Cost
Basic 1-5 pages
Template Design
Hosting & domain
Basic SEO
Self-employed workers
Small businesses in traditional industries
Best for those who do not need to update their content regularly
£300 – 600 upfront
£30-£100 ongoing
No Upfront cost
£25 per month
Business 1-15 pages
Custom Design
Hosting & domain
Advanced SEO
Start up Businesses
Established Corporations
Best for those who need to update their content regularly
£500 – 1500 upfront
£50-£200 ongoing
No Upfront cost
£50 per month
Ecommerce Unlimited pages
Custom Design
Hosting & domain
Advanced SEO
Product Updates
Any business looking to sell online
Start up to corporate business
Best for those who have a clear vision of their goal
£1000 – 2500 upfront
£100-£200 ongoing
No Upfront cost
£100 per month
Custom Solution Unlimited pages
Custom Design
Custom Development
Advanced SEO
Any business looking to sell online
Start up to corporate business
Best for those who have a clear vision of their goal
£2000 – £10000 upfront
£100-£500 ongoing
Custom Plan
Custom Pricing

When to use a Web Designer or Web Developer

Although I’ve explained in detail what both a web designer and web developer does, sometimes it’s easier to visualise this. I’ve put together a few scenarios in a table and outlined whether you’d need a web designer or web developer for each project.

Project Web Designer Web Developer
Create a mobile app
Issues with web server or web hosting
Issues with website speed
Edit photos
Add videos to your website
Design a new website or layout
Build a contact form for your website visitors
Create new concepts for logos and branding

Web Designer vs Web Developer: Summary

Sometimes you might want to visit an agency to hire both a web designer and a web developer. This saves time, effort, and money in the long-run (as opposed to hiring freelancers). Although a website builder is the most cost-effective choice, some people simply don’t have time to create their own websites.

On the other hand, if you already have a website, you may want to hire a web designer or web developer for individual projects. For example, if you want to rebrand your business, a web designer can help with this, and it may be cheaper to hire a freelancer.

All-in-all, they both offer something different. If you’re building a website from scratch, you’ll need both sets of professionals to complete the job effectively. Before hiring a freelancer or going to an agency, make sure you do plenty of research. There’s no harm in reaching out to their existing customers and getting some reassurance before you fork out a tonne of cash.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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