What is the Different between a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

Although web designer and web developer are often used interchangeable,  they couldn’t be more different than an apple and a banana. Sure, both involved setting up a website but that is where the similarities stop. Web Designers are more artistic and graphical, where web developers are the programmers that make the web work.

Initially everyone who could operate a website, was a web designer. Heck our company name started as  Acreative Touch Web Design (ACTWD). There were easy to use software like FrontPage or you could simply write a little HTML code and that was that. But as time has gone on and the internet is more sophisticated, these rudimentary methods have transformed themselves in one of two ways.

  1. The web designer has become a graphic artists, and is exactly what the name implies. They are involved in the pretty. They help develop the brand and feed the development group to  make sure that the website has a wow factor to it.
  2. The other type of web designer is someone with a computer that knows how to use Dreamweaver or can manipulate WordPress to some degree and build a website. Those people are also called web designers. They are often cheaper and normally work with small business owners setting up a website, For someone looking for a brochure website, these type web designers are okay. But for someone who wants effective vehicle to market their business they probably need to make a different decision.

Really option one is the first step in having a website built. But sadly most small business and inexperienced business owners pick option two not understanding the scope of the job. Then they bemoan the quality, functionally or effectiveness of their website. We work with a lot of web designers though our web hosting company and we appreciate the job they do.  For the most part, their customers only need the brochure type website with no expectation for the website to rank.

So what exactly is a web developer?  

This is what most businesses actually need. Sure it costs more but these folks write the code that makes the web run. Every time you place an order on Amazon or push the link button on FaceBook, a web developer wrote that. These folks should not be confused with a computer programmer, that’s Bill Gates or maybe Linus Torvalds. Web Developers program websites. They set up the technical interactions that a website needs to interact with Google properly. They understand that you don’t just take down all the pages on an existing website. Moreover those pages need to be redirected.

Web designers and web developers are two different jobs but they should work together. When planning a website its always advisable t first work with a designer to get the blueprint for the developer. Then move to a developer. It is common for larger firms to have both of these disciplines in house but it is incumbent on the business owner to find out if that is the case by asking the questions.

Few Guidelines to help choose designer vs. developer

These are questions we would recommend asking to determine which path to take:

  1. Do you want a brochure/business card on the internet?  A place to send people if they ask (designer)
  2. Do you want a shopping card or a way for clients to interact with you on the internet? (developer)
  3. Do you want a marketing campaign including SEO, SEM with lead tracking? (developer)
  4. Do you want a shopping cart? (most cases developer)
  5. Do you have any custom requirement for you business website? (developer)
  6. Do you need graphics created? Do you have a Brand (designer)
  7. How long have you been in business?
  8. Who is your biggest client?
  9. How many sites do you simultaneously work on?

These few basic questions should start to help clarify the picture what the scope of the job is and who to hire. But most of all this should highlight the fact that there is a world of difference between a web designer and a web developer.




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