Web designer or Front End Developer? Key Differences

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If you are in the non-technical field or probably in the human resources department of a company, you might have posted vacancies for web designers and then after employment, you realized they couldn’t perform the roles you expected.

In reality, what you need is a front end developer. Both terms have been used interchangeably. As a business owner, you need to know the key differences between the two terms. Let’s see if we can provide some clarity.

Web designer

A good web designer is usually gifted with visual imagination. Such person make use of graphic design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, Corel draw and so on to perform a design. This design is focused on visual presentation to attract clients and glue them to the artistry of the web page. A designer balances the colors (heavy and light) and contrast with other components of the site.

A designer is not interested in writing programs for a site. They think like the user but with focus on visual representation. Basically, they provide the appropriate background colors and images that suits the project.

Web Designer Tools


Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop is a professional imaging and design software used for editing graphics. It is available for both Windows and macOS. The software include tools such as clone stamp tool, pen tool, selection tools and so on.


Illustrator or Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor software used by several designers and artists to design images, graphics and logos for website, mobile and so on. It was originally designed for the Apple Macintosh.


InDesign or Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing and page design software for creating works such as posters flyers and so on.

Front End Developer

The roles of a front end developer might seem similar to that of a web designer but not the same.

A front end developer builds the web site from scratch using primary web programming languages such as HTML/HTML5, CSS/CCS3, JavaScript and JQuery to bring life to the files made by the web designer and also make the website interactive. His/her core strength is in coding. They make use of terms such as navigation, drop-down menu, border-radius, float, font-family, footers and many more. They give appropriate height to fonts, height and width to images, adjustment of position of objects and so on.

A good front end developer makes sure the website is shown correctly on most browsers irrespective of the kind of device used. They make the website mobile responsive and ensure that the user can easily navigate around the website. Ordinarily, this can’t be done by a web designer.

The two terms are similar. Both the web designer and front-end developer are concerned with visual presentation of the website. However, they take different approaches to perform their functions: one using graphic design software and the other through programming languages.

Front End Development Languages


HTML is the abbreviation for Hyper Text Markup Language. The language is a combination of Hypertext and Markup. It is used for designing web pages with the aid of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). HTML5 is the last version of HTML. Common HTML terms include: <body> </body>, <h1> </h1>, <h2> </h2>, <div> </div> and so on.


CSS is the abbreviation of Cascading Style Sheets. It is used as a mechanism for adding style and layout to web pages. It makes the web page relevant by adding font size, color, animations and so on. CSS3 is the last version of CSS.


JavaScript is a popular languages among programmers. It is used to make web pages interactive for users.

It’s is fine that you a good web designer and know nothing about front end development or vice versa. You just have to be specific during the negotiation process with the client or consult a front end developer or web designer on freelance websites. Examples of freelance websites where they can be found are Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork and Facebook groups

Final Words

To create a perfect website, it is crucial for the web designer to partner with the front end developer in order to provide a reliable and attractive website though there are very few that can perform both functions.

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Joined on Feb. 11, 2021

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