A web designer works primarily out of design programs like the adobe suite and a host of other products. They focus on creating eye popping designs for web sites, applications, and focus on all things creative. They play a key role in how the user interface is setup; so it is important that they do it in a way that is intuitive. Web designers and web developers work closely together as they are both needed to create the end product. The designer typically will spend time interacting with clients to communicate designs and figure out the needs of the client. If the designer works for a company instead of client-side work, then they will usually present designs to their boss for approval instead of a client before development starts.
The web developer is responsible for bringing the design to life. It is important for these two to work together, because they need to communicate what is possible and what is not. It is also worth noting that many things are possible within the world of web development. But sometimes, they may make things more complicated than need be; or they will end up costing the client more money to create depending on what is being required. The web developer does need to respect the creative design of the web designer. They need to get it as close as they possibly can to the design. Typically the web developer will work in and out of design software to make it pixel perfect and match up their work to the designer’s.
This question is very subjective to each individual person. A web developer is best suited for someone who likes to create but maybe not have as much of a say in the design process. They focus on logical thinking and problem solving. They need to be patient as fixing bugs and problems within a website takes time. Web Development requires consistency and patience; especially during the learning process. If you give up easily when running into a problem this may not be the career for you.
A web designer is no walk in the park either. Web Designers deal with deadlines and creative processes, which usually do not go hand in hand. So on a day to day basis one must dive into their creative side and create eye popping designs. They must have a good knowledge set of how to use various creative programs, communicate with clients or higher authorities, and work with the end product in mind.
Personally I think this should not be the defining factor in which you choose what path to take, but rather a guideline of what to expect. This drastically depends on your location and experience so your mileage may vary. From a web developer standpoint you could start at 110k in San Fransisco or 50k in a smaller city in the US. I highly recommend doing market research through Glassdoor to figure out what to expect from companies in your area.
Starting out web designers will typically make less money than a web developer. The national average is 57k. I personally think this is just a basic supply and demand. There are just simply more entry level graphic designers who may take the plunge into web design while looking for work than entry level web developers. They are both within a growing industry that gives a lot of opportunity for both. It is worth noting that the web designer’s pay will start to catch up with the web developer’s once they both get into more senior roles. The web designer’s pay increases when they start getting into UI/UX design.
The web developer and web designer are both two very important roles within the web development field. While they work hand in hand one is more code based and the other is more software based. A web designer does not need to know any code, but it is useful and sometimes preferred; while the web developer solely focuses on code. Both potentially could have client based interactions, but it is more likely the web designer starting out will run into this as the client will be the one to approve the design. If working for a company as opposed to client-side work than usually you will just report to your higher authority. Both provide fulfilling careers.
If you are unsure which of them you would like to pursue I highly recommend that you spend a little time learning in both fields to get a feel of what you enjoy. If you want to spend time creating, making beautiful designs, color matching, and bringing out your creative side; then a web designer might be a better fit for you. If you would prefer to create and build while engaging your mind on a day to day basis, solving problems and getting stuck constantly, and being self sufficient to an extent trying to solve and come up with solutions; then a web developer could be a better path you.