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[Guide Included] Website Designer vs Developer: What’s the Difference?

updated 2024-04-03
Need to get your website up & running but frustrated because you are unsure of the difference between a website designer vs developer? Learn more in this article.
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Running your business and life, let's face it, you're a busy Solopreneur & CEO on the rise. You start to understand what you need to do to prepare yourself and your business for optimal online performance. This will help build your credibility and visibility online. The continued website designer vs developer debate will not escape you either on your journey. Many assumptions are made of the website designer and developer because people believe that if someone works with websites, they automatically understand everything that is involved with creating and launching websites. That couldn't be further from the truth.

In reality, designers and developers have very distinct roles and are responsible for different aspects of building a website.


Website Designer vs Developer

Working with websites doesn't automatically mean that someone knows how to code different functionalities or design sites for optimal conversions. All industries have specialties, including specific designs and development work within website creation. Understanding the difference between the two will be increasingly important as you continue to explore and grasp your needs. This will enhance the decision you make. Your job is to ensure that you and whomever you choose are on the same page with both expectations and results.

The Website Designer

Your site designer is responsible for creating that sexy user-facing look that everyone interacts with. The colors, layout, content flow, formatting, and placement of elements on your website all work together to present your brand to visitors. The overall user experience is part of the focus that's created with the help of the website designer.

They are responsible for ensuring that the tools used to collect information and payments from visitors fit comfortably with their experience, so that no one is left frustrated.

Your site designer is largely responsible for integrating your Brand assets into your site. From fonts to colors to visual and audio – all these are pulled together by your designer so your Brand is represented the way you envisioned, or better than. What your Brand is, your site should represent it. It’s ok to switch things up and tweak as your Brand shifts through growth.

Brand Misfit deciding who to hire website designer vs developer

The Website Developer

Your site developer is responsible for the functionality of your website. Code sometimes doesn't work as expected, but you end up with something “close enough” to what you want. Depending on your budget.

When a technical problem occurs, the developer checks your website to identify the issue and prevent it from happening again, according to your contract. Your developer is also vital to securing your website and all the data that passes through it.

No hacker should be able to slide in as smoothly as water through a crack. If you want to make a big change or do something in a specific way, your developer should be able to do it. The extra, extensive code development may come at an added cost – depending on your active Scope of Work.

The Fine-tuned Hybrid (Full-Stack Developer)

Instead of trying to figure out the difference between a website designer vs developer, consider hiring someone with hybrid skills. Finding a full-stack website developer who can handle both design and development is fortunate, as they are responsible for all parts of your website. They may be stronger in one aspect more than the other, so be aware that certain tasks may take them longer. If they work efficiently, they may have a stronger skilled person on their team to help them where they fall short.

This is no slight on them, but it would work to your advantage, as well as theirs, to have help and get the job done quicker and in collaboration. It works in your favor as you get two major skills in one person without having to hire two people for your project.

Hire Based on Your Needs

Figure out what you need to have done and which skills do you need, someone more proficient in design or development; all depending on your site functionality needs.

If they work efficiently, they may have a stronger skilled person on their team to help them where they fall short. This is no slight on them, but it would work to your advantage, as well as theirs, to have help and get the job done quicker and in collaboration.

When you're ready to hire and work with a site designer or developer (or both) you should remember that a designer does not equate to a developer and a developer does not equate to a designer.

The Rundown

Your developer may know how to get your site to work but lack the understanding of how to make it appealing and attractive to your visitors so they can become returning customers. Same for your designer. They may know how to create a fly site where people want to just stare at it all day, but they may be unable to help you if code goes haywire. Perhaps you prefer to code your site to do tricks and wow your visitors with cool details like the weather in their location and have the website display snowflakes or raindrops accordingly; you'd have your developer help with that.

The best way to go about hiring your website designer or developer is to understand what you need to have done. Ask yourself what type of website you need. Not only the look and feel, but the functionality too. There are many plugins that can make it easy to integrate your needed functionality, but you may need functionality not provided by plugins or known software. That is where the added help of a developer will come in handy.

Once you have our priorities listed, you have a better understanding on how to qualify your candidates. Remember that a full-stack developer will come with a larger investment but will give you the opportunity to have one person take the helm of managing all of your project needs. You'll be able to get more done under one contract and project.

Whomever you decide to hire, be sure that you are getting what you need and not only what you want. The functionality that will allow you to accomplish your goals through your website will be more important that a site that looks cute. If you can also pin down the processes your website should be capable of completing, you will have a better sense of what your budget should be for your project. Grab action guide, Who to Hire?: Website Designer vs Developer, so you will have the strategies at your fingertips.

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the brand misfit™
Charlene Brown,
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Through my A.M.P. Your Strategy Method™ my clients walk away with brand & site clarity for intentional direction so they take immediate action.
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• 2+ decades in Tech Life
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