Graphic Designer vs. Web Designer: Which One Do I Need?

If you need some work done on your website, or need to update your marketing materials, it can be confusing knowing who to contact.

Should you contact a graphic designer for the job or a web designer?

Despite the similarities in job title, graphic designers and web designers actually have drastically different roles!

Both types of designers are very important for your online presence, but you’ll need to know which one to contact to perform the specific task you need.

Keep reading to learn the differences between a graphic designer and a web designer.

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

What don’t graphic designers do? In most cases, graphic designers do not code websites. Standards on the web are constantly changing as new technologies and online features are introduced.

Creating a website today is dramatically more complex than creating a website fifteen or twenty years ago.

Instead of being a Jack of all trades, most graphic designers choose to specialize in the creation of graphics and images.

What Does a Web Designer Do?

Graphic designers are experts at all things visual. They use tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to craft images for the web or for print.

They can also create the design for a website or app, but may require the skills of a web designer or another kind of developer to make it come to life.

Web designers are the architects who work behind the scenes to make websites function. They code websites in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

They also are masters of usability, able to make a website just as legible and load just as quickly for a smartphone visitor as someone on their desktop computer.

What don’t web designers do? While some web designers can also design graphics, and most can create a layout or a wireframe for a website, generally they rely on graphic designers to create the visuals.

Most web designers also do not program web or smartphone apps; this work is done by a web developer or app developer.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

If web designers are the architects of the web, web developers are the engineers. They go much deeper into the programming languages that make websites interactive, such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python.

They can make websites able to do things and offer services that other websites do not, building specialized tools and web apps based on your needs. To provide a more streamlined experience, a web developer usually also offers website hosting. This is especially useful if you require WordPress hosting as a web developer can also handle the constant plugin and theme updates for you as well.

What don’t web developers do? Typically web developers have very little or nothing at all to do with the front end, or the visual side of a website.

They may make a rough wireframe that a web designer adds styles over top of using a language like CSS.

Do I Need a Graphic Designer or a Web Designer – or Both?

What kind of designer you need depends on the project. In some cases, you can get the job done entirely with the help of just a graphic designer or a web designer.

In other cases, you will need both types of designers bringing their skills together to make your project come to life.

Below are some common projects you might need help with, and which type of designer can best do the work:

I need a logo. If you need a logo, even if it’s one you intend to use both for print and on your website, you will need a graphic designer.

I need to speed up my website. There are many moving pieces that go into speeding up a website, but a web designer (or even a web developer) is the one to call.

I need images for social media. You need a graphic designer! They can create all the images you need, in just the right sizes for each social network.

I need a new website. This is one where you will usually need a team. The graphic designer will create a mockup, which shows what your final website will look like. Then, once it looks just right, a web designer will slice it up and turn it into a functioning website.

I need a business card. This is something a graphic designer can help you with.

I need to make my existing website mobile-friendly. Generally, a web designer will be able to take care of this for you.

I need a newsletter template. A graphic designer can create the images for your email newsletter, but you may need a web designer to lay them out or code the template depending on your newsletter service provider.

In a nutshell, graphic designers do all things visual, while web designers are more about making things function on the web.

Hopefully this quick guide helped you learn whether you need a graphic designer or web designer!