Your business needs a website. It’s the online home of the brand, the core of your digital marketing strategy, and perhaps the greatest lead generation tool at your disposal on the internet. However, how do you make sure you get exactly the site that you need? Should you hire a web designer or a web developer and what’s the difference?
People get the two types of website building professionals confused regularly, and you can’t really blame them. Design and development sound like they could both easily describe creation but there are some key distinctions. Both the designer and the developer bring different skills and work on different elements of the website.
Unless you plan on using one of the growing number of DIY website building tools on the internet, you’re likely to need some professional help. But what kind of professional help do you need?
To put it simply, web designers will focus on the aesthetic side of the website, or the front end of things. They’re largely responsible for the overall style of the website, not just visually, but in terms of ease of navigation and use, as well. They will help you complete prototype designs, ensure that each page has the visual elements it needs to be complete, and uses a wide range of tools including Photoshop, Illustrator and so on to create the aesthetic to be applied across the entire page. While they may not need the coding expertise of web developers, they’re still likely to need and bring some of their own knowledge of coding, all the same.
Even within the two broadly recognizable categories of “website building services”, there are still further distinctions to make. When you go looking for either a web designer or a web developer, you should have a precise idea of the skills that you need. For instance, when you need a web designer, you might need a visual designer, UX designer, or UI designer. Visual designers (also commonly called graphic designers) focus almost solely on the aesthetic part of the website, creating the images, graphics, and visual assets that are used throughout the website. UX designers create the user experience, which Is primarily about making navigation and functionality easy and intuitive for the website’s visitors. UI designers, on the other hand, work on the user interface, which is about better designing the interactive elements so that visitors can more easily interact with the site.
Just as there are different kinds of web designers, so, too, are there are different types of web developer. Choosing the right one is about the expertise you need. Back-end web developers, for instance, work with back-end development technologies that can be used to create widely different types of site, so you need to know whether you need a site built on node.js vs golang. Front end developers work with languages like CSS and HTML, primarily on the kind of things that your visitors can see and interact with, such as plug-ins and applications. Full-stack developers are what you can web developers who work on both the front -end and back-end of the website.
So, when is a web designer the right choice for you? Speaking broadly, if you already have a website or are using a website building tool to take care of some of the work, such as Squarespace or WordPress, but you want a professional, bespoke look to it, then you’re going to want one of the best web designers on your side. They’re there to help implement new designs, to make improvements to layouts and navigation, to update the visuals and branding of the site, to update or edit photos, or to add or edit videos. Effectively, if the chances to the site could mostly be considered “skin deep”, then the web designer brings the sense of aesthetic and style that you’re going to need.
On the other hand, if you need to build a website from scratch, and you need it to meet some specific demands for customer or employee use purposes, then the web developer can help you create the bespoke solution that you need. This includes integrating new features, functions, and plugins, building sites and mobile apps, creating contact forms, fixing hosting and server issues, as well as general improvements to loading time, page security, and so on. If you need a specific kind of website, such as a content management system (that isn’t WordPress) or an ecommerce platform that’s all your own, a back-end web developer will be able to help you make the customizations that your website needs.
Before you start building that website, you’re going to want to figure out which of them best suits your needs. If you’re going to need someone to build a custom website from scratch, then you’re likely to need a web developer. However, if you have the site partially built and you need help in developing the user interface and user experience, then you should opt for a web designer, instead. Finding the right professional is key to making sure that your website is ready to go.