UX Design vs Web Design: A Helpful Guide for Beginners

Rachel Meltzer

Written By Rachel Meltzer

Last updated on December 15, 2021

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If you’re a creative problem-solver, then a career in design may be for you! But how do you choose between a career in web design versus a career in user experience (UX) design? Since these two career paths are both user-focused, they have many similarities, but we’re breaking down the nuanced differences between web designers and UX designers to help you find the better fit for you! Find out how these two careers differ, what the daily life of web designers and UX designers look like, and the salaries to expect in these career paths. Plus, our favorite online tutorials and bootcamps to become a Web Designer or a UX Designer!

What is UX Design?

User experience (UX) design considers any interaction a user has with a product or service and optimizes it. UX design thinks about how an experience makes the user feel, how an interface looks, and how easy it is for the user to accomplish desired tasks. 

UX design can be applied to physical products, real-world experiences, mobile applications, websites, and more. The goal of UX design is to create efficient, relevant, and pleasant experiences for users.

The UX Design Job Guide

UX designers use market research, product development, strategy, and design to build the best experiences for products, services, and processes. They help companies understand and fulfill their customer’s needs and desires. 

A UX Designer might:

  • Conduct user research
  • Create user personas
  • Determine the information architecture of a digital product
  • Design user flows and wireframes
  • Create prototypes
  • Test products on real users

The UX Designer’s Toolbox

The UX design tools and programming languages you might use will depend on the company you work for and the project you’re working on. Each tool has applications it’s best suited for and each company prefers specific tools. While a UX designer doesn’t need to know how to code, it can help a UX designer to have an understanding of the programming languages developers may be using for a project. 

A UX Designer might use any of these tools:

  • Wireframing & Prototyping
    • Balsamiq
    • Adobe XD
    • Figma
    • Sketch
    • InVision
    • Axure
    • WebFlow
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript (jQuery, Bootstrap, Angular)

Typical UX Designer Salary

Over the past decade, UX has been gaining steam in nearly every industry. A website with good UX design can increase a website’s conversion rate up to 200%. On top of that, 80% of consumers are willing to pay extra for a better user experience. The demand for UX Designers has never been higher.

In the US, a UX Designer salary is about $105,000 per year on average. On the low end, they might start out at $77,000. At the higher end of the spectrum, UX Designers can make up to $143,000. A UI Designer salary, for comparison, is about $93,000 on average in the US.

What is Web Design?

Web design refers to the creation of the front end (a.k.a. client side) design of a website. Most web designers are tasked with user experience and visual aspects of a website rather than software development. 

Dynamic and responsive design principles are more important than ever and modern web designers are creating websites for more than just desktop web browsers. Tablets and smartphones are dominating the internet and web designers have to keep all of these devices in mind for their designs. 

The Web Design Job Guide

Web design encompasses a wide variety of creative, technical, and process-related responsibilities. What a web designer is actually responsible for on a day-to-day basis depends on what their client, employer, or project requires. Some web designers only create mock-ups, prototypes, website graphics, and visual designs. Others may have a hand in coding, front end development, user interfaces, and sometimes user research or testing.  

Web Designers may be responsible for:

  • Graphic design
  • User interface (UI) design
  • Front end coding
  • User experience (UX) design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

The Web Designer’s Toolbox

Web designers use a variety of tools for designing and coding the front end of a website. We’ve listed just a few of the tools and coding languages commonly used by Web Designers.

Web Designers may use:

  • Design Tools
    • InVision
    • Sketch
    • Figma
    • Adobe Photoshop, XD, and Illustrator
  • Coding Languages
    • HTML
    • CSS 
    • JavaScript
    • JavaScript frameworks 

Typical Web Designer Salary

Web design is an important aspect of any business. Up to 80% of potential customers might be lost if a business does not have a website and 94% of a website’s first impressions are attributed to design. With over 1.7 billion websites in the world, web designers are needed in every industry.

