Difference Between Web Designer and Developer: Who to Choose

Difference Between Web Designer and Developer: Who to Choose


Updated: April 09, 2022

When you need web work, people talk about web designers and developers interchangeably. Same thing, right? Nope. Learn the important differences.

OK. Wait. Don’t freak out.

We’ll talk about the difference between web designer and developer so you know what to look for.

What does a Web Designer do?

Web designers create the look and feel of a website. Think of a web designer as the person who handles everything you see (color schemes, buttons, pictures) and how users interact with the website (usability).

Programs web designers may use: Photoshop, Hotjar, Pingdom, Juicy Studio

Web designers concern themselves with what happens when a customer arrives on your website. Is it difficult to make a purchase? Book an appointment? Can the customer easily contact you? Is the website performing quickly or slowly? Is branding clear and consistent?

Difference Between Web Designer And Developer: What Does a Web Developer do?

Web developers (AKA programmers) use the web designer’s work (a static design) to build the website.

Web developers use a variety of programming languages and tools.

A web developer may also use a content management system (CMS) to make it easier for clients to edit the website after it goes live. Common CMSs include WordPress, Shopify or Squarespace. (A web designer is more likely to use a CMS that doesn’t require a lot of coding, like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix.)

One of the most important questions you can ask a web developer is for work samples that use the features you’re looking for.

Unless you have a lot of web knowledge, it might not matter if the developer knows HTML, PHP, or Ruby. What does matter is that they can show you their work. And, whether they can show you examples using your particular platform (e.g., WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace).

Web developers concern themselves with transforming a static design into a functioning website with buttons, sliders, blogs, eCommerce, etc.

Do you need a web designer or web developer?

It depends.

Larger, more complex projects may need to go to firms using specialists working in web design and web development. In this case, the web designer hands off a static design to a web developer.

Smaller projects may be handled by someone able to do both web design and development.

Having a clear understanding of the roles helps you set expectations.

Once you decide what type of professional to hire, please check out this resource to guide your hiring process:  Top 3 Questions to Ask a Web Developer.

If you’re not sure what you need, schedule a free consultation.

Jen McFarland

Founder, Women Conquer Business. Marketing pro. Leadership nerd. Project strategy innovator. Obsessed with creating solutions that help women-led businesses lead, strategize, and market confidently.


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