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

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

At TJS, we offer web design and development services to clients around the world, but what is the difference between web design and web development and is a web designer the same as a web developer?

A designer and a developer are both involved in the creation of a website, but in different aspects of the process. Each requires a unique set of skills but, in a successful team, they will work closely together. Here, we look at the role of each and the tools and skill set they need.

What do web designers and web developers do?

The term ‘web designer’ is used freely when talking about the visual layout of a website, with the focus of a designer generally taken to be the style and feel of the pages. By contrast, when we hear the term ‘web developer’ we often think of the person who takes the designer’s vision and, using code, builds the core structure of the site. In other words, a web developer turns the designer’s concept into a fully functioning, live website.

When the internet was in its infancy, there was no differentiation between the roles and it’s fair to say that the result was a raft of basic, messy-looking websites. Indeed, the first website to go live in 1992, CERN, was wholly text based with only basic HTML, as nothing else was possible at the time, and the internet was used primarily to transfer data and images. By 1996, however, with the launch of the promotional website by Warner Bros, for their feature film, Space Jam, we can see how design is becoming more prominent. It soon became apparent that as more businesses began to operate online, the more a great looking site was becoming a necessity, in the race to win and keep customers.  

As the role of the user experience became more closely linked to the ultimate success of a website, (particularly an ecommerce site), so the need for designers to play a role in the development of websites grew. If we take the analogy of car manufacture, the developer has the responsibility for the components needed for a functional vehicle (engine, transmission etc.) that is, technically, error-free, while the designer is responsible for the aesthetics of the vehicle – will the driver and passengers be comfortable, is the dashboard set out in an easy to use way?

The role of the web designer

At TJS, our design team is made up of graphic designers with a particular skill set that enables them to work successfully alongside our developers. Designers working within web development need to have a deep understanding of how the principles of aesthetics contribute to a strong online presence. However, it isn’t enough simply to design an attractive website; good designers employ responsive and interactive design to capitalise on CRO (conversion rate optimisation), mapping the user journey and creating wireframes based on visual, UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) features. 

The role of the web developer

The role of a web developer is a technical one in which the developer, or programmer, uses coding languages such as PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to build a fully functioning website from the design. In its simplest form, the role of a web developer is to build the website itself.

Front end web development

Front end development, or client-side development, is more aligned with design than back end development is, and it uses code to create the things that users see and interact with. It involves the elements of a website that users experience directly (text colours and styles, images, menus), as well as the design, content and behaviour of everything users see in their browsers. As responsiveness is a main objective of the front end of a website, front end development often forms part of a designer’s remit to ensure the site appears correctly and behaves normally, regardless of screen size.

Back end web development

The back end of a website, or the server side of the site, is the part you cannot see or interact with and is the part of the site that users never come into contact with – it is essentially where the core structure of the website is built. The work of a back end developer involves coding on the web servers and databases.

Full stack development

A full stack developer codes both the front and back ends of a website and has a fundamental understanding of how both aspects of a website work together. In addition to coding website pages, full stack developers can also establish and configure servers, coding APIs (application programming interfaces), query databases, and much more.

Web design Lincolnshire

Based in Lincolnshire, TJS Online has an award-winning team of staff and a huge amount of experience gained since our beginnings in 1999. We offer the very best in web design and development, combining the vast commercial experience of our project managers, the creativity of our designers, and the technical wizardry of our developers, all of whom are expert in front end, back end, and full stack development. For more details of our bespoke web design service, call us today on 01507 525500.