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

Web design vs. web development: an overview
The main difference between web designers and web developers is that the former focuses on the look and feel of the site, including the user experience and structure, whereas developers write the code that takes this from a design to a functional website. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between the two and how they work together to create a fully functioning, aesthetically pleasing website.

What does a web designer do?
A web designer’s main job is to focus on the aesthetics of a website, for example colour palette, typography, layout. They need to make it look good whilst keeping user experience in mind, to ensure that their design will result in a functional website that is seamless for the end user.

Web designers work from an initial brief to come up with a design that encapsulates your brand and the message you want to convey, ensuring it meets your specific requirements and any requirements outlined at the outset.

A web designer might specialise in different areas of web design such as UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface), which consider the way users will interact with the website, making it easier for them to navigate and improving the user journey.

A web designer may need some understanding of coding languages such as HTML and CSS in order to understand the feasibility and functionality of their design and the ways different features will realistically work. The bulk of the coding and technical aspects, however, are the responsibility of a web developer.

What does a web developer do?
A web developer takes the web designer’s idea and translates this into code. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as performance and capacity. There are three types of web developer:

Front-end developer
A front-end developer takes the web designer’s plan and turns it into a functioning design, focusing on the things end users will see and experience.

They use different types of code, like HTML and CSS, to implement visual and interactive elements that the designer has specified.

The design is transformed from a visual plan into an interactive site with all its moving parts such as buttons, forms and videos. A front-end developer will also need some knowledge of UX and UI as they are responsible for creating the overall experience and feel of the website. Working closely with the web designer, they will find solutions that result not only in a visually pleasing website but also a seamless experience for the end user that doesn’t compromise on functionality.

Back-end developer
A back-end developer focuses on programming the behind-the-scenes side of things rather than visual elements. The work they do is not ultimately seen by the user but is imperative for a properly functioning website.

The role of the back-end developer is to create the core structure of the website. They are responsible for the code that connects the website to a database, managing the data and serving it to the front end for display. This lays the foundations that enable the correct information to be delivered when a user takes on action on the front end. To do this work, back-end developers use complex programming languages e.g. Java, PHP and SQL.

Full-stack developer
As the name suggests, a full-stack web developer can lend themselves to both front- and back-end development. Most developers, though, will fit somewhere on a scale from front-end to back-end, with a specialism in one area but considerable knowledge of the other.

Do I need a web designer or a web developer?
If you are building a new website, you will need both – designers to think up the creative, visual elements and developers to turn it into a beautiful, functional website. They work in tandem to create a site that communicates your brand to a T.

Nottingham web designers & web developers
M360 is a full-service digital marketing agency with a team of specialists including web designers and developers. If you’d like to find out more about our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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