The Differences Between Developers, Designers, & Digital Marketers

If you’re building a web project, you need to know who to call to get what done, and what to expect. You wouldn’t call a carpenter to fix your car or a podiatrist to work on your heart, so don’t call a developer to market your goods a designer to plan your database or a marketer to build your project. You may need all the different people though, and here’s how they think, what they do, and how to effectively use them!

A lot of people get these roles confused. They think that because someone can build a website or application, they must know how to market the system, and that is false. This article goes over the characteristics of digital marketers vs. developers & designers and it helps you understand who to hire for which jobs.

If you’re looking to build a website, web-application, or app, you need to be sure you understand the different parts of your team. In this article, we are just talking about developers, designers, and digital marketers.

Below is a list of all the team members often found on a full-service web-development, web-design, and digital marketing company. A lot of times one person will fill multiple roles, especially in a smaller company.

  • Strategy & Planning
    • Strategist
    • Information Architect
  • Project Management
    • Project Manager
    • Account Manager
  • Design
    • Designer
    • Graphic Designer
    • UX Designer
    • Front-End Developer
    • Art Director or Creative Director
  • Development (Programming)
    • Lead Developer – the person in charge of the other developers
    • Back-End Developer (tons of different specialties here)
  • Testing
    • QA – Quality Assurance
  • Digital Marketing / Marketing
    • Digital Marketer – covers most everything below, but each can be a specialty as well.
    • Social Media Marketer
    • Content Developer (SEO trained writer)
    • SEO Specialist or Search Engine Marketing Specialist
    • Email Marketer
    • PPC Manager

There are different names for roles and I am sure I skipped a ton of sub-specialties for developers, but overall this is most of the roles.

But we’re just talking about designers, developers, and marketers.

There are a ton of different roles in web design and development companies, but this article is about the differences between those three that most people actually think about when they are doing a web project, so let’s talk about those.

Before I get started on this, I have to point out that I started as a designer, then learned to be a developer and project manager. So I may be skewed towards the design side. But I think these are still accurate assessments of these groups.

One of the most important things to remember here is that there is almost no one out there that is truly good at all of these different skill sets. That is because, in order to become really good at one of them, you have to do it for a living day in and day out. You don’t become an Olympic gold medalist in golf and skiing, you just have to pick one thing and put all your energy into it. It’s the same thing here.


  • Creative
  • Think about  the different sizes and views of different devices
  • Spacially aware – margins that are too close bug tend to bug them.
  • User experienced focused – always thinking about ‘the user’
  • Don’t just think about the page, but also how a user got there and what they are doing while they are there.
  • Talks about success in how easy a system is to use and how beautiful it is.
  • Work with tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch.
  • If they are front-end developers, which many are, they may also work well with HTML & CSS.


  • Inquisitive
  • Logic focused
  • Solution & specifications oriented
  • Generally optimists, especially about timelines
  • Think a lot about systems automation and how to get things done fast
  • Are always looking for better ways, systems, platforms to do their job
  • Generally, think that the latest systems out there are pretty cool and want to play around with them.
  • Are good at poking holes in systems that aren’t completely thought out.
  • Are generally sticklers for processes.
  • Talks about success in reference to how well-built systems are and what features they have.
  • Works with tools and languages such as: Sublime Editor, Git, Laravel, Symfony, Jenkins, PHP, jQuery, Java, ASP, front-end developers work with HTML/CSS,  Angular.js, Vue.js, React.js, and tons and tons of other developer specific tools. I just listed a few that we work with regularly at the time of writing.


  • Sales-Focused
  • Often wants to ship the product before the developer thinks it’s completely done.
  • Thinks a lot about how much they can sell something for and adjusts pricing regularly (or wants to).
  • Is addicted to analytics and is always looking for more data
  • Constantly tests messaging, pricing, and other systems to reach out to buyers
  • Looks at conversion rates all the time.
  • Tests, tests, and tests more
  • Talks about success in reference to how many of what thing was sold.
  • Works with tools such as Buffer, Sumo, Quickmail, Google Analytics and other analytics systems, HotJar or LuckyOrange, Crowdfire,, BuzzStream, Google Optimize or Optimizely, and other marketing management systems.

Sales vs. Build

Now that you know the differences between these different people, you realize that if you want something that is easy to use, find a professional designer (also called a UX or User Experience Designer), if you want your system to work well and be scalable find a professional developer, and if you want to be able to sell this thing you’re building, find a good digital marketer.

Pro Tip: If your developer and designer are the craftsmen building your home, the digital marketer is your real estate agent.

How to find the best developer, designer, or digital marketer in Atlanta or elsewhere

A lot of digital agencies have all of these people on their teams, but not all of them do. If you’re searching for the best digital agency or best development team, you need to ask the right questions and understand what to look for.

In addition to these team members, make sure your team has very strong project planning, estimation, and project management. Those aspects can make or break a development project.

What’s the Lesson?

If you’re going to be building a system, use a designer and a developer. If you want to sell it, use a digital marketer or another kind of marketer. These skill sets and thought processes are different and you need them to be different. But don’t expect one person to be another person or you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.