Web Designer or Web Developer
Way back in 2013, when I first started to get interested in learning to code, I remember being confused about something: was I training to be a web designer or a web developer?
I remember thinking that being a designer sounded GREAT. I’d get to create beautiful things for the Internet, and use up all my creative juices on typography pairings, color schemes, and giving websites that certain je ne sais quois. At the same time, though, I worried I wouldn’t have what it takes to be a web designer. With no history in graphic design, or any design training at all, I wondered who would ever trust me with the aesthetics of their site.
And when I thought about web development? I felt like: “This is what I should want to do. I’ll make a ton of money and have all the power in the world to build awesome websites and web apps. But what if it’s boring?”
But as I learned HTML and CSS, met more designers and developers, and started working on my own freelance websites, I realized that I had it all wrong. It’s not that you don’t have to make a choice between web design and development. Really, the issue is that my idea of the differences between web design and web development were pretty wide of the mark. This is the blog post I wish I could have read when I first dipped my toe in the technical waters.
In this post, you’re going to get:
- A rundown of the biggest myths about web designers and web developers, so you can make an informed decision about which path is right for you,
- A comprehensive infographic breaking down EXACTLY what skills and tools web designers and developers use,
- A breakdown of the basic skills ALL techies need,
- A framework for figuring out which path fits your personality best,
But before I dive in, I want to let the cat out of the bag. The truth is, it doesn’t matter one iota whether you choose to start out in web design or web development! Getting digital skills will position you to make more money and have some of the most in-demand skills out there, regardless of whether they fall into the category of web design or web development.
This guide is based on general personality characteristics and a synopses of day-to-day tasks. If some of it seems oversimplified, that’s because I want to make it super simple for you to make a decision. In reality? There is a TON of overlap between web designers and web developers, and there’s no right or wrong starting point!
Step 1: Dispel the Myths
Before you can make any decisions about what kind of tech career you want, you need to make sure you know exactly what web designers and developers do.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably been socialized to define “web designer” and “web developer” in ways that don’t represent what it’s actually like to be one, and you’ve never even talked to a real-life web designer or developer.