Here it is, the biggest confusion in the web development industry. Yeah, I am not exaggerating, it is certainly a huge misperception going on over the roles of a web developer and a web designer. The majority of us don’t know what exactly what are the responsibilities these designations hold in contrast to each other.
To be very honest, even I got to know this very recently, I have been taught web development by around 4-5 teachers and none of them knew the exact difference between a developer and a designer, they always mix it up. Well, it’s not exactly their fault, the tech industry has been doing this for a long time.
If you are a beginner in website development and want to know precisely about this domain then you are in the right place. I will tell you all the aspects of these jobs step by step, so keep patience and at the end of this article, you would know what is the difference between web developers and web designers and which one is best suited for you. If we talk about the basic definitions then:
What is a web designer?
User Experience (UX) designer
User Experience (UX) designers are concerned about giving the user a seamless experience on the website. Their focus is on how easy is it for the user to complete their desired tasks, is it a smooth experience for them or not. They carry out a thorough research of user demographics and study the user requirements to find out the most suitable design for the website.
The UX Designers carry out many activities like user research, interviews, competitive analysis, wireframe design, prototyping, user testing, etc. The purpose of all these activities is to create a skeleton of the website (also known as wireframes) which will be later used by the UI Designer.
UX designers make a prototype of the website and do user testing, if the user finds any glitches or design issues then changes in the wireframes are carried out.
A UX Designer is also responsible for creating a content hierarchy of the website. Content hierarchy simply means a hierarchy of web pages and the content inside them, like what are the different pages the website will have (Home, about us, contact, gallery, etc.) and what would be their content (like about us->Meet the team-> UX designers, UI designers, Visual Designers).
The wireframes and the content hierarchy will be transferred to the UI Designer to design the website according to them. And then that Design will be developed by the Developer.
Some Tools Used by UX Designer:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe InDesign
- Axure, etc.
User Interface (UI) designer
A User Interface (UI) Designer is concerned with the way users interact with elements on the website. UI Designer deal with what a user sees like dropdowns, buttons, and how these elements are grouped, etc. They are responsible for designing each webpage in the website according to the wireframes given by the UX Designers.
They are responsible for creating a responsive design for the website for different screen sizes. If needed then, graphic designing can also be done by UI Designers. Branding of the website and deciding the size and shape of elements are also a part of UI Design.
The tools used by them are almost the same as UX Designers. UI Designers make the design and send it to the Web Developers or Visual Designers (If needed). The document they create is usually a PSD (Photoshop Document) which is a well-designed document with proper measurements, which helps the Web Developers to understand the design more accurately.
A visual designer is kind of a mixture of both UX and UI but majorly focused on UI Design. Visual Design is a part of UI Design. A visual designer’s job is solely focused on the visual presentation of the website.
Sometimes, Visual Design is used interchangeably with UI Design but the difference between the two is that Visual designer is only concerned about effects of illustrations, colors, theme, fonts, paragraph style, etc. whereas UI Design is the whole interface including grouping of buttons, size of elements, responsive design, etc.
A simple example is that if there is a voice command feature on the website then it’s a UI but not Visual. A visual designer always tries to enhance the look of the website and its aesthetic appeal. In other words, you can say that visual design is a part of User Interface Design which focuses on visual effects, photography, illustrations, colors, etc. to engage users to the website.
It was all about the designers, I hope you have till now understood, what is the role of designers in the web development world. There are some more categories of designers like product designers, graphic designers, etc., these are just more categorized version.
If you are a good designer then you can fit any of these roles, these are just a more modern and thorough outlook towards the web designers. But anyway, in the tech industry, they demand almost all of these capabilities whether you are a specialized UX or UI designer. It is a reality.
What is a web developer?
Web Developers are the ones who take the concept of the website from the web designer and convert it into a fully functional website. Their role is to build upon the design of the website and tying up all the pieces together according to the suggestions given by the Website Designers.
As we have said earlier in the construction site’s example that web developers are similar to construction workers working under the architecture (Website Designers). Their only job is to code.
They would be given a PSD or any other document of the website design and they will start developing the website using different web programming languages.
Although, they don’t have to think much about the user interface and all other stuff, yeah, if they have any suggestions over some enhancement of the design, then they should pass it to the designers. It’s all about communication, a sound communication between different departments always benefits the product.
Web developers nowadays can use many tools to ease their workload a bit, like now there are frameworks like jQuery, Laravel, etc. and predefined libraries like Bootstrap, Font Awesome, etc. Just link the libraries and install the frameworks, you are ready to start coding.
Now we will talk about different kinds of developers you will encounter in the web development market. These are mainly Front-end, Back-end or Full- Stack Developers. All of these developers do only coding but they differ in the type of programming technology they use. Let’s jump into it:
Front-end vs Back-end vs Full-stack developer
Front-end web development is the first thing you learn when you start your journey in web development. Even if you are a Back-End developer, it is necessary to go through the front-end development technologies because you will do Back-End development over the Front-End code, so you should have the necessary knowledge.
- The Front-End developers develop the site’s layout or you can say the designing part of the website like developing a proper structure, using Technologies like HTML.
- They use CSS or its libraries like Bootstrap, PureCSS, etc. to beautify the website by filling colors, adding fonts, adding animation, etc., all according to the website designer’s design.
- The languages used in Front-End development are called Front-End programming languages.
It’s clear from the information given above that, Front-End Development is focused on developing the Website’s Design either Visual or Interactive. Right now the website is not fully functional as it has just completed that part of the website to which the user can interact, the User Interface.
Now, we will learn about those who develops those segments of a website which a user can’t see.
The back-end developers are responsible for all the abstract details on the website. They are the ones who design the core structure of the website. The languages they use are server-side languages like PHP, MySQL, Python, C#, etc. AS we have said earlier that users can’t see the work done by the web developers because it is all behind the User Interface.
For Example: Submitting form data to the database, fetching details from the database, creating sessions, managing cookies, server-side form validation, etc. A Back-End developer has a big responsibility as all the functionality of the website depends on their coding skills.
The Back-End developers can take a specialization in one or more languages or their frameworks. The languages used in Back-End development are called Back-End programming languages.
The easiest term to understand in this whole article is Full Stack Developer. A full-stack developer works across both Front-End and Back-End. They are familiar with both types of languages and are kind of experts in both of them.
They are a full package in terms of Web Development. The easiest term to understand in this whole article is Full Stack Developer. A full-stack developer works across both Front-End and Back-End. They are familiar with both types of languages and are kind of experts in both of them. They are a full package in terms of Web Development.
I hope that till now you have understood the differences between Web Designers and Web Developers. Although a person can be both, there are no limitations at all but it helps if you stick to one side, it enhances your skills. You can choose either of these, depending on your interest.
If you are a creative person, and very good at creating unique and beautiful designs then you should choose Website Designing. If your programming skills are good and you enjoy solving problems by using your different methodologies, then you should go after web development. Thank You so much.