Web Designer vs Web Developer: Which do I need?

By Amanda Iman


It’s easy to get web designers and developers mixed up. They both build websites, but their responsibilities are quite different.

What does a Web Designer do?

Web designers focus on the appearance of your site. Their goal is to build upon your visual brand, making your site aesthetically pleasing while also user-friendly.

Web designers construct your site’s layout, create call-to-action elements, and ensure that all the web pages display correctly on all devices. They typically meet with clients before working on a site and discuss what type of site they want to create, get an understanding of the company’s marketing and business strategies, and what features they want to offer on the site. Once this information is set, web designers create the look and feel of your website and a user experience that’s easy to follow and entertaining for your site visitors. They make sure your site has the right balance between aesthetically pleasing features and easy-to-use functionality.

To make sure their design is effective, web designers may conduct usability tests and survey potential users for feedback. They’ll also stay up to date with the latest website trends and technologies to ensure they are creating a modern and unique site experience. When paired with a copywriter, a web designer will not only solve design problems but also make sure the website positions the brand in the right way.

What does a Web Developer do?

Web developers build websites from the ground up. Their job involves a lot of technical work and experience with complex coding techniques and advanced programming languages.

Unlike a web designer who’s primarily responsible for look and feel, web developers are responsible for execution. Web designers come up with interesting and creative features for your site, but web developers bring those features to life. This includes coding and configuring frontend, user-facing features as well as backend servers and databases that support the frontend.

Once the site is launched, the work for the developer doesn’t end. They conduct post-launch tests and provide ongoing support for websites after they go live. This includes regular site maintenance as well as correcting any bugs that might have been overlooked during the development process.

When Should You Hire a Web Designer vs. a Web Developer?

If you’re thinking about hiring a web developer or a web designer, you want to make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job. With that in mind, below are some of the skills needed to be a successful web designer and web developer.

Web Designer Skills

Web Developer Skills

Creativity and creative problem solving

Familiarity with various frontend coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Understanding of design principles

Familiarity with various backend coding languages like PHP, Java, and Ruby

Photo editing and graphic design skills

Experience with APIs

Experience with SEO

Experience with content management systems (CMS) and eCommerce platforms

Understanding of marketing and business strategy

Analytical skills

Familiarity with various coding languages

Creative problem solving

Communication and customer service

Communication skills

Project management

Project management

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills


Ability to multitask

Depending on your goals and vision, you may only need to hire a web designer to customize your site. For instance, if you’re only looking to build a basic website, you might just want to hire a designer who can create your site’s layout and design. However, if you’re looking to build a highly complex website with advanced features, like connecting to databases, you’ll likely also need a web developer.

If you choose to work with an agency, such as Imagemark, you can gain access to not only web designers and developers, but an entire marketing team including graphic designers and copywriters who can bring your ideas to life.

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Amanda Iman

About the author

Amanda is a graphic designer and marketing professional with over a decade of experience leading design teams and developing marketing strategies from ideation through production. Her wide range of expertise includes logo and branding development, copywriting, print design, digital campaigns, and web design. She finds joy in helping clients engage customers with their brand, products, and stories in compelling new ways.