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Web Designers vs. Web Developers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard that “tech is the future.” You may also have heard that learning to code is the most important thing you can do, and that there is a huge demand in the market right now for people with the skills to design and develop websites. These things are all true. But if you’re already thinking that you want to start making money by building websites, you may be wondering whether you should become a web designer or a web developer.

Web Designers vs. Web Developers

Which one is more suited to your personality; web design or web development? We’ve broken it down for you below, considering factors like:

  • designer vs. developer personality types
  • what kind of work designers vs. developers do on a day-to-day basis
  • designer vs. developer salaries and job openings
  • and what skills web designers need vs what skills web developers need.

We’ve also made this handy little infographic for you to browse, download, and share with your friends!

WEB DESIGNERS VS WEB DEVELOPERS

PERSONALITY TYPE

Web designers tend to be artistic types. Visual, intuitive, creative — web designers tend to be all of these things, and more. Very right-brain dominant individuals.

Web developers, on the other hand, tend to be more like Rodin’s “The Thinker.” Analytical problem solvers, web developers tend to enjoy figuring out logical (and sometimes even mathematical!) puzzles. Web developers tend to be more left-brain oriented than their design-focused counterparts.

MAIN FOCUS (day-to-day job responsibilities)

The job of the web designer is to design. This means that the designer tends to be focused mostly on visual, subjective, artistic things like colors, shapes, layouts, and images.

The job of the web developer, on the other hand, is to develop. The developer develops what the designer has designed. By using code, like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more, web developers dig into the browser and actually implement the beautiful layouts that designers pulled out of their colorful imaginations. So, on a day-to-day basis, the web developer is mostly focused on writing, reading, and re-writing code.

SALARY /  AVAILABLE POSITIONS

When it comes to monetary considerations, the age-old stereotype of the starving artist still holds true. Well, the web developer may not be literally starving with a median salary of $61,756 (according to the March 2017 data from indeed.com), but the web developer certainly wins this round with a median salary of $78,306 (data from same source).

There also seem to be quite a bit more job openings for web developers. At the time of this writing (March 2017), there are 49,835 unfilled job openings for web developers on indeed.com, compared with “only” 16,401 for web designers.

SKILLS

Web developers earn such high salaries because they’re highly in-demand, and they’re highly in-demand because they tend to have a lot of technical skills.

Whereas web designers don’t need much in terms of technical skills (knowing how to code at all is a bonus, rather than a necessity for web designers), web developers need to know how to code in, at the very least, HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Web developers also tend to be proficient with several other languages. Front-End web developers tend to learn languages and frameworks like Bootstrap, PHP, React and angular.js, while back-end web developers learn things like SQL, MongoDB, Node.JS, Ruby on Rails, Python, and more.

Web designers, on the other hand, mainly need to be good with visual design. It’s all about layouts, colors, and images. Knowing some HTML & CSS never hurts, and tends to bump up designers’ salaries as well.

WEB DESIGNER SKILLS

  • Image Editing (Photoshop, Gimp, Adobe Illustrator and/or similar programs)
  • Visual Design (color palettes, layouts, user interfaces, etc)
  • Design Paradigms (Google’s Material Design, for example)
  • Wireframing
  • Design Templates
  • WYSIWYG Website Builders (programs like Dreamweaver, and/or web apps like WordPress, Wix)
  • HTML (optional)
  • CSS (optional)
  • CSS libraries (Bootstrap, Animate.css, etc) (optional)
  • jQuery / JavaScript (very optional)
  • PHP (optional)

Note: the optional coding skills listed at the end (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP) can qualify you for many basic front-end web developer positions as well.

WEB DEVELOPER SKILLS

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • CSS libraries (Bootstrap, Animate.css etc)
  • JavaScript
  • JavaScript libraries & frameworks (jQuery, angular, react.js, node.js, and many others)
  • Web programming languages (PHP, Python, Ruby/Rails, etc)
  • Database languages (MySQL, MongoDB, etc)
  • Git & GitHub
  • Command line interface

Note: there are many more skills that web developers can learn to deepen their knowledge, enhance their skills, and increase their salaries. Above are just some of the basic skills that all web developers need to have.

CONCLUSION

While web developers tend to earn more money and have more job opportunities available to them, web designers are able to get jobs without having to develop all of the technical skills needed by web developers.

In the end, it may just come down to your personality. If you’re an analytical “thinker” type, and you don’t mind spending the extra time to develop your technical skills, you’d probably be best off becoming a web developer. If you’re more of an intuitive “artist” type, on the other hand, and you don’t feel like learning a bunch of difficult coding languages, you might be better off starting as a web designer.

Either way, whichever path you choose, don’t worry too much about it! There’s a lot of overlap between these two careers. It’s easy to switch from one to the other, if you decide to do so.

Our mission, at FVI, is to help people escape the cycle of dead-end jobs, all too common here in Miami. For that reason, we’re offering both web designer and web developer courses! Each course can be finished in under a year, on an evenings-only schedule (so you can keep your day job). Email info@fvi.edu or call us at 786-574-3350 for more information!