Something that I am often asked by people is am I a website designer or a website developer? This is always an interesting question, because it sort of opens up the door to a conversation with the questioner, about whether they even know the difference between the two?

Website Developers

Generally speaking, web developers consist of front end developers who deal with aspects of the website that involved interaction with the end user. They are able to handle such technical skills as HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery and PHP.

And, then there are back end developers who handle issues such as making sure the site is accessible on the internet, taking care of server setups and databases.

By the way, I am personally capable of doing both the job of a front end and a back end developer. This is something not many “web designers” are able to do.

Website Designers

A website designer focuses on the design aspects of a website. They are involved in prototyping a site, creating wireframes, producing graphics and content and managing workflows in the development process.

Their skills are going to include proficiency in Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator.

In a team environment, a website designer may not even need to know how to program HTML or CSS, as they have front end developers on staff to handle that portion of it.

In a smaller environment, or if the designer is a freelancer, they might outsource the development portion of the job, or they will learn how to do some development on their own.

Does it matter whether you hire one or the other?

While one could get caught up in the semantics of the two classifications of jobs, I believe what is important is what a web designer or web developer brings to the table for their clients in the end. Understand that not all designers can develop a site, and not all developers can design a site.

I generally prefer to classify myself as a website professional, rather than limit a “title” to one or the other. But, this is mainly because I have experience on both sides of the computer, when it comes to website design and development.

I was a designer first, since my professional background was in graphic design originally, however I am also skilled in web programming languages and coding. I have even been hired by other “web designers” to handle the technical developer portion of things for their client projects.

I think it’s best that people not get hung up so much on the specific title a person has, when looking to hire someone to build their website, but rather, to be sure to thoroughly interview and vet the person they are looking to hire.

This will allow them to get an idea of what type of skills they do and don’t know and if they are going to be a good fit for the specific project or not. If you are stumped for the type of questions to ask, we have some starter ones for you in our article, 5 Important Questions to Ask Your Web Developer.

When hiring a website professional make sure they can bring to the table the solutions that will yield you the best return on investment.

As always, if you ever have any questions, I am happy to help! 🙂

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Nora Kramer
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Nora Kramer

Lead Web Designer & Developer at Nora Kramer Designs
Nora Kramer is a website professional and online marketing consultant with over two decades of experience in graphic design, website development and company branding. She also has a passion for photography and writing. Nora received the Charlie Award (1st Place) in 2002 for "Best Magazine Feature Article of the Year" from the Florida Magazine Association.
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