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Web Designer vs Web Developer: Which Career Is Better?

The web is a place of limitless opportunity. From online shopping and social networking to streaming movies and playing games, there’s something for everyone. And behind every great website is a team of talented web designers and developers who make it all possible.

If you’re interested in a career in tech, you may be stuck between web designer vs web developer and wondering which one is right for you. 

To help you make the best decision, we’ve put together this guide, including an explanation of the difference between web designer and web developer careers, information on the job outlook of each, earnings potential, and more.

Read on to learn more about these two exciting careers in tech!

What Does a Web Designer Do?

Web designers are responsible for the conceptualization and creation of a website’s layout. They work on everything from landing pages and “About Us” sections to entire site builds, combining the right elements of font, sizing, graphics, video clips and more to make projects come to life.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

Web developers specialize in the creation and maintenance of website designs. Through coding and a consideration of factors like site speed, capacity and overall performance, they focus on the technical aspects of what it takes to make webpage features and functions a reality.

Types of Web Designers

Web design is a broad discipline with several specialties to explore. The following are three of the most popular.

UI Web Designer

A user interface (UI) designer is responsible for creating the visual design and layout of a website or application. This includes everything from buttons and icons to color schemes, typography, and overall layout. Pretty much everything a user interacts with on a screen falls under the UI designer’s purview.

UX Web Designer

UX web designers hone their attention on the user’s experience when they interact with a website. How they feel, what they see, their level of satisfaction – these are all important factors that a UX web designer strives to understand and enhance.

Visual Web Designer

As the name suggests, visual designers focus on the way a website or app looks to users. This includes elements like graphics, photos, and videos, as well as color schemes and layout. Aesthetic is king for visual designers, who often work alongside UI and UX designers to create well-rounded user experiences.

Types of Web Developers

As with web designers, there are multiple types of web developers, each specializing in a particular area. The most common are front-end, back-end, and full-stack web developers.

Front-End Web Developer

A front-end web developer’s focus is on what users see and interact with when they visit a website. They build everything from the overall layout and design to individual visual elements like buttons and icons. Front-end developers also code in the programming languages used to create these features, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Back-End Web Developer

A back-end web developer’s focus is what goes on behind the scenes of a website. They work with the server, application, and database that powers what a user sees on their screen. This includes everything from ensuring a site loads quickly to keeping data secure. Back-end developers code in higher-level programming languages like PHP, Ruby and Python.

Full Stack Web Developer

The best of both worlds, full stack web developers are comfortable working with both front- and back-end technologies. This makes them invaluable members of a development team, as they have the skills and knowledge to build a website from start to finish. Full stack developers are usually proficient in several programming languages, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP.

Required Web Designer Skills

While everyone’s different, web designers will typically need the following five common skills in order to be successful.

  • Creativity: The most successful web designers are creative individuals with an eye for detail and a passion for their craft. This includes being able to come up with original ideas, think outside the box, and bring designs to life.
  • Technical Knowledge: While creativity is important, web designers also need to have a firm grasp of the technical aspects of their trade. This includes codes like HTML and CSS as well as an understanding of design principles like layout, color theory, and typography.
  • Communication: Web designers need to be able to communicate effectively with their team and clients. This includes being able to understand what a client wants, conveying ideas clearly, and being able to take criticism constructively.
  • Time Management: Web design projects usually have strict deadlines, so web designers need to be able to manage their time effectively in order to get the job done on time.
  • Collaboration: Web designers usually work as part of a team, so it’s important that they’re able to collaborate effectively with others. Being able to work well under pressure, take direction and give constructive feedback are all important abilities in this regard.

Required Web Developer Skills

Web development also requires a specific skill set in order to be successful. Here are five skills that all web developers should possess.

  • Technical Knowledge: Like web designers, web developers need to have a firm grasp of the technical aspects of their work. More specifically, they need to understand the various full-stack coding languages used to build websites, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the way front and back-end systems work, and how to use server-side scripting languages like PHP, Ruby on Rails and Python.
  • Creativity: Despite what some may think, creativity is still important in web development. While not to the same extent as web design, developers still need to be able to come up with original ideas and think outside the box when solving problems.
  • Testing and Debugging Knowledge: One of the most important aspects of web development is testing and debugging code to ensure that everything is working as it should. This includes finding and fixing errors, making sure code is compatible with different browsers and devices, and making sure that websites are able to handle heavy traffic.
  • Problem-solving Skills: Web developers are often faced with complex problems that need to be solved in a creative and efficient way. This requires strong problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to think on one’s feet and come up with innovative solutions.
  • Time Management: Like web designers, web developers need to be able to manage their time effectively in order to meet deadlines and stay within budget.

The Average Web Designer Salary

So, how much can you expect to make as a web designer? On average, web designer jobs tend to earn between $50,000 to $57,000. This depends on a number of factors like experience, location, and employer. Some disciplines of web design –  like UX design, for example – are in higher demand than others, so that can also affect earnings potential. 

The Average Web Developer Salary

Web developer jobs generally bring in more money than web designers. Because of their variations between front, back and full-stack skills, they can have a wide range in salary. In general, you can expect to earn anywhere between $60,000 and $90,000 as a web developer. Again, this depends on factors like experience, employer, and location.

Web Designer vs Web Developer: Which Career Is Right for You?

Considering a career in web design or development and not sure which one to choose? We’ve compiled these overviews to give you a better idea of what each profession has to offer.

Reasons to Choose Web Design

  • Web design offers a creative and challenging outlet for those with an artistic bent
  • It’s a field that is constantly evolving, which means there’s always something new to learn
  • As the demand for well-designed websites continues to grow, so does the demand for web designers
  • Web design is a versatile field, with opportunities to work in many different industries
  • Web design is a relatively low-cost field to get into, making it an accessible option for many people

Reasons to Choose Web Development

  • Web development is a field that is in high demand, and that’s not likely to change
  • Web developers are paid well, with the potential to earn a six-figure salary
  • While web development can be challenging, it is also very rewarding
  • Web development offers the opportunity to work with a wide range of technologies
  • Web developers can work freelance or as part of a team

No matter which field you choose, a career in web design or development can be both challenging and rewarding. With the right training and some hard work, you can turn your passion for the web into a successful and lucrative career.