All Articles / Information Technology
All Articles / Information Technology

What’s the difference between a web developer and a web designer?

Websites are a necessity for almost every business. That means there’s a big demand for people with the skills to create functional, technically sound and great looking websites.

With a multitude of ways to go about creating a website, it can be a little confusing to know who does what. Web designers, web developers, and web builders can all play a role in creating a website.

How a website is created often depends on what they want to achieve, budget and the capabilities of the person creating it. The results can also vary wildly. From DIY methods to complex builds, the fact remains websites are an essential part of a business’s online presence.

If you’re considering a career in the web designing space, then it’s worthwhile taking the time to understand the differences between a web developer, web designer and a web builder.

Although there are self-taught web designers and web developers out there, more and more it’s becoming essential to know how to create websites properly. And that usually means getting a formal qualification to learn how.

Web developer vs web builder vs web designer

Unless you’re already in the website industry you may find it a little tricky to get a handle on who does what. Plus it’s common for many people to consider web designers and web developers as the same. They aren’t.

Then throw a web builder in the mix and it can all get a little confusing.

There are fundamental components needed to make a good website. That’s why learning the right way will be an advantage for anyone contemplating a career in the field. Learning what’s essential means you’ll be able to better serve your customers.

For example, ensuring the website has capabilities such as being mobile optimised is essential. In fact, the Google algorithm will penalise a website if it’s not mobile optimised. That makes it a whole lot harder for potential customers to find the site and the business.

Understand the different roles

Understanding the different roles and what each is responsible for can help you understand what type of role you want in the future.

Although some parts of a web designer’s job will cross over with a web developer’s job (and vice versa), there are distinct differences. And each needs to have a specific set of capabilities.

Web designer
Web designers are responsible for creating the appearance and usability of a website. They create all the visual aspects including the layout.

But creating a visually appealing site is just the beginning. They also need to ensure the website is user-friendly. A website that is logical and “flows” well encourages visitors to the site to stay.

Being a creative, web designers work with aspects like colours, fonts and images as well as being responsible for the “style” of the site and how it reflects the business’ brand.

Web developer
A web developer is responsible for the functionality and structure of a website. Being the builder, a developer creates code that makes the website work, as well as how it looks.

It’s this coding that makes each website unique and customised. It’s also what makes the site functional and user-friendly.

Web developers can be super specialised too. There are two main areas of specialisation:

  1. Front-End Web Developers
    Front-end developers code the actual website. Using languages such as CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and other languages, their coding and programming create the visual components of a website that users see. Website developers also use Content Management Systems, such as Wordpress to develop websites. front-end developers and web designers’ skills cross over and they often need to collaborate.
  2. Back-End Web Developers
    Back-end developers code the database and server for websites using advanced programming languages. Back-end development involves writing code to make website features work. It’s all about the aspects of the website happening ‘behind the scenes’, which users don’t see from the front end.

Website builder
A website builder is a platform or program that lets everyday people quickly and easily create a website. Plus some web designers or developers may use a website builder as the foundation for a website they create.

With lots of different platforms to choose from (think Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, or GoDaddy to name a few), each offers a suite of tools designed to help you build a beautiful and functional site.

Often used by small business owners and entrepreneurs, they’re an affordable alternative for those wanting to create an online presence quickly and relatively easily.

But there are limitations. And many untrained users find the website they build using a website builder can soon become inadequate as their business grows.

How things work in the real world

Bigger businesses will have specific roles for specialty areas. Web developers, web designers, graphic artists, UX Developers and Web Analysts all focus on their own areas of expertise

But many web developers, especially if they are self employed, will also complete the web design aspects of a website for their clients.

Similarly, many web designers will be able to develop a website. Often they use a web builder to do this, as they may not be proficient in code to develop a website from scratch.

All options are feasible. When you’re looking for a career in the web developing or web designing space, this opens up a whole range of options for how you’d like to work.

What skills do a web designer and web developer need?

Web designers and web developers need varied skills covering areas such as technical ability, client services, and the practical side of working in the IT industry.

Although not mandatory, having a formal qualification is commonly a prerequisite for web developer or web designer roles. Web developers need the following skills:

  • Understanding and applying coding languages to create web pages
  • Liaising with clients and colleagues
  • Advising clients on how to improve engagement and website structure
  • Programming with code to create some components on websites
  • Collaborating with graphic designers, copywriters and other web developers to create visually appealing and interesting content
  • Maintain and update existing websites
  • Troubleshooting website errors and problems

Careers as a web designer or web developer

Information technology is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia. making web design and web development a great career choice. Not only are people with the right skills in high demand, you’ll have a job that provides a lot of variety, lets you work from anywhere, and is creative and fun.

The news is even brighter if you decide to learn coding. It’s a skill that is becoming more and more sought after. The benefit is, salaries for those with coding skills are favourable. And although money isn’t everything when deciding what career you want, it’s something you should consider.

Web developers work as part of a development team, specialising in a particular area. Or they may work independently as a freelancer, covering every aspect of the development process.

Entry level positions
Not all entry-level jobs in web design and web development need formal education and training. But some courses like a Certificate IV in Information Technology from Monarch Institute puts you ahead of the pack.

Providing you with real-life skills that employees are looking for, the course is nationally recognised. Plus you get training and support from experienced IT professionals who know exactly how the industry works.

Carve out a career as a web developer or designer

A Certificate IV in Information Technology from Monarch Institute will set you on the right path toward a career as a web developer or web designer. Including relevant elective units focused on different aspects of web development and programming, the course is delivered online and is flexible. That means you can balance study with existing work and other life commitments.

With unrivalled support where and when you need it, you’ll soon have the skills you need to develop web page layouts, and design and build web applications. Chat to a Course Consultant about your options today on 1300 738 955.

Any questions? Ask away!