The difference between a website designer and a website developer

A website designer and website developer are two different things. Sometimes it can be the same person, but designing and developing a website are two completely different aspects of creating a website. But the two components can easily get confused and when you don't know much about the world of website creation, you might not know the difference. I'm here to help break it down in simple terms and help you understand what that means for you when you're ready to work on your own website.

website design website development

Designer vs. Developer

Essentially, website design refers to both the visuals of the website and its flow. Website designers are experienced in design, layout, function, and experience of websites and they will be able to help you tailor those things for your business and your audience. Web designers use design programs to create the layout and visual elements of the website. They typically work offline when designing a website and create the graphics to pass or to the developer.

A website developer takes the website design and translates it into a functioning website. Web developers use HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and other programming languages to bring to life the design files. They transfer the visuals to the online world and handle back-end technical aspects of the site that allow it to function as intended.

What it means for you

I believe that we should hire others to do the things we aren’t experienced in so that we can focus on our own skills and talents, and this is no exception. If you’re ready to upgrade your website, it might be helpful to understand the difference between design and development and how it can it help you in getting the most bang for your buck. Working with a website designer/developer will allow you to step back from the process and have your site professionally done so that you can maximize your online presence. Not all website designers can code websites. Not all website developers can create graphics and layouts for pages. Typically you can find a website designer first and if they don't do it themselves, they will usually have a developer or team that they work with to implement their designs.

Either way, it is important to do your research first. Know what they will be doing for you before you hire them. Are they just designing your website, or are they developing it for you too? Are they doing the development themselves, or do they have someone on their team that does it for them? It is important to know who is having their hands on your website and what each part of the process entails. There is no need to send your own design mockups to someone if you’ve hired them as a designer and there is no need for you to code your site if you’ve hired them to develop it for you. It is helpful for both ends to know and understand the relationship of the collaboration so that you can each do you part effectively.

For my clients, I am doing both the design and the development using Squarespace. I work closely with my clients and go through an extensive research phase before ever thinking about design so that when it’s time to work on the visuals, it comes together naturally. And then, after we’ve worked to finalize a design concept, I take it to the web and translate it into a live site. But beyond the part that you can see, there are a lot of back-end items that have to be checked off the list as well. In addition to designing and developing the site, I handle back-end settings (like domains) to bring it full circle and complete the project.

Are you guilty of assuming that website design and development was the same thing? It’s ok, it’s more common than you think. Next time you find yourself inquiring about one or the other for your own business, you will be better equipped with the knowledge to know the difference between the two and what you need for your own site.