The difference between a webmaster and web designer can be somewhat subtle, depending on the various duties required for a particular website. In general, however, a webmaster is usually someone who is responsible for overseeing the daily activities and functions of a site and supervising ongoing maintenance and operations. A web designer, on the other hand, is typically someone who actually creates the various visuals and other elements used on a webpage and them assembles them together to create a site. There are some instances in which someone can be both a webmaster and web designer, though they can also be mutually exclusive careers.
One of the major distinctions between a webmaster and a web designer is the difference between artistry and technical upkeep. A webmaster is usually someone who ensures that the technical aspects of a website are met and overseen. If a particular browser program has compatibility issues with a website, for example, the webmaster or administrator for that site is usually contacted and undertakes efforts to fix these issues. Regular maintenance for a site is usually performed or overseen by a webmaster and errors or other issues that may arise over time are often dealt with by him or her.
While both a webmaster and web designer are responsible for working on an Internet site, the designer is usually involved with the creative side of a site. A client, for example, might approach a web designer with a general idea for a site, and then work with that developer to choose different possible fonts, colors, and basic layouts to be used. The web designer or developer then creates a webpage for that client, through a combination of graphic arts and programming. Some very large websites, such as pages for major online retailers, can be created by a team of designers working under one or more web producers.
There can be instances, however, in which the work of a webmaster and web designer can overlap, especially for smaller sites. Since the designer has personal and extensive knowledge of how a site is created, he or she can continue to provide webmaster services for a client. Much of this depends on the preferences of a designer, however, and the types of work that he or she prefers to do. Both a webmaster and web designer can also work together when a page needs to be updated or when a client wants a new site based on older designs. A webmaster can provide a new designer with information about various strengths or weaknesses an older page had, which the designer can use to create a new and superior site.