The Architect and the Builder: Web Designers vs Web Developers

When researching a new career, it’s important to know the duties of the role you’re looking into. Companies occasionally use the job titles “Web Developer” and “Web Designer” interchangeably when seeking out their services. Although the two do work symbiotically, their functions are very different.

As an analogy, let’s compare the two to the roles of an architect and a builder in the process of constructing a building. The web designer, in this case, is the architect, and the web developer is the builder.

The Architect
A web designer is responsible for defining the problem a particular web project will solve and then providing a functional solution for further testing. They are tasked with determining the best way to solve a problem and then using their research to craft a solution that is both visually appealing and functional. The designer’s objective is to test the accuracy of the guidance given by a client against the scrutiny of potential customers. Like designers in any other field, web designers must have a proper balance between what the user needs, what the clients want and what the industry calls for.

Web designers are expected to be familiar with the entire design process such as user experience (UX), research skills (administering user surveys, doing data analysis, creating user personas), crafting user flows and wireframing. They are also responsible for knowing basic design concepts (contrast, consistency, balance, etc.), content management systems, the Adobe Creative Suite software (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), and fundamental programming languages (HTML and CSS).

A career as a web designer is one of the most highly sought after in the job market. According to ThoughtCo, the web designer job market is expected to grow 20% between 2012 and 2022 (faster than the average for all other occupations). Where there is a business, there is a digital product to be created. A career as a web designer will continue to be one of the leading professions in the future because it values both creativity and technical ability.

Wonder what the payout is for this exciting career? According to Salary.com’s study last month, the median pay for a full-time web designer in the United States is $72,140.

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The Builder
If the web designer is the architect, the web developer is the builder. The web developer takes the design and wireframe and brings it all to life. Using several complex languages, the web developer, or programmer, takes a plan for how the site should look and behave (often called a “mock-up”) and creates the infrastructure that allows the user to interact with the site. A carpenter or builder needs knowledge of how to organize raw materials in a way that keeps the building structurally sound. Similarly, the web developer must understand how different languages, systems, and interfaces work together to provide the user with a predictable, reliable application.

As the builder, the web developer is typically allotted more time to get their job done. The job of the web developer is riddled with different instances of problem solving, self-motivation, and trial and error.

The web developer must be fluent in a company’s preferred languages, be constantly working to fulfill the software development lifecycle, proficient in creating and executing test procedures, and a great team player.

Ranked #4 by U.S. News and World Report for Best Careers in Tech, a career in web development is one of the most rapidly growing careers in the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a continued rise of 27% in demand for web developers to 2024. As the e-commerce world is rapidly moving into mobile, companies are increasingly looking for web developers to make sure their websites translate well across devices.

How much will you be making as a junior web developer? According to Glassdoor, the national average is $66,250, peaking at $90,000 in cities such as Boston or San Francisco.

Although the two differ in day-to-day duties, the web developer and web designer work closely together to accomplish one singular goal – to create stellar websites. Both of these careers are equally challenging and thrilling, no matter if you identify as “left or right brained”. Bloc believes in the potential of every individual to learn a new skill and become an expert problem solver. So what are you waiting for? Enroll in Bloc’s Designer or Part-Time Web Developer Track to be a part of two of the top careers in the job market.

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