The roles and responsibilities of web developers and web designers can often be confused with each other. We’ll highlight the key differences between the two and how they can work together to deliver websites that not only look good, but perform well too!

What does a web developer do?

Web developers are in charge of building and maintaining the core structure of a website (and they can build apps too!). The role of a web developer is a very technical one, as they must be skilled in using complex coding and various advanced programming languages. Essentially, a web developer is there to bring the ideas of a web designer to life (after sharing their own expertise and opinions of course!) so that a site is more than just a pretty face.

There are actually a few types of web developers who specialise in a particular area of website development, these are front-end, back-end and full-stack web developers (and at Adido we’ve got all three!). Below we’ve highlighted their unique roles in more detail:

Front-end

Front-end developers focus on creating the look, feel and interactive components of a website in order to optimise user experience. Their main duties include:

  • Developing and maintaining the user interface - this involves coding and programming the visual elements of a website which users can see.
  • Applying SEO best practice so that the website is optimised for search engines and has better online visibility.
  • Mobile-first web design, so, no matter what size device a user is accessing your site on, the site will be responsive and users will have a positive experience.
  • Creating tools that help to improve site interaction with users.
  • Developing across browsers so that aspects of the website (such as images and text) are compatible with numerous browsers.
  • Fixing any bugs and performing usability tests.

Back-end

Back-end developers are the ones working ‘behind the scenes’ but whilst you won’t see them front-end, they are an absolutely crucial member of the team for ensuring the website performs seamlessly. Back-end developers focus on coding the database and server using programming languages such as Java. Their main duties include:

  • Ensuring that websites run and function smoothly.
  • Being responsible for server side web applications.
  • Writing web services and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) - this is the connection between computers/computer systems which offer a service to other pieces of software.
  • Maintaining core databases.
  • Troubleshooting website issues, testing and debugging back-end processes to ensure everything is running smoothly.
  • Ensuring that the hosting environment is set up and working efficiently.

Full-stack

Full-stack developers can code for both the front and back end of a website as they have a well-rounded understanding of how the front and back-end components work together.That said, full-stack developers aren’t typically considered experts in either area but they are essential for bridging the gap between both front and back-end teams. Full-stack developers are also responsible for setting up and configuring servers, query databases and APIs.

In general, web developers will also spend much of their time using analytics and reporting on website performance as well as working on system integration for clients who are integrating their websites with other systems (such as payment processing for Ecommerce sites). You can find out about the web development services we offer at Adido here.

What do professional web developers use?

The programming languages and software web developers are familiar with will depend on the type of web developer they are. Here’s some common languages and softwares professional web developers use:

Front-end

Languages

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • AJAX

Softwares

  • Graphic design tools (such as Photoshop)
  • Code editing tools (such as PHPStorm and VSCode)

Back-end

Languages

  • Java
  • PHP
  • C#
  • Ruby
  • MySQL
  • Python

Softwares

  • Laravel
  • Apache
  • Nginx
  • Ruby on Rails
  • React
  • MySQL

Full-stack

Full-stack developers will use a mixture of the languages and softwares used by front and back-end developers.

Looking for a website development agency?

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What does a web designer do?

Web designers are mainly responsible for creating the layout and visual aspects of websites - constructing prototypes and wireframes that suit both users and search engines. It is a web designer's top priority to ensure that a website (or app) offers great user experience, is designed with conversion rate optimisation (CRO) in mind and is visually appealing (in other words, it’s got to stand out from your competitors!).

There are three types of web designers, including those specialising in user experience (UX), visual design and user interface (UI). Below we’ve highlighted their roles in more detail:

UX designers

UX designers ensure that a website’s structure is engaging for visitors so that they have a positive experience (which, in turn, helps to lead to more sales and conversions). Essentially, they complete research and testing to create user-centric designs. Learn more about UX here.

Visual designers

Visual designers will focus on the visual aspects of a website and will take into account both appearance and usability of the user interface. They will work with brand images, colours, fonts and more to ensure the website is attractive and consistent with a brand’s tone and story.

UI designers

UI designers consider user interactions, meaning it’s their priority to enhance website usability and optimise it so that it converts well. You can find out more about CRO here.

It’s important for web designers to also consider mobile-first and responsive website designs from both a UX and SEO perspective. Whilst a website should certainly look appealing, it shouldn’t come at the expense of user experience or SEO. Users need to have a positive experience whilst using a site (or app) otherwise they could leave just as easily as they entered. In terms of SEO, if an elaborate design means that a landing page is taking too long to load, the website could be penalised (especially now that Google has begun rolling out its Page Experience Update that takes into account loading, interactivity and visual stability).

You can find out about the web design services we offer at Adido here.

What do professional web designers use?

Professional web designers will use softwares such as Photoshop, Adobe XD, Illustrator, InDesign and Figma to create the design of a site. In terms of tools used for the build of a site, they will use the same tools as front-end web developers (or work closely alongside them).

Looking for a web design agency?

Get in touch today!

How do web designers and web developers work together?

So, we’ve covered how web designers and developers are different from one another, now, how do they work together?

Designing and developing a website requires a collaborative effort between web designers and developers. Essentially, web designers and developers combine their creative and technical skills so that a website can look and feel great.

When a project comes through, web designers will look to design an aesthetically pleasing site which considers usability, SEO and user experience. They’ll then need to work closely with web developers who are there to make the dream happen. Expert web developers will know exactly what is and isn’t going to be feasible so they will advise on any considerations or more logical changes to the design. Both teams will have the same target in sight - to create an attractive website which performs smoothly and helps a business to reach its goals (such as an Ecommerce website looking to boost its sales with better CRO in place).

A web developer working without a web designer (and vice versa) is like wearing shoes without socks...not ideal.

Final takeaways

After diving into the specific roles and responsibilities of both web developers and web designers, hopefully you can now distinguish between the two and understand how they work alongside each other to deliver an attractive, fully functioning website which is geared towards CRO and providing an excellent user experience.

Here’s a summary of the main differences of a web developer vs a web designer:

  1. Web designers focus on the appearance and usability of a website whereas web developers will focus on functionality and site structure.
  2. Web designers create the concept of a website, creating prototypes based on visual, UX and UI elements. Web developers will then work alongside them to decide whether the idea is technically (and financially) viable and will code and programme the site.
  3. Web developers use more advanced coding languages and frameworks, therefore a web developer’s role is considered more technical than a designer’s.
  4. They use different tools for performing tasks - web designers will spend more time using design editing software, however, they will use the same tools for building a site as a front-end developer.
  5. There are three types of web developers (front-end, back-end and full-stack) and three types of web designers (UX, UI and visual).

Essentially, you can’t have one without the other if you want a website which performs well and stands out from the crowd.

Looking for a web development or web design agency?

Whether you're looking to build a new website for your business, migrate an existing one or improve your user experience, we can help! We are Adido, a web design and web development agency in Bournemouth with a team of highly skilled website designers and developers who can give your website that competitive edge. Why not contact us today to discuss your project and see how we can help?

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Meet the author ...

Olivia Gilchrist

SEO Executive

Liv works in the SEO team and loves blending creativity with technical strategies to help our clients' webpages reach the top of the rankings! Having recently graduated from ...