Difference between a web designer and a web developer?
Even though websites are a common marketing channel in the overall marketing plan of a business, there is something mysterious about them that is important to understand.
In this article, we are going to unravel the mysteries surrounding people- web designers, web developers, and other good people who produce the variety that goes into a professional business website in WordPress.
Because if you're running a law firm, a marketing consultancy, or a small to medium-sized professional services business owner or want to be, you've already got your hands full, right?
There are a few important things to keep in mind before going to the main event.
Web Design Project Warning
Understand that unless you're running a big business, you won't need all of these people.
Because titles are used inconsistently in the web industry, you want to focus more on the skills and deliverables that matter for your unique project. And then, when you're ready to hire someone, you'll know exactly what to ask to cover your sights.
Because each web design project has its own unique scope of work based on the needs of the client, the skills or team required may also differ.
I'm introducing Web Designer, Web or Brand Strategist, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist first because this is one of the first people you'll hire to complete your website project. Their order doesn't matter or necessarily when they come into play during the project.
Developers, photographers, copywriters, and web hosts are usually coordinated by any web business you hire.
Making the Case for Hybrid Designers
While some designers and developers stay in their lane as experts, many others (including you) take a hybrid approach, happily designing and helping their clients get their websites and more. There are many other things to do as well. Visual marketing communications are done.
Some large design and tech companies refer to this as having a T-shaped (or more recently, V-shaped) professional.
Taking me as an example, I am primarily a website strategist and designer who also has practical skills in web development, basic SEO, and project management. I also do Visual Branding, Graphic Design and have a specialization in Marketing Promotion.
Here is a roster of people and businesses who contribute their skills and expertise towards building a professional business website in WordPress.
The web or brand strategist
works closely with clients through the discovery process to clarify website marketing goals, ideal customers, and competition. Understand how a business website can fit into a larger marketing plan. Develops a creative brief or brand strategy as a roadmap for leveraging the website to help the client achieve goals. You can also do web copywriting or partner with a copywriter.
creates and executes SEO strategy to help websites get in organic search results by the target audience. Modern SEO bases its strategy on best practices that are currently in favor of content marketing.
Sometimes confused with SEO, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is paid Google Ads (fka Google Adwords). SEM is arguably less effective for website conversion than SEO.
creates concepts, artwork, and layouts for websites. Bases the visual aesthetics on the client's existing visual brand (logos, color scheme, fonts), creative brief, and meetings with the client. Creates a web design mockup which is handed over to a web developer for coding.
Other titles that web design works include: Brand Designer (specializes in creating the overall look for a company, including logo design and visual identity); Graphic Designer (specializes in print); UX/UI Designer (designs primarily web and mobile products and apps based on research that prioritizes the user) and Visual Designer (creates concepts and layouts for large-scale digital product briefs).
The project manager project
oversees, making sure that the client and everyone on the team knows what to do and when to do it. Keeps the project moving using appropriate tools and status reports so that it is completed within scope, time and budget. (I like to do this for my clients.) The
writes marketing copy for the website, including the headline, call-to-action, and captions. The website understands reading behavior and uses techniques that capture attention and accommodate skimming and scanning. Collaborate with clients and designers on brand strategy and become familiar with UX, SEO, and/or StoryBrand methodology.
The web photographer
Takes of the client, their team, and products to support the visual brand. Makes images work in responsive website layouts. Collaborates with designer and client to create an urgent list of shots. Works with a stylist. Do photo editing and correction.
The web developer
takes the mockup created by the web designer and writes the code that brings it to real life. Makes decisions about the best technology to use to make the design, interaction, and third-party integration work (such as mailing list management or inbound marketing platforms). Tests the site for quality assurance and launches it on the webserver. Troubleshoots and resolves any technical issues.
Other titles that do web development work include: full-stack developer (specializing in a full range of web coding languages), front-end developer (designs websites and writes markup code), back-end developer (Works with complex website functions such as databases).
The web host
manages the web server where the website resides, with a focus on speed and security. The web host can also manage domain name and their registration, email services, and the Domain Name System (DNS), but I recommend using at least two different companies to manage these services should something go wrong. But the services could not be stopped completely. My favorite web host is Siteground.
a small to medium-sized professional services business owner or marketer, you want to focus more on those skills and deliverables There are website professionals who promise to bring your unique project and their title low.
We are not trying to resolve the common malpractice of using web designers and web developers interchangeably. We just want clarity about the variety of people who work on one website and what they can provide for your unique project so that you can formulate the right questions to ask and, finally, who to hire, make a smart decision about it.
And again, unless you're representing big business here, chances are, your project won't require working with more than one web design business, or a handful of experts if you're managing the job yourself. Huh.
Your best bet? Look for people with hybrid skills who can fulfill more than one role and/or have connections to bring in talent as needed. Or be ready to complete some work yourself.