App developers in Singapore and app designers are commonly mixed up. Today, we will be exploring the differences, similarities, and even how both of these app roles work together. We are looking at their job scopes and the different values that they are providing.

What is an app developer?

An app developer is a person who does the programming of the mobile app. He is the one who writes the codes for the app. There are also different types of app developers. There are frontend app developers and backend app developers.

A frontend developer takes a design that has been done by the app designer and converts it into frontend codes. Depending on the technology that is being used. This can be in Ionic, Flutter, Native, or even React Native frameworks. Every different framework has different programming styles and syntax.

A backend developer develops the database design of the app, the admin panel, and creates API (Application Programming Interface) of the backend to be communicated to the app. In other words, backend developers translate backend languages into frontend-readable languages.

The most commonly used API is REST API in JSON. This allows websites, third parties, hardware, and also the mobile app to communicate with the backend of the mobile app.

However, there is also another kind of app developer called the full-stack app developer. This app developer is usually the most valuable and highly paid as he does he is able to do everything from the database design, admin panel, and also the frontend integration of the mobile app.

Full-stack developers are usually in the highest amount of demand as they are able to do everything that is required of an app developer. Although it is more expensive, it might still be cheaper than taking one frontend app developer and one backend developer.

What is an app designer?

An app designer is a person who decides how the app looks like aesthetically. An app designer uses tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Xd, or Sketch. At SleekDigital, we mostly utilise Sketch and Adobe Xd. These allow us to create interactive wireframes and designs where the client is able to demo the app before the programming starts.

More about what an app developer does, an app design process is actually more lengthy than you would expect. Although not all projects require all these elements, we will briefly run through what each task means for an app designer on a project.

App designers (also sometimes called UI/UX Designers), not only have to take into consideration the aesthetic look of the mobile app. First, the app designer has to take the time to understand the scope of the app. After he has understood the scope, he or she will do some market research and come up with a persona for the app users.

After which, the research information will be put into wireframe format. Wireframes are usually done in Sketch or Adobe Xd for the convenience of it. Wireframes are like a skeleton of the mobile app. Prototypes in the form on interactive wireframes will then be implemented. This also includes designing the aesthetics of the screen. After these have been approved by the clients, then the designs will be passed to the app developers for development.

What is the difference?

While the difference between these two roles might seem obvious, people often get them mixed up. The main difference is that one is doing more of the less technical work like designing and wireframing, while app developers are more technical.

Moreover, you do not need to be technically trained and understand programming to be an app designer. However, you will need to know how to programme in order to be an app developer.

App developers find ways to make their code more effective and make the overall app run faster and smoother. Whereas, app designers keep up with the User Experience trends. By understanding and following behavioural trends, app designers can make mobile apps more seamless to use. This is the goal of app developers and designers.

App Developer, App Designer, Or Full-stack Developer?

If you are looking to build a mobile app in-house, this is a common question mark. Should we hire an app developer, app designer, or a full-stack developer? The answer really depends on your needs for development. If you are looking for a lean setup, then hiring one full-stack developer makes the most sense.

However, if you are looking for long-term scaling, then hiring one of each will be the best option. This is because each developer can solely work on their necessary jobs. Then the development of the app will be streamlined.


App developers and app designers both play a crucial role in the mobile app development process. Therefore, depending on your situation, you can pick which type of resources you need for your app. Picking the right resources will be important for the success of your mobile app.

SleekDigital has full-stack developers, app developers, and also app designers.