The Difference between a Web Designer, Web Developer, and Web Programmer

The terms Web Designer, Web Developer, and Web Programmer are jobs that are commonly confused, and they are very closely related. They all have to work individually in order for the overall website to function properly. However, they all deal with slightly different aspects of the site. Put them all together, though, and you have a working, aesthetically pleasing, website.

A lot of people use the phrases interchangeably. Although they do have a lot to do with each other, they are not the same. And here is where I’ll tell you why!


What is a Web Designer?

A Web designer is actually a mixture of both a graphic designer and a web programmer. By that, I mean that they take the design created by the team, and use programming to turn it into a part of the website. With that being said, they must know coding in addition to design.

If they are given a logo that needs to be put in the top corner of the website, they figure out how to program it in. They must put it at the exact location with the exact same design that was given to them.

A lot of the times, a designer can do anything from graphic design to web programming. The job “web design” typically does not fall to one person, but rather is delegated to all the people on the website’s team.

A web designer can deal with the unseen coding of a website and sometimes even the back-end development. Web designers can take part in both front end information and back end information. Overall, the job of a web designer is to present the products and/ or services in the way that the client requests.

They have to be able to create a website that is aesthetically pleasing. In contrast to a graphic designer, web designers focus on the web rather than Photoshop. They code the information to get the correct colors, fonts, and layout on the website. 

You should be competent at the skills of UX and UI design, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is important to know these coding languages in order to be able to progress in the career. 


What is a Web Developer?

Web development and web programming are very similar and are often used interchangeably. They look at the functionality of a website. They use code to make sure the website is easy to use. The website's functionality is their main priority.

They must know the basic information architecture and understand wireframes and sitemaps. A web developer is able to build a website from the ground up.

There are three parts to web development.

First there is client-side scripting, otherwise known as the front end development. There is server-side scripting, otherwise known as the back end. And finally there is database technology, which helps keep the website functioning smoothly.

Client-side scripting is what shows up on the screen to the users. Server-side scripting keeps the database communicating with the user’s computer. And lastly, database technology is what makes the actual database.

It is essential to have a knack for coding if you want to be a web developer. There are a lot of different languages that you should know for the different parts of web development.

Client-side languages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

Server-side language:

  • PHP
  • .Net
  • Python
  • Ruby

Database technologies:

  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL 
  • SQLite
  • Oracle
  • MondoDB


What is a Web Programmer?

A web programmer is a person behind the curtain who makes all the magic (functionality) happen. They are the ones in charge of keeping the website running. They make it possible to take the information entered into a website and save it to a database.

Using code is the major requirement for this job, as coding is essentially the same thing as programming. They program the website to keep the wheels turning and keep the website up and running. Web programming often includes intense coding languages such as those mentioned below.

Examples of some coding languages:

  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • Python
  • C++
  • PHP
  • IOS
  • Ruby

Say the client asks for the website to be able to do something like run credit cards at a checkout. It is the programmers who are responsible for translating the given information into web language and interfacing with the proper APIs. The coding language is what allows the website to accept the payment. So, web programmers are in charge of the technical aspect of a running site with working processes. This is similar to that of a back end developer.



To sum it up, a web designer is the uses code to create the website’s front end. A web developer is able to create the website from the ground up, with the skills of a web designer and a web programmer.  A web programmer keeps the website functioning in the background with a mastery of coding.

Overall, coding is essential in all of these career paths. There is a lot of overlap and it is hard to differentiate from one career to another, but this is a beginning to understanding.

And there you have it, the three most confusing jobs in web design, simplified. 

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