In the ever-encroaching digital age, businesses from the enormous to the microscopic must have an online presence. Creating a high-quality company website is now an absolute necessity for a growing business.

When looking for someone to build and maintain their website, business owners are faced with a choice of whom to hire. A web designer? Or a web developer? Are they the same thing?

When searching, it seems these job descriptions share an overlap which can come across as unclear. Which do you choose? How can you decide when, at times, they are promoted as interchangeable?

Here are some differences to help you choose the right one.

Web Designers

Designers are focused on the aesthetic of the website, their responsibility is to the user and the client. They use tools like Adobe Photoshop to create original visual elements, as well as dabble in code with tools like HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for a visually pleasing medium. Ultimately, the designer’s duty is to the look and feel of the site.

Which is quite important considering, 38% of people will click off a site with an unattractive layout. A good designer can make or break a business’s online presence. Often a company only has 10 seconds or less to grab a new consumer’s attention and 48% of people say a website’s design is their first step in deciding the credibility of a business.

The design of a site is the first impression to the consumer. Being able to “feel” the look and flow of the website is important when choosing to hire a designer. They make sure each page connects to the next, so when exploring the company’s pages we never feel we leave the site.

Designers should be keeping up with the latest design trends and paying attention to major companies like Facebook and Google. Having a working knowledge of these two industry mammoths keeps your website to the standard users expect and helps your site’s search ranking.

A designer also has a responsibility to the performance and functionality of the website, as well as creating a prototype for the client to approve before launching online. Designers must carry out the client’s brand not only with homepage layout, but graphic design for their product catalog and advertising. This advertising may also include a brand logo.

When in need of a new homepage layout, new website branding, or edits to photos and videos. Call the designer. Although designers should have a working knowledge of code, they usually do not code the website to function themselves.

Web Developers

Web developers are responsible for the internal workings of a website. They work to build the designer’s concept so it is functional. A web designer’s visual layout of the site is given to the developer as an image, the developer takes the design and codes each section to perform its assigned task. As they are building the website they are also responsible for maintaining its functionality for the users.

Some statistics to consider in the importance of web development; 47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and 39% of people will stop using a website if the images won’t load or take too long. Without the developer, visitors to your website can easily become a part of these statistics.

Regardless of whether you are looking out for web design or web development for your brand, is the one stop shop for all your website needs.

There are three different types of web developers:

Front End Development (Client Development):

They use tools like HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc., they work with what the client can see. These developers are working closely with the designer from the beginning phases of the website’s structure. They are building the frameworks for user interaction and creating the full-fledged functionality of the site.

Back End Development (Server Development):

Programming on the back end is mainly done for dynamic data collection. If your users are submitting forms with personal information, creating accounts, or saving an article you posted, your website will need a database connection.

These developers speak a specific programming language like Python, Jango, or Ruby on Rails. They are also doing the dirty work of testing and fixing bugs.

Full Stack Development:

These are the guys who do it all! They are the full package deal working successfully on the front and back end, considered both “stacks”. They are the web development “chosen ones” who speak both languages of code, although they may be more proficient in one over the other.

Full stack developers can come at a bargain, and are great for small projects, but when dealing with a larger task, it might be nice to have each individual job be done by one person.

Web developers are the ones bringing your brand directly to the consumer. When in need of a new contact form, creating a mobile app, or someone to fix server and hosting issues, call the developer! They are experts in the language necessary for websites to survive in the wild world of the internet.

When Two Worlds Collide

Researching web design and development for launching your online presence can be confusing because of the blurred lines between these job descriptions. When starting a website from the ground up, it is best to be working with both the developer and the designer.

There are designers who can perform the designing tasks and front end development. Effectively they can build a site themselves, some would call them “unicorns”. Although these unicorns exist, most companies choose to hire both a developer and a designer when building a new website.

The designer would work one on one with the client, setting concepts and expectations for the site. After approval, the designer brings the new design to the front end developer to make the site usable and mobile-friendly. And finally, if the website requires data collection or consumer interaction, the website would go to the back end developer.

The good news is no matter if you’re looking to start from scratch, redesign, or just have a small issue, the internet is teeming with well-versed developers and designers ready to make your website the best it can be.