Web developer vs web designer: who do I need?

If you are looking to build a website, you might be searching for the wrong professional if you don’t know the difference between the two.

As a business owner or project manager, it can be challenging to determine which professional to hire for your web project.

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between web developers and web designers, their unique roles in website development, and provide insights to help you make an informed decision on who you need for your web project.

Web designer is the “interior designer”

Homes can be art or it can be purely functional.

Therefore a home page can also be a piece of art, but online.

There are many websites that are purely functional, like Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway website.

functional website with little web design

Now, if you wanted a website like Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, then you really don’t need a designer.

In fact, a website like the above can be done super easily by yourself, in the same way you can design a home by yourself.

But let’s say Berkshire Hathaway wanted to spruce up its website to make it look good. Let’s take a look at Fidelity Investment’s website.

Same topic. Investments but with more design — you can immediately see certain things being put front and centre. It also has a navigation bar and a colour scheme.

In order to do this, you need a web designer.

A web designer is responsible for creating the visual and aesthetic aspects of a website.

They work closely with clients to understand their branding, goals, and target audience to develop a unique and appealing design that effectively communicates the desired message.

In Fidelity’s case, they would have an established brand such as the green colour you see above. The white wordmark logo and their official font for the rest of the page.

In your case, you might or might not have it. If you didn’t, I would suggest a few colours and font.

During the design process, a web designer creates a layout, chooses color schemes, typography, and selects images or graphics that align with the client’s branding and vision.

Now, if we look at Berkshire’s website versus Fidelity, you can see that Fidelity emphasizes certain aspects.

If a user viewed Berkshire, they would think that everything there has equal weight.

This is where a web designer comes in. They also ensure the website design is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and responsive across various devices.

In addition to the visual aspects, a web designer also considers the website’s functionality and user experience.

Once the design is done, the web dev starts work

The web design is generally the first part of building your website.

With a reference provided by the web designer, the web developer gets down to work.

A web developer is responsible for turning the web designer’s visual design into a functional website.

In my case, I also help clients choose a platform that will suit their needs best in terms of budget, customizability and their team’s proficiency in tech. I generally use Strapi or WordPress.

The web developer works with the web designer to ensure that the website’s design can be implemented effectively and efficiently.

In addition to the website’s visual design, the web developer is also responsible for creating a responsive design that is compatible with different devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

A responsive design is critical for presentation. On the left, you can see Berkshire’s website as viewed on a mobile screen. It’s very small and you will have to zoom in. On the right, Fidelity’s website is responsive so you can immediately scroll through.

What is a “full-stack developer”?

They’re the general contractor who can do the walls, plumbing, electrical, but generally do not handle the design aspects of a website.

A full stack developer is a web developer who is proficient in working with all layers of a website, including both the front-end and back-end technologies.

I am a full-stack developer because I can design, develop and publish the website online.

What about DevOps? Do I need someone for that?

The need for a DevOps team for a website depends on the complexity of the website and the business objectives.

A DevOps person handles servers, security and scalability — basically aspects that you will need once your website becomes really large and customized.

For a simple website with a low level of complexity, a DevOps team may not be necessary.

However, for a more complex website with multiple features, integrations, and scalability requirements, a DevOps team can help ensure that the website is developed and deployed effectively and efficiently.

For most small businesses, you are unlikely to need a DevOps person. A web developer can generally handle the simple aspects of it.

It’s when you have servers and customized features, such as on this snowmobiling app that I created, that requires deeper DevOps knowledge.

Are you ready to hire someone?

Here’s how you can know if you need a web designer or web developer.

Generally, most people can do both with a varying calibre on each side. It’s only when you really want two specialists then you’d hire two separately. Or go through an agency who can manage both.

Ask yourself:

Do I want a very specific design?

If you want a specific design, then you want a web designer. A designer can produce the files needed to ensure that the graphics are up to your standards.

Is my website not functional, but design-wise I have everything I need?

Then you need a web developer. A web developer can make your website more efficient, reduce bugs and ensure a better score on page speed.

You can run Google’s page speed test by going here.

If you have a specific technology or platform in mind, such as WordPress or Shopify, you should hire a web developer who specializes in that technology.

I want to integrate something into my website.

A developer, particularly one that’s specialized in the integration, would help you best.

You might need to develop a voting system. That’s a developer’s job.

You might want to integrate booking calendar. That’s a developer’s job.

Payment gateways like Stripe or PayPal? Developer.

My website just got hacked. Can a web dev/designer help?

To some extent.

Ideally, you would have some backups. Check with your host if they do regular backups.

Then, you will need to restore a backup. Check with your host if they can do it for you. If not, you can hire a technically-savvy person to do it, likely a web developer.

What’s next after a website is done?

Here’s how you can set up a system for regular maintenance and ensure a smooth running experience for your visitors.

Have a project in mind?

Websites. Graphics. SEO-oriented content.

I can get your next project off the ground.

See how I have helped my clients.