What’s the difference between a Web Designer and a Developer?

It’s important to bear in mind that the line separating designers from developers is very blurred. For example I work alongside many ‘web designers’ who posses impressive ‘development’ skills and also ‘website developers’ who can hold their own with their design skills. So let’s start to distinguish and clarify the difference in roles, by breaking them down into 3 more accurate skill-sets.

3 Core Skills of Web Design & Development

  • Front-End Web Design
  • Back-End Web Design
  • Website Development.

Front-End Web Designer

So a front-end web designer, in our opinion, would be responsible for the planning, layout and rendering of a website visual in a programme such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Fireworks. A Front-End designer would not necessarily be responsible for then coding their design into a HTML and CSS replica – unless that is, they also posses what i’d refer to as ‘Back-End’ Web Design Skills.

Back-End Web Designer

Back-End Web Design would be the process of converting a conceptual website visual, into a fully working HTML, JavaScript and CSS layout. As Back-End Web Design starts to border on website development, you may also hear the term ‘Front-End Website Developer’ to describe the same skill set.

Website Developer

So finally, a website developer’s role is primarily the creation and testing of server-side coding languages such as PHP or ASP to name but a few. These back-end programming languages can be used to create a myriad of website functionality from the algorithms behind price comparison websites to posting simple data within a contact form.

So, in conclusion we would classify a web designer as a creative individual who possesses either/or both front-end and back-end website design skills. And a website developer would be able to take a website’s functionality beyond what is possible with HTML and CSS by hand-coding complex programming and scripting languages. Hopefully our spin on the common question has helped clarify the difference for you.