Are you a design-savvy individual looking to join the web development world? Or a budding coder who knows the importance of good visual design? If so, you may be asking yourself what is the difference between a web designer vs web developer.
The answer isn’t so clear-cut; there are many facets to consider. In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the differences, similarities, and intricacies between web designing and developing. We’ll look at where their roles intersect and how they complement each other in various projects.
Here at Inkpot Creative, we offer both website design and development in-house, we have experience with both sides. Over the years, we’ve designed and developed more than 50 websites and counting.
No matter your background or experience level, this comprehensive guide will help you decide which path is best for you. So hold on tight as we explore the differences of web designer vs web developer!
Web Designer vs Web Developer
When a client is getting a website design, they will need both a designer and a developer, unless they can find someone that offers both, and believe it or not, most people do offer both!
But there are quite a few people out there who only offer one or the other, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone kind of has their specialty, and some people prefer just to design websites, while other people prefer to develop.
What is a website designer?
So a website designer is somebody who basically creates the design for the website. So, for instance, when we’re designing our sites, the whole first week is spent doing mockups. That is pretty much all that a web designer would do. So they would create the design.
They will create the web design that will then be brought to life on the platform. So, for instance, let’s say you’re using Adobe XD to mock up your sites. You could be someone who literally just mocks up the entire site, gets client approval, and then you hand those files to the client for them to go find someone who will bring the site to life for them.
There are definitely some designers out there who just do website design because, let’s be honest, it is definitely the more fun and creative part of the process.
It’s the part where you get to work more one-on-one with the client and more closely with them to kind of figure out their goals. You go through website strategy, you have fun calls, and overall, it is the more creative part because you are coming up with the ideas from scratch.
So often, a website designer doesn’t even have to think about the limitations of the platform because they’re just creating what they think will be best strategically for the client. There are definitely people who just offer website design because.
Here in our business, we do offer development services for other designers and we actually do have quite a few designers who come to us pretty often for development services. And you know that could be just because some of them only really like to design, let’s say, in Squarespace, and you know we’re really good at Showit, too.
So they’ll come to us for Showit projects, and then they’ll keep all these Squarespace development projects in-house. And other designers that we work with are just so busy that they don’t have time to develop sites, so we pretty much just develop a lot of their sites for them.
I’d say if you are definitely more of a creative person, then if you want to do web design or development and don’t want to offer both, then you will probably want to do more website design.
What is a website developer?
Now a developer is pretty much what it sounds like, right? So a website developer doesn’t necessarily do the creative part of the design because they’re just taking the mock-ups that a web designer has created and they’re putting it onto a website platform.
Some people only offer website development because you can definitely make a living off of that. I also talk about that a little bit in my course Camp Site because you really don’t have to offer website design if you don’t want to, if you find that you prefer the analytical side of website design, so doing that development piece and bringing a site to life on a platform then you can totally do that.
In fact, Jessie and I pretty much split that between the two of us, so I love doing the design portion and I pretty much just do website design, and then Jessie is our developer, so she’s the one who brings everything to life.
So I actually haven’t developed a site in quite a few months. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve developed anything since March 2022, which is kind of crazy.
But basically, when you are a developer, you have to know your platform inside and out, and that’s not to say you can’t focus on more than one platform. For instance, Jessie does Squarespace and Showit, and then if we ever get Shopify projects, I’m still pretty much the one who does Shopify, just because I’ve used it a little bit more.
But you pretty much have to become a master of your platform, and I 100% recommend getting really, really in-depth with one platform to start and then just market yourself as a developer for that platform for a while, as you get kind of used to your process and you test it out.
So you could say I’m going to be a Showit developer, and then that basically means that you will just be using the Showit platform to bring websites to life for your design clients. By being a master of that platform, too, you’re able to work really closely with the designer and kind of let them know when something that they want isn’t possible.
So, for instance, with Showit, there is pretty much everything you can do in there, so there really aren’t that many limitations.But we still run into issues occasionally with our design clients where we have to say I’m so sorry, but you can’t do that in Showit.
Then what we do instead is just go ahead and mock up a few different options for them and say this is what we suggest, so you could do something like this or this, or you could even do something like this instead, and Jessie will just put together a quick little Loom video and show them their options, and then the designer pretty much gets to have the final say, and sometimes they will run it by their client just to be like “hey, are you okay with this quick little design fix?” Or they’ll just straight up be like, “yeah, let’s do that instead. I’m so glad you came up with this. That works perfect.”
