The Differences Between Web Developers, Designers, & Digital Marketers

designers developers marketers

This post has been updated on August 23, 2023

If you’re building a web project, you need to know who to call to get different tasks done, and what to expect. Digital marketing and web designing are two different things. 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 or a designer to plan your database or a marketer to build your project. You are likely to need all these different people though, so here’s how they think, what they do, and how to effectively use them!

Digital Marketing vs Web Development and Web Designing

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 will focus on 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

  • Strategy & Planning
    • Strategist – conducts website audits and market research, including competitor analysis, to make recommendations regarding website content, user experience, functionality, and distribution channels
    • Information Architect – structures and organizes the content and user journeys of a website 
  • Project Management
    • Project Manager – oversees the planning and execution of a web development project, ensuring it achieves its objectives on time and within budget
    • Account Manager – manages relationships with the end clients, ensuring their business objectives are met and fostering long-term collaboration
  • Design
    • Graphic Designer – designs the visual elements (e.g., layouts, images, fonts, colors) of a website
    • UX Designer – responsible for the user experience, or interaction between user and website, with the goal of creating intuitive, efficient, and pleasant experiences
    • Art Director or Creative Director – guides the creative aspects of a website, ensuring the design aligns with the brand’s vision and objectives
  • Development (Programming)
    • Lead Developer – the person in charge of the other developers
    • Front-End Developer – builds the user interface and skilled in HTML/CSS and JavaScript
    • Back-End Developer (tons of different specialties here) – responsible for data storage, processing and retrieval, and other server-side processes
  • Testing
    • QA – Quality Assurance – tests the website look, feel, and functionality across differing browsers and screen sizes
  • Digital Marketing / Marketing
    • Digital Marketer – some cover most of the items below, but others are specialized
    • Social Media Marketer – promotes the web offering and engages with the target audience on social platforms through content and paid campaigns
    • Content Developer – SEO-trained writer
    • Search Engine Marketing Specialist / PPC Manager – manage paid ad campaigns on search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo!)
    • SEO Specialist – optimizes webpages to rank highly in organic search engine results 
    • Email Marketer – plans, implements, and tests email campaigns designed to engage subscribers and drive them to the web offering

There are different names for some of these roles, and we skipped over a ton of sub-specialties for developers, but this list covers the major distinctions.

But let’s focus on designers, developers, and digital marketers.

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

One of the most important things to note is that almost no one is truly good at all of these different skill sets. 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 both golf and skiing; you just have to pick one thing and put all your energy into it. It’s the same fact of life here. Let’s get more in depth on how people in each of these three roles tend to think and work:

WEB DESIGNERS

  • Creative
  • Think about the impact of different device screen sizes on design
  • Spatially aware – for example, margins that are too close 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 terms of how easy a system is to use and how beautiful it is.
  • Work with tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Figma, and Sketch.

WEB DEVELOPERS

  • Inquisitive
  • Logic-focused
  • Solution and 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 terms of how well-built systems are and what features they have.
  • Works with tools and languages such as: Sublime Text editor, Git, Jenkins, PHP, Laravel, Symfony, Java, ASP, HTML/CSS, jQuery, Angular, Vue.js, and React.js. There are tons and tons of other developer-specific tools, and we just listed a few that we work with regularly.

DIGITAL MARKETERS

  • 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
  • Checks conversion rates all the time.
  • Talks about success in terms of how many, of what product, was sold.
  • Works with tools such as Ahrefs, Buffer, Crowdfire, Sumo, Mailchimp, Google Analytics, Hotjar or Lucky Orange, BuzzStream, 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 or website, 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 (and them) up for failure. Understanding the distinct roles of developers, designers, and digital marketers ensures that your project is handled by specialists, each bringing their unique expertise to the table.

FAQs

What’s the difference between digital marketing and web development?
Digital marketing focuses on promoting products or services online, utilizing tools and strategies to increase brand visibility and drive sales. Web development, on the other hand, involves creating and maintaining websites or web applications, ensuring they function seamlessly for users.
How do web development and digital marketing complement each other?
Web development provides the platform or site where digital marketing strategies are implemented or to which they refer. A well-functioning website, developed with user experience in mind, enhances the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns.
How does digital marketing differ from web designing?
While both aim for a user-friendly experience, digital marketing targets brand visibility, audience engagement, and conversions, using tools like SEO, PPC, and email campaigns. Web designing emphasizes the visual and interactive elements of a website, ensuring it’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Jason Long‍
Owner, Founder

As owner and founder of JHMG, Jason has worn many hats over the years. Looking back even to his high-school years, Jason has always been a passionate entrepreneur at heart and a strong leader. Jason’s background in UX design, his history of starting new businesses from the ground up, and his unwavering dedication to excellence in every project he is a part of have earned him a reputation for high-quality work in all that he does. ‍

In his free time Jason enjoys traveling, swing dancing, crossfit, and hiking. ‍

Further Reading