KBase > Web Development > What's the difference between a Web Developer, Designer and Master

Web/Graphic Designer vs. Web Developer.

A common question asked by those first learning about the field is “What is the difference between a web designer, graphic designer, and web developer?” A web designer, as the name implies, “designs” a web site. This person typically is strong in visual and graphical skills with a creative and artistic background. Good graphic design and photo editing skills are typically the foundation to web design. A web designer is responsible for the overall look-and-feel of a web site, the choice of colors, graphics, font type, and layout of the web site.

A web developer typically has a stronger background in programming and, thus, is usually the one responsible for developing (building) dynamic web sites that interact with a database or other data source such as XML. In terms of college certificates and degrees, the curriculum of an Art, Media, or Visual Communication department is likely the best preparation for a career in Web Design, whereas a career in Web Development is likely best found in a Computer Information Systems or Computer Science department.

Figure 1: Skills of a Web Designer versus a Web Developer (click to enlarge)

Web Designer versus Web Developer

What is a Webmaster?

Webmaster is an elusive job title that has both evolved and been described in several different ways. Like many job types, some of the variance in this position’s job responsibilities sometimes lies in whether one works in a large or a small organization. In large organizations, there are typically more IT employees, and jobs can become more specialized than in a small organization where someone may be required to perform more than one job type. Another reason for why webmaster job responsibilities sometimes vary is that different companies define them differently.

The fact is no perfect definition of a webmaster exists. Many companies include the responsibilities of a web designer and web developer within the scope of a webmaster. The following, however, are possible responsibilities for a webmaster that do not typically fall within the scope of a web designer or developer.

  • Respond to incoming e-mails to info@!1site.com, webmaster@!1site.com, feedback@!1site.com, or whatever catch-all e-mail address is being used.
  • Check for broken links and orphan pages (i.e. pages with links to them).
  • Monitor the error logs and report potential problems.
  • Monitor and tune web site performance and web server software (may include load balancing).
  • Monitor web site traffic (and produce reports) for marketing purposes (i.e. most visited pages, least visited pages, length of stay on web site, etc.).
  • Backup web site.
  • Maintain mirror of web site.
  • Manage web site search engine submissions and ranking.
  • Configure connectivity between the web pages and a database back-end.
  • Install server software necessary for web sites needs, such as content management software and Perl and other compiler/interpreter packages.
  • Maintain an organized file system on web server.
  • Monitor and maintain web site security.