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Web Designer vs Web Developer

by Taylor Slattery | July 18, 2023


If you’re a prospective student starting to take the first steps toward a career in the web space, you’ve likely come across the terms web designer and web developer and may be wondering what the differences are between the two.

While there is some overlap in the sort of design thinking that underpins each discipline, and the two roles do work together, the job duties, required knowledge, and skill sets are quite different.

The Current Digital Marketplace

It’s safe to say that without the internet, a great many of us would be lost. We’ve come to rely on web-based tools to accomplish routine daily tasks in our personal and professional lives.

The importance of easy-to-find and user-friendly web services has become increasingly apparent as we turn more to the internet for more of the services we traditionally utilized in person.

With a significant portion of service industries like therapy and tutoring now taking place online, not to mention the already booming e-commerce space, now is a great time to be involved in the creation of websites, apps, and web-based tools. 


What is a Web Designer?

Web designers are essentially graphic designers with a web specialty. Whether designing websites or apps, their primary concern is the aesthetics and usability of the site.

You may have also come across the terms UI and UX, which refer to user interface and user experience, respectively. These are closely connected to web design and many job roles will often seek web designers specializing in one of the two. 


What is a Web Developer?

While web designers are responsible for how a website or app looks and how users interact with it, web developers are the ones who make it work.

Web developers utilize various programming languages to bring the site to life and grant functionality to the user flows and features imagined by the web designers. Doing so requires vast technical knowledge and staying up to date with the industry’s latest tools and techniques.

That isn’t to say that web designers don’t need to have any technical knowledge—a working knowledge of HTML and CSS is a must. Anything you can add on top of that will not only win you some brownie points with the dev team, but help you to better understand what is possible from a technical perspective and empathize with the needs of web developers more effectively.


Web Designer or Web Developer?

So which one is right for you?

If you’re analytical, have a keen eye for detail, live and breath code, interested in the inner workings of websites and building systems and databases that allow them to function, then Web Development would be a great match.

On the other hand, if you’re the sort of person who’s eager to dig deep into the minds of the users, think and work visually, understand customer needs and struggles, and are passionate about solving those sorts of problems, then Web Design would be the way to go.

If you’re serious about taking the first steps toward a career in web design, a professional web design certificate is a great way to get started.


Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.


For creatives seeking a thorough training in web coding and front end design, Sessions College offers accredited fully online web design certificate and web design degree programs. Contact Admissions for more information.

This blog is powered by Sessions College, the leading online school of visual arts.

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