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Web designers, web developers, and web engineers: while they may all seem like similar roles, they’re actually vastly different. Depending on an individual’s propensity towards design, programming, or architecture, a different role may be more applicable to them. Understanding the difference between these fields is necessary, as lateral movements between them are rare.

What Is a Web Designer?

A web designer is an individual who focuses on the appearance and usability of a web application. They are intended to format the visual appeal of the website and to design a website that is clean and intuitive to use. Web designers generally have artistic or creative backgrounds and they frequently work in illustration or design suites. They may have little to no knowledge of the actual functionality of the website; instead, they may provide template files to the developers and the engineers. Web designers may work in HTML, HTML5, CSS, or even JavaScript, but they generally won’t know a great deal of programming.

What Is a Web Engineer?

A web engineer is an individual who focuses on the functionality of the site. They take the web designer’s template and they make it work; where a web designer will make a form that a user can put their information into, the web engineer will ensure that the form’s data is appropriately sanitized and that it is properly put into the database. Web engineers work to construct applications from the ground up and tie them into the media that is provided by the web designer. Web engineers generally have extensive experience within their industry. Many of them are able to design websites but generally choose not to.

What Is a Web Developer?

Many individuals use ‘web engineer’ and ‘web developer’ interchangeably, but the terms have very different connotations. Web engineers are all web developers, but not all web developers are web engineers. A web engineer is a web developer who has more experience within the field. They generally have a degree and multiple certifications, and they usually have over five years of experience. Anyone who can program a web application can call themselves a web developer, but a web engineer is a person of both education and experience. Understandably, this can appear as a gray area to some. Web engineers are expected to be able to design and program extremely complex web applications.

It should be noted that with the rise of full stack development, many web designers are also web developers or web engineers. In fact, many businesses are looking towards talented individuals who can take a design and work under the hood. This has occurred as design has become inextricably linked to the programming and the user experience of a web application. But there are still individuals who are sought for their specific roles. Whether you’re looking for a position as a web designer, a web developer, or somewhere between the two, you can look at the latest curated job listings on Software Specialists.