Should you hire a web designer or developer?

Hannah Rice

Hiring a web designer or developer is probably the most important decision you can make when creating your website. If you’re looking for a web designer or developer, there are plenty of options out there. However, you need to be sure that they understand what you want and can create it. That’s why knowing the difference between a designer and developer is so important.

What does a web designer do?

Web designers are responsible for creating the look and feel of a website. They use their creativity, knowledge, and experience to create designs that appeal to visitors and help sell products or services. Web design encompasses both the visual and functional aspects of your website, or the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). When designing the UX of a website, web designers need to be able to think like a user, knowing what features will be most helpful and intuitive for visitors.

When designing the UI of a website, web designers will select a layout for your site, choose colors and fonts that reflect your brand, and create graphics to make the site more visually appealing. They’ll also ensure that the site is mobile-friendly and responsive so that it looks good on any device or screen size. When designing UX, web designers will think about how visitors interact with your website—how they find what they’re looking for, how easy it is to complete tasks such as shopping or filling out forms.


The web design process includes:
  • Brainstorming about what you want your website to look like and what features it should have. This means you’ll need to decide what content you want on your site and how it should be organized. You can do this by creating wireframes, which are rough sketches that show the structure of a website. Once you have a plan, you can discuss it with your web designer so they know what needs to be created.
  • Identifying the best platform for the project. This step is important because it can affect how you’ll design your site, as well as how easy it will be to maintain and update in the future.
  • Researching other websites in your industry to get ideas for design elements and layout. You can also look at websites that have similar goals to yours, such as nonprofits or businesses in your community. This will help you decide what features your site should have and what content is most important.
  • Gathering information about the people who will use your website, including their demographic data and psychographics (personality traits). This type of research helps you understand why people might use a certain feature or how they would interact with it.
  • Creating mockups that show how different layouts will look on screen. This is where you can experiment with different layouts and features, such as whether you want to have a sidebar on each page or a footer at the bottom of every page. You can also use mockups to test how well your content will fit into various layouts.
what does a web designer do?

What does a web developer do?

Web developers are the people who create and maintain websites. They implement the web designer’s work into a full-fledged and functioning website. They are responsible for the website architecture, coding or building, and maintenance. There are 3 types of web developers: front-end, back-end, and full-stack.

A front-end developer is responsible for creating a website’s visual design and user interface. They work on the front-end of your website, which is what people see when they visit it. Front-end developers use coding languages like HTML and CSS, page-builder software, aka WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) developer tools, or a mixture of both (which is what I do).

A back-end developer works on the server-side of your website, which your visitors don’t see. They build the back-end, which is what powers your website and makes it run smoothly. Back-end developers use coding languages like PHP, Python or Ruby on Rails.

A full-stack developer is a combination of both front-end and back-end development. They can work on the entire website, but they’re often specialized in one area or the other. The difference between front-end and back-end development is similar to an analogy I like to use: a carpenter building a house vs. the electrician who comes in after the house has been built. The electrician may have built some of the wires for you, but they can’t put together your furniture or paint any walls. A full-stack developer can do your wiring and make your house feel like home.

Can I hire someone to do both the web design and development?

Yes! Some designers also build websites (like me). These professionals can be great to work with because they’ll be able to create a website that looks good and works well. They already know everything about you, your business, and the project by the time you need to start developing your website, so the entire process is smoother than if you were to hire two different people. Professionals who design and develop will typically do front-end development work and use a CMS (content management system) that has a back-end built into it, like WordPress.

Web Designer vs. Web Developer: How do you choose?

If you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need. This is why it’s important to have a clear idea of your business goals and website needs before choosing a web designer or developer. They can help you determine whether they are the right fit for your project—and if not, point them in the direction of someone who might be better suited.


Let’s break down some different scenarios:

1.) You should hire a designer if you have not started on your website at all. If you have a basic idea of what you want and need, but not the skills to create that vision, then it makes sense to hire a designer. The designer will work with both your business goals and website needs to create an attractive, functional website design that meets both criteria.

2.) You should hire a front-end developer once your website design is finished. This is the point where the design becomes interactive. You can then begin working with a front-end developer to create the website that your designer has designed.

3.) You should hire a back-end developer after your website design is finished. A back-end developer will work with the front-end developer to create the code that makes your website run smoothly. They are responsible for everything on the backend, including databases (which will house all the information stored on your website) and servers (which allows your website to pull information from the database and use it). You should not hire a back-end developer if you are using a CMS (WordPress, Shopify, etc.).

4.) You should hire a full-stack developer once your web design is completed and you want your website built from scratch (custom coded backend and frontend). Again, you don’t need to hire a full-stack developer if you are using a CMS. Full-stack developers are highly skilled, so they cost more to hire than a developer who specializes in one type of development.

5.) You should hire a Designer/Front-end developer if you want someone who can design your website and build it for you. This is the ideal choice is you are using a CMS, as the process is much smoother than hiring 2 different professionals to do each part of the project.

6.) You should hire a Designer/Full-stack developer if you want someone who can design your website and build it from scratch. This would be a useful option if you need a highly customized website and a seamless process. However, these professionals can be quite expensive and hard to find.

web designer vs. web developer

The Bottom Line

Web design and web development are different professions, though they work closely together, and some professionals do both. While designers are responsible for the visual aspect of your website, developers are in charge of building it. This means that if you want to create a website, you need both at one point or another.

Ultimately, who you should hire for your website project depends on your goals. Do you need to figure out what your site will look like and how it will feel? Do you need someone who can build your website and launch it? Do you need someone (or multiple someones) to achieve both? If you’re looking to create a website, it’s important to understand the difference between web design and web development. Both are important aspects of creating a successful website, so make sure that you hire a professional (or professionals) who can handle both tasks if necessary.