So again, you definitely have that problem-solving aspect for both designers and developers.
What can you charge for website development versus design?
As far as what you can charge for each, I really think you can charge pretty much the same thing for each.
If you wanted to just be a website designer, you could still charge the same high ticket prices that you could if you were a website developer, and vice versa. One thing to note, though, is that if you’re a developer, it’s less likely that you will have your name credited at the bottom of the websites. However, it’s something that we don’t really mind.
We do white label development, so we don’t outwardly say these are the sites that we’ve developed or anything like that, so it still looks like it’s in-house for our designers. However, there are definitely some developers out there who, you know, put it in their contract that there is an extra fee if they don’t get a site credit at the bottom of the website.
That’s just something to keep in mind. It honestly doesn’t bother us at all. So it might not bother you either, and that’s also like up to you if you decide you want to be a white label developer or not.
We’ve just found that it’s been a little bit more successful doing just full white label, because, first of all, it helps just to get a lot more practice with development. since Jessie has still only been with us for about six months so far, which is crazy to think about.
Also, we don’t really mind because, at the end of the day, the designer is still the one who came up with that entire design, right? We’re just bringing it to life for them.
Can you be a website designer and a website developer?
So, I bet now you’re wondering when it comes to being a web designer vs web developer, can you be both?
Yes, you absolutely can. So for the longest time, I was actually doing design and development just under Inkpot Creative, so I was the only one doing it all, and I was perfectly happy doing both. I really enjoyed it.
But then, of course, when Jessie joined, we made the choice that she would take some time off my hands by doing development because, basically, I design the entire site twice.
If you do the mock-up process, which is what we fully recommend, and we go really in-depth into the mock-up process in Camp Site, you’ll even see me mock-up a site as an example.
But basically, you mock up that whole site, right? You get really, really used to what the site looks like, and then you start again from a blank canvas as you develop. So it can be a little bit repetitive, but honestly, I didn’t mind it that much.
One of the biggest bonuses of being a designer and a developer is that your clients really only have to go to one person, right? They don’t have to outsource their development; they don’t have to find two different people to work with.
So my recommendation is that if you decide you only want to be a designer and you don’t want to have to deal with platforms at all, be sure to find a go-to developer that you can like pretty much always go to when you book their services.
Then the same goes for if you’re a developer; try to find a few designers that you can pretty much consistently work with because if they like your process the first time, they’re very likely to come back.
So actually, every single designer that we’ve done development for has come back for at least one other website since working with us, which is really cool. So again, it really helps to have those good relationships with other designers.
When we work with clients, though, we do still try to, you know, tell them the difference between design and development. So, for instance, since Jessie is a developer and not a designer, during that first week of our process, I am the one mocking up everything, and since I’m the designer, we pretty much say, okay, at the end of this week, no more design changes can be needed or made, because then it’s getting handed over to Jessie, who’s not a designer.
Her focus is on development, and sometimes that second week when she’s developing, I’m working on a different project for another client and mocking up those sites. So you definitely want to kind of explain the difference between the two, and we also always refer to it as the web design mockup week. Then we have the development week on week two.
So that’s pretty much what we always refer to them as, just to make it really clear to the client.
I do think by offering both though, you can charge a higher ticket. So for our dev services, as an example, we actually charge only 250 a page. Well, you know that designer is probably charging $500 to $800 per page and maybe even higher.
And then when we do our actual custom sites, we charge, you know, closer to $500 to $800 per page, depending on the project scope and page length, because, of course, if it’s a really, really long sales page, obviously that’s going to be a little bit more than if we were just making them a blog added to their site or something like that.
Final Thoughts: Web Designer vs Web Developer
So I hope that officially answered the question of what is the difference between a web designer and a web developer.
I always think this is something that’s not that talked about, but it’s kind of interesting to explain that you totally can make money doing either, and I think it really goes to show, too, that you don’t necessarily have to be a super creative person to consider yourself a website developer or anything like that.
Want to keep reading? Check out these posts next:
- Should I learn web design?
- How to Use the One Concept Method & Strategy in Web Design
- 9 Types of Web Design Services You Can Offer
KP (she/her) is the founder and designer behind Inkpot Creative, which was founded back in 2020. She specializes in Showit website design, blogging, and SEO. Over the years, she’s built custom websites for more than 50 photographers and has helped grow client’s monthly website traffic between 20% – 77.7%. When not designing, she can normally be found hiking in the mountains, working on her travel blog Volumes & Voyages, or trying to find the best iced chai in her city.