You’ve decided to start a website for your business. But, where do you start? You know you need someone to develop the website for you. What exactly goes into that? You have heard of web developers and web designers, but you’re not clear on the difference between the two. A lot of effort and skill goes into building a website. That part you fully apprehend. What you need is some help understanding what you should be looking for when you hire a web developer and a web designer.
What is the difference between a web developer and a web designer?
A web developer is a person who is a computer programmer by trade. However, a web developer specializes in programming websites. A web designer is a graphic designer by trade. In his case, a web designer specializes in designing websites. That’s the big difference. A web developer is a computer programmer, while a web designer is a graphic design professional.
Web Developers specialize in the more complex aspects of building a website. A web developer will be able to build a database, handle forms, implement security and do an array of other things that a complex website demands. Web developers, as a rule, are not graphics-intensive people. They tend to prefer sparse, highly functional websites.
Think of a website like Google or Facebook. Those websites are not very driven by graphics. Google is basically a black page with a box in the middle. Facebook is full of information, but at the end of the equation it is nothing more than a couple boxes of different colors, each filled with text. Those websites are excellent examples of the aesthetics and function you can expect from a web developer.
In general, the web developer aesthetic dominates the internet. This is because, for the most part, the major websites of the internet were built by programmers, not designers. Hence, the prevailing visual attitude of the web is sparse and functional.
As a group, web developers tend to be more expensive than web designers. Their skills are more in demand. In fact, the majority of the world’s web developers do not contract independently. They are already hired by the top websites in the world.
Web Designers, on the other hand, tend to produce a very different type of website. They tend to produce websites that are heavy on splash. This can be very appealing to new website buyers.
The downside to working with a web designer is that they tend to be less able to program. Many will have taught themselves a bit of code. It is worth being wary of these designers, as they generally lack the security background to provide more advanced functionality, especially when it comes to handling user data and shopping carts.
The upside to web designers is they are more readily available. Likewise, web designers, as a group, tend to work cheaper than web developers. For someone in need of a basic website, this cost difference is a major factor. There’s no need to pay for more skill than you need. Don’t pay someone thousands of dollars to do work someone else can deliver for hundreds.
How do you decide between web design and web development?
Deciding to focus on web design or web development is a tough choice for most businesses to make. Picking between the two skill sets requires that you prioritize your company’s needs. Is price the biggest issue? How about functionality? Do you need secure checkout? Does the site have to pop? Sorting out those priorities will settle you on your answer.
Let’s say you are running a start-up that sells one revolutionary product. You probably want to wow customers. This is a case when having some great graphics people pull together a slick package would be helpful. Yes, you will need a cart system to process sales, but basic cart systems can be implemented without the help of advanced coding. For that type of start-up, having the graphics people build something akin to Apple.com is likely the way to go.
On the other hand, if the website’s function is your company’s entire business model, you will likely need to hire a web developer. Advanced functions require a programmer who knows how to implement them. If you’re set on wanting a strong graphics package, you can always implement function first, and find a web designer to pull together the graphics package later.