Front-end Development vs Graphic Design: Know Whom to Hire For Your Website

Hiring a team for your web development needs? 

Confused between the various job titles and what they mean?

Not sure if you need a front-end developer, a graphic designer, or both?

You’ve landed on the right page. 

To help you avoid getting bogus CVs and resumes for the job and an absolutely miserable experience post-hiring, here’s a detailed guide about the difference between front-end development and graphic design.

The guide will cover:

  1. What is graphic design?
  2. What is front-end development?
  3. The key technical differences between front-end development and graphic design
  4. The difference between hiring front-end developers and graphic designers
  5. The 1 question that will help you decide between front-end developers and graphic designers
  6. The quick guide to hiring front-end developers
  7. The quick guide to hiring graphic designers

Let’s dive in.

What is graphic design?

Here’s how Wikipedia defines graphic design 

Graphic Design

In simpler terms, ‘graphic design’ includes creating a design (mockup) for your website’s final look and feel. 

What is front-end development?

Here’s how Wikipedia defines front-end development,

Frond-end Development

In essence, front-end development is the process of coding the design of your website to create visual and graphical experiences for your end-users. 

Now, at a quick glance, both front-end development and graphic design seem similar. They both have something to do with how your website looks and feels. But the two are different. Let’s explore the difference below. 

Front-end development vs. Graphic design – The key differences

The key difference between front-end developers and graphic designers is the ability to code. 

A front-end developer knows how to code. They are especially adept at using HTML, CSS, and Javascript among other programming languages and tools. 

A graphic designer on the other hand wouldn’t know how to write code. They’d be experts at using photo editing tools and software like Photoshop, for example.

A graphic designer will also have a deep understanding of colour psychology and design elements. A front-end developer might not know that very well. But they’d be experts at coding elements that the end-user will engage with on your website. 

So while graphic designers are more artistically inclined, front-end developers are more technical.

Front-end developer vs. Graphic designer – The hiring difference

Front-end developers and graphic designers aren’t just different in terms of their skills and scope of work. 

They are also different from a hiring perspective. 

The cost of hiring

According to Glassdoor, the average cost of hiring a front-end developer is $86,013 per annum. The highest-paid front-end developers may charge anywhere around $145,000. 

For graphic designers, the average is close to $56,000 per annum.

Freelance graphic designers can charge between $20 to $300 per hour, based on expertise and experience level.

Now, all these rates are subjective. They depend on 

  • The location from where you are hiring
  • The years of experience the candidate brings
  • The kind of expertise they possess
  • The type of hiring arrangement (freelance, contractual, full-time, etc.)

So of course, if you hire a graphic designer in India and a front-end developer in the US, the annual package will differ drastically. But when other factors remain constant, a front-end developer will definitely cost you a tad bit more than a graphic designer.

Post-project utility 

Unless you are hiring freelancers, after your website is developed, you’d have two options:

  1. Fire your front-end developer or designer. 
  2. Engage them in other tasks

Now, these “other tasks” that a front-end developer and a graphic designer can do are different.

A front-end developer can help you design the front end of a web app or mobile app, for example. 

A graphic designer, on the other hand, can help you create visual assets for your website, social media, and even print media. 

Deciding between front-end developers and graphic designers

You’d be as lucky as Aladdin if you can find a graphic designer who can build website front-ends and vice versa. 

The two jobs are different. And need two different people who are experts in their respective fields. 

So ideally, you shouldn’t even be asking the question “front-end developers vs. graphic designers” in the first place.

But if you absolutely cannot hire both and need to pick one, here is a quick question to help you decide.

What skills do you need more – designing or coding?

Are you creatively inclined? 

Do you feel that you’ll be able to visualise how you want your website to look?

Will you be able to decide on the colour scheme and other visual aspects of your site on your own?

If yes, you can skip hiring a graphic designer and go for a front-end developer. 

Do you know basic HTML coding? 

Or is there someone in your team who can do that?

Are you going to use a website builder which offers an easy drag-and-drop interface for front-end development?

If yes, you can go for a graphic designer and skip hiring a front-end developer

Now, no matter who you’ve decided to hire, for the decision to be worth it, you’d have to hire the perfect candidate. 

What follows are step-by-step guides to hiring front-end developers and graphic designers. 

Hiring a front-end developer for your website

If you’ve chosen to go with a front-end developer, here are the next steps that you should take.

Step 1 – Pick the front-end technology you’d be using

While HTML and CSS are the most-used front-end technologies, there are many others that you can choose from.

There is JavaScript, for example, and its many frameworks like Node.js, React.js, etc. 

Make sure you take expert consultation and discuss the pros and cons of each technology before finalising any one. 

Step 2 – Decide between individual front-end developers and front-end development companies

You can either hire individual front-end developers or directly work with a front-end development company

The benefit of hiring a front-end development company is that they can also take care of the back-end development, database management, QA testing, and project deployment. 

They, of course, also cost more. 

In-house front-end developers are cheaper to hire and give you more control over the development process. 

Step 3 – Find the right partner 

Once you have decided whether to go for an individual or a company, you should look for the following skills/traits – 

  • Expertise in the technology of your choice
  • Years of experience
  • Project portfolio
  • Basic business understanding
  • Cultural match with your organisation
  • Client testimonials/reviews/references

Step 4 – Get your front-end development started 

Upon finding the right front-end development partner, all that is left to be done is signing the papers. Once that is out of the way, you can start your website’s front-end development process. 

Hiring a graphic designer for your website

If you decided to hire a graphic designer for your website needs, here is a quick guide to follow.

Step 1 – Decide between full-time and freelance graphic designers

Hiring a full-time graphic designer can be a long-term cost burden. Once your website is designed, you’d have to search for other ways to keep the designer engaged. 

Freelancers, on the other hand, pose a different set of issues. It is hard to hold them accountable or around for long. 

A dedicated graphic designer, however, is an ideal mix of both. You don’t have to bother with the strenuous hiring process. And you only pay for the months when you keep the graphic designer onboard. 

No need to do paperwork or pay for employee overheads and you get access to a global talent pool too. It is a definite win-win,

Step 2 – Get the paperwork sorted

Whether you hire a freelancer, full-time designer or a dedicated graphic designer, make sure you sign NDAs so that your design ideas stay yours. 

Step 3 – Get your project off the ground

After getting the legal formalities sorted, it is time to let the creativity and design thinking unleash.  

Need more help in choosing between front-end developers and graphic designers? Write to us with your questions or comment down below. 


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