Website Designer VS Website Developer

What is the difference between a Website Designer and a Website Developer?

This used to be an easy question to answer:

Website designers create to look and feel of your website.

Website developers create the programming that runs your website.

However, the lines get a little blurred these days.

Website Designers can do it all (mostly)

I am a website designer, not developer. I used to hire out all the special programming needed to make a website function as desired.  Now there are programs that allow website designers to create the code that they need to make the website look the way they want.

In the “old days” website designers just used programs like Photoshop or InDesign to create to look of the website. Then they turned the mockup over to a developer that wrote the PHP or HTML code that made the website look and function as desired.

With the advancement of build-it-yourself tools, website designers do not need to know code to get the look they want for a website. In fact, we prefer to create websites with no custom code. This is for the benefit of our clients. If they want to update or maintain their own website, they do not need to understand or know code to do that. If they want to start working with another designer, they do not need to find one that knows code. If there is custom code on a website it makes it infinitely more difficult for the average business owner to do anything their their own website.

Website designers are usually more creative and can envision the finished website that the client has described. They are more right-brained and can usually communicate visually better.

When are Website Developers needed?

Website developers are often called programmers. They are needed when the website needs to have special functionality that has not already been created. Many website functions can be added by non-programmers if they are plugins or apps that can be added to a website. When the function is specific to a business it will need to be created just for that business. This is where website developers are needed. Examples of this are connecting to a database to manage inventory, sales, leads, etc. Some businesses cannot use the “out of the box” programs out there and need something custom.

Can both Website Designers and Website Developers do the same job?

Often website designers can complete your website project. The only time they cannot is when a special program needs to be written for the website. Often times, when that happens, the website designer will find a website developer to complete that specific part of the project. The client may never know that a developer was used.

However, website developers struggle with design aspects. They are usually very left-brained. Some even liken them to engineers. They have a hard time communicating and do not have the visual design experience to get websites to look complete. They can use the same tools that designers use, but usually lack the color and design principles to create an awesome website.