Brian Rougeau

September 1, 2022 • 5 min read

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Web designer, web developer and web creator—what do they do?

Ok, lets compare the web designer vs. web developer. They are the two key web professionals you need to build a website. The web creator is a different kind of web professional, I’ll get to them in a minute.

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The designer and the developer

Ok, let’s define what a web designer does and what a web developer does.

A designer creates the visual aspects of a website. Everything you see and interact with on a web page. They produce page layouts but also focus on the usability of the website. They make it pretty but also user-friendly.

Now, a web developer turns the web designer’s work into a functioning website using code. They use programming languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, the list goes on.

A developer’s goal is to produce a well-structured web application that runs well.

Dan Barraclough from WebsiteBuilder.com has this to say: “Developers use their programming knowledge to breathe life into the designer’s creative vision. Think of developers as construction workers, and web designers as architects – both necessary, but different skill sets.”

 

There are three types of web designers

Ok, let’s break this down even further. There are three kinds of web designers; The UX designer, the UI designer and the visual designer.


The UX designer, or the user experience designer

They study the behaviour of your web visitors so they can develop a website that hooks people. They research how your customer feels when they visit your website. Essentially, they design the website experience.

Sergei Davidov summarised it in an article from Elementor.com. “Their role is to create human-centric designs that are based on data-driven decisions. This involves conducting a lot of research and testing to gather and analyze data, which is used to inform their final design choices.”

So, what methods do they use? They use all kinds, but a few highlights include:

  • Surveying or interviewing people.
  • First-hand observation of people while they use your website.
  • Using audience measurement software such as Google Analytics or Fathom Analytics.

They use these methods, and more, to learn what works and what doesn’t work for your visitor. Did they achieve what they set out to do on your website?

If it’s easy for them to find what they came for, they’ll have a positive experience. When that happens, they will follow through on your desired outcome. That is, respond to your call to action. Then they might also recommend your website to friends, family or colleagues. That’s what every website owner hopes for.

 

The UI Designer or user interface designer.

They design the visual components of your web pages. They also design how your visitors interact with your website.

Think of it this way, if it’s something you read, click or look at on your website, a UI designer arranged it all.

Their aim is to create positive visitor experiences. They thoughtfully place headlines, text, images and interactive elements on the webpage. Their goal is to make your website easy to use.

They ask questions like; Where do I place this button?, How big should it be? What colour do I make it? What should the contact form look like? What should this button say? How long should that block of text be? Where do I place the navigation menu?

Their goal is to create an effortless navigational experience for your website visitors.  When they do, people tend to buy products, sign up for newsletters, watch films or listen to music. Whatever outcome you set out to achieve.


The visual designer

A visual designer will make sure the website conforms with your brand. They ensure the layout, imagery, colour and typography are pixel perfect. They make sure that there is visual harmony across the entire website and that your visitor loves it.

Cameron Chapman from toptal.com has this to say: “Visual design was born out of a mixture of graphic design and user interface (UI) design. It focuses on the aesthetics of a website or any other type of digital design. Does the finished product look good? That is the question visual designers aim to answer.”


Web developers, there are three kinds.

Websites divide into two areas of control. The front-end and the back-end.

The front end is what you see on the screen. The backend is everything that goes on in the background. Things you don’t see but are at the heart of the website’s functionality.


The front-end developer

The front-end developer is closely connected to the web designer. The two are a website’s visual and functional soul mates.

The web designer dreams up the website. The front-end developer builds the designer’s visual creation into a functioning website.

They use coding languages like HTML, CSS and Javascript. They can also do this with Content Management Systems (CMS’) like WordPress.


The back-end developer

The backend developer creates the core structure of a website. Without their work, websites would not exist. They code the server, storage systems, security and database functionality. They do this using advanced programming languages.


The full-stack developer

Full-Stack developers have skills in both front-end and back-end development. They are in high demand because they understand all areas of development.

So your designers and developers are all equal partners in creating your website.


But, I only have one person building my website.

Is that ok? Yes. Some web designers know enough about web development to take on an entire job themselves. The same goes for developers, some will also design the website.

That said, larger web agencies, often use the more traditional arrangement. One where web designers and web developers specialize in their respective areas.


The web creator

This brings me to the third type of web professional, the web creator. Now, this isn’t an official name for them but I’ve heard the reference in some of the web industry forums I follow. 

These web professionals use a software tool called a page builder. Many web designers use them to build websites for their clientele. Some developers also use them.

Page builders are a no-code solution. This means that you don’t have to know how to write code to build a website. It’s a software application that is a kind of word processor for the web.

You drag and drop elements like text, buttons and images onto the page. Then the application writes the code for you in the background.

You still need design knowledge. But your coding skills can be a little more rudimentary or non-existent. Though, you can go further if you understand the basics of CSS, HTML, Javascript and PHP.

Website page builders have been around for about ten years or so. Divi, Elementor, Webflow, Bricks Builder, Beaver Builder, Wix, and Squarespace are some examples. They all have different features and levels of functionality.

Some people use them for DIY projects, but others use them for client work.

So you may ask, are Google or Apple using page builders? I would say not. The traditional arrangement between designers and developers is in play at such organizations.

But if you asked me, are page builders useful for small to medium-sized projects? Definitely. You can make very advanced websites with them. And the tools are only getting better and more sophisticated as time goes on.

There is a large market of web creators out there using page builders for all types of projects. So, if you are working with a web creator, let them know what you hope to build. They will tell you if they and their tools are the right fit for your project.

So there you have it, I hope this has helped you in some way. Knowing who builds your website should demystify the web-building process for you.

 

Do you have a question?

It can be difficult to navigate the process of building or redesigning a business or personal website. So, if you have any questions, drop them below. I will answer you directly and/or explore the question in a future blog/vlog post.