The Difference Between Designers and Developers

Mae Capozzi
2 min readMar 30, 2022

As a non-technical founder, it can be difficult to make your first technical hire, whether it’s for a full-time employee or a contractor.

If you hire a designer who can’t build web experiences, you may end up with beautiful designs and no website.

If you hire a developer who can’t design, you might be left with a website that is difficult or impossible to use, has low conversion rates, and just looks ugly.

What is a designer’s role?

A designer is someone who defines exactly what your website should look like and how it should behave. There are many different types of designers, but as a non-technical founder, you should try to hire a generalist UX designer.

A designer is like an architect — they create the most ideal version of how a website could behave.

A designer will usually hand off mocks. These are non-functional files that represent exactly how a website should look and behave. They may also deliver a prototype and assets like images, logos, and fonts.

What is a developer’s role?

A developer’s job is to take the designer’s mocks, and implement them on the web. They should be the expert on how the web works, and will make suggestions for how to implement the designer’s vision in a less expensive or more practical way.

A developer is like a contractor — they take the designer’s vision and apply it to the real world. A developer will hand off a functional website that matches the mocks reasonably closely.

What should you do?

The best approach you can take is to fill your most pressing need. If you’re a founder with a background in design, hire a developer.

If you struggle with design but feel confident that you can figure out Squarespace, hire a designer.

If you’d rather not do either, you have a few options. You can hire a design contractor and a full-time developer. Or you can hire an agency that does both design and development work.

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