What is the difference between a web developer and a web designer?


In this article, we break down the difference between a web developer and a web designer.


Even though web technology is becoming a common part of everyday life, many people still don’t know the difference between roles that are played in launching a successful website. In this article, we wanted to focus on the differences between website design and website development. Business owners might think that they are the same, but they are actually quite different. Some Calgary web design companies specialize in one or more of these areas, so it’s important for businesses to understand the difference when seeking Calgary web design and development services.

Website Design and the Website Layout

A web designer is an individual who is focused entirely on the layout of the website and its effectiveness with users. These individuals focus on the aesthetic details in order to guarantee that your audience has a satisfactory experience when interacting with the website. In its simplest form, website layout addresses the aesthetics of your website. These professionals will take what functionality your website needs and arrange it in a way that is appealing to anyone who visits your website.


In addition to general visual appeal, website designers are responsible for making sure that they layout of your website makes sense. Clients don’t only want something that looks nice, they want something that is easy to navigate as well. Website designers will aim to provide a website that allows users to follow a linear thought process for effective navigation. These individuals take the time to think about what facets of your website should be grouped together and follow a sense of logic within the website.

Web Design and the User Experience

A huge part of website design is understanding the needs of the user experience. If you look at older website and compare them to modern website, you will notice some pretty big changes (such as website responsiveness for example). In more traditional web design, the work fell on web developers. These developers, who were no doubt help captive by their time, were more focused on functionality than a convenient user experience. Flash forward a couple of decades and we can easily see how websites have adapted to cater to users rather than focus purely on functionality.

Another important aspect of website design is a focus on the user rather than functionality. While a web designer must have a concrete understanding of functionality in order to provide an adequate design, the fact remains that these professionals are focused on making sure that everything feels right. These individuals bring together website development and marketing to create a complete user experience that is not only aesthetically appealing, but also engaging and helpful. In some ways, website designers focus on bringing together the best of both worlds. It is their job to take the technological design and pair it with formulas that appeal to the general audience.


Website Development and the Tech Aspects

When people think of programmers, web developers are usually who they are picturing. These individuals are focused on the technical aspects of a website. While a web designer might bring the vision and some of the more user-friendly elements, web developers are the people who will actually make the final product possible. These professionals rely on raw technical skill to bring a vision into reality, and they are responsible for a lot of the heavy lifting behind a website.

While website designers often do have technical expertise, website developers tend to rely on much of the straight technical skill to accomplish their goals. A website designer might bring an idea to the board, but a website developer will be the person who ultimately takes that idea and transforms it into a reality. They do the work that actually determines whether a vision is truly possible or not. In many ways, designers are idea generators while developers are the actual architects behind a website. They are two sides of a completely necessary technological coin that ultimately determines how a website functions.


The real focus behind website development is the logic at hand. While a web designer may have an idea of what could make for a great user experience, a website developer ultimately determines what is and isn’t possible. These two groups work together, but in the end it will be up to a website developer to create the logic that brings these ideas to life. Many people think that coding is a science, and while that is true, it is also highly artistic. Programming involves complex problem solving and original thoughts, and website developers use these ideals and concrete logic to provide helpful solutions.

Website Development and Coding

In order to be a website developer, you must have a concrete understanding of programming languages. There are many different web-based coding languages and frameworks, and a good website developer knows the best options to make website design a reality. Some languages are used primarily for function while others are more commonly used for aesthetics. At the end of the day, website developers must know what language and frameworks to use and how to use them in order to create a finished product that matches the original design.

Some of the popular web development languages include JavaScript, and PHP as well as various frameworks.

The difference between a web developer and a web designer – Conclusion

In order to be a website developer, you must have a concrete understanding of programming languages, frameworks, and database technologies. There are many different web-based coding languages, and a good developer knows the best options to make a website functional and secure. Some languages are used primarily for function while others are more commonly used for aesthetics. Web developers work in tandem with web designers in order to launch the best web product for their clients. Appealing and functional design paired with secure and effective development techniques is a recipe for success.

We hope that this article has helped you understand the difference between a web developer and a web designer. If you are seeking a full-service web design and development firm, look no further. Our extensive portfolio includes many examples of beautiful and high performing websites. Contact Clio Websites if you would like to talk to a Calgary based local expert about your next web design or WordPress project, or check out our other responsive web design services.

About the author

Nat Miletic is the founder of Clio Websites, a Calgary-based web design company. Nat writes about WordPress, SEO, and responsive web design.

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