On average in th United States, Web Designers earn $58,453 per year. On the higher end of the spectrum, Web Designers can make up to $88,000 per year. While on the lower end of the spectrum, Web Designers might make $40,000 a year. 

UX Design vs Web Design: Similarities + Differences

Web design and UX design have quite a few similarities. Both of these roles focus on solving problems. Web designers aim to solve the problems of their clients, and UX designers set out to solve problems for their users. At some companies, these roles will be combined. If you choose to work for yourself as a freelancer, you can specialize within these roles or be a generalist and take on any or all of these responsibilities. Overall, the nuanced differences between these two roles distinguish the generalists from the specialists. 

Web designers and UX designers both need to consider the user’s journey. Depending on the project, client, or employer, each of these roles might be responsible for user research, user interviews, user testing, user interface design, and user experience design. 

Emotion also plays a big part in any type of design. UX designers and web designers both consider how their visual designs will impact the emotions of their users. Certain fonts, colors, and layouts may elicit desired feelings within users. UX designers are usually more concerned with this aspect of their work than web designers are. 

Web design and UX design can both be considered multidisciplinary fields. On top of visual design, user research, and testing, web designers are often tasked with coding their designs in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. UX designers have to be concerned with visual design, user psychology, and even business, but a UX designer doesn’t have to know how to code.  

Web design and UX design do have some differences, though. Web design is platform dependent while UX design is not. UX design transcends web browsers, mobile apps, and desktop software. It can be applied to almost anything from hardware to retail experiences. Web design is only applied to websites being used on desktops and mobile devices.

Web design is more focused on technology. It’s concerned with the latest versions of coding languages and web browsers, keeping up with the specs required for modern dynamic and responsive designs, as well as the latest browser requirements. On the other hand, UX Design stays focused on the users. There is often a lot of technology involved, however, they ultimately focus on meeting the users’ requirements rather than the demands of a web browser. 

A Day in the Life of a Web Designer

A day in the life of a web designer varies drastically depending on your employer. Most web designers can choose from remote and onsite opportunities. Jobs in this role can be found nearly anywhere in the world. A full-time web designer might find themselves working on all aspects of web design and user experience or specializing in only one piece of designing a website or user interface. At small businesses and startups, web designers generally take on all web design and sometimes marketing, SEO, and other design responsibilities. As a freelancer, a web designer can choose to specialize in one responsibility, type of website platform, or type of web page. 

Web Designers could be responsible for working on tasks like: 

  • Adapting templates to a specific business’ brand
  • Designing the front end of a website in Adobe Creative Suite
  • Coding the front end of a website in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Performing user research and optimizing user experience
  • Conducting market research to establish goals for the website and its pages
  • Creating visual brand elements and graphics for the website
  • Creating written content for the website
  • Building templates to streamline their work

A Day in the Life of a UX Designer

A day in the life of a UX designer will depend on the employer they’re working for and the size of the team they’re working on. Overall, UX designers are primarily responsible for the journey the user takes, rather than the visual aspects of the product. UX designers working at startups or small businesses may find themselves responsible for other tasks, such as marketing or business. Other UX designers might focus on only research or design. 

UX Designers might be responsible for any these tasks:

  • Conducting user research with a group or individual
  • Conducting market research
  • Creating user personas
  • Testing prototypes and user experiences
  • Determining information architecture
  • Designing wireframes and user flows
  • Building prototypes

How to Learn UX Design + Web Design

You can dip your toes into web or UX design with free and affordable tutorials. This is a great way to get a hands-on understanding for whether one of these career paths might be right for you. 

Online UX Design Tutorials

Online Web Design Tutorials

Ready to dive into a new career? A bootcamp could be the answer for you! These are some UX Design bootcamps and Web Design bootcamps we recommend:

Web Design Bootcamps

UX Design Bootcamps

About The Author

Rachel Meltzer

Rachel Meltzer

Rachel Meltzer is the founder of MeltzerSeltzer, where she is the lead writer, podcast host, and freelance writing coach. She attended a front-end web development bootcamp in 2020.

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