Website developer. Website designer. If you’re looking for someone to help you with your website, you’ve probably discovered that people often use these terms interchangeably. The thing is, these are two different positions with different skill sets. So how do you know which one you need?
Jump into the rabbit hole and read on to find out.
What does a web designer do?
If you’re looking for someone to make your website pretty, you’ll hire a designer. These professionals focus on the user’s experience – and how your website presents itself visually. They may or may not know code, but they don’t use it all the time.
A designer typically creates the pieces of a website (like buttons and logos) using a graphic design program like InDesign or Photoshop. A designer works with things like typography and color palettes. They also work with user experience design elements, in addition to wireframes and site mock ups.
They take your ideal client information and help to create a site that appeals to that person, as well as the path to guide the client from your homepage through everything you have to offer.
Graphics and icons? They make those. Layouts and wire frames? They do those too. Once those pieces are complete, they may send the elements to a developer to create a functional website. A designer doesn’t always code, but it’s become increasingly important that a designer knows at least the basics of website coding.
What does a web developer do?
To over simplify a bit, a web developer is the person who takes the layouts, buttons, and other assets and makes them into a functional website. These professionals do work with the code for your website.
Because they know about the coding language that your site is built with, they’re also the ones who can do the troubleshooting if something goes wrong. They can look at HTML or CSS and see problems that you won’t catch if you don’t understand the language.
You may hear the terms front-end developer and back-end developer. This isn’t just semantics – there is a difference. A front-end developer is responsible for taking the visual designer’s information and turning it into a working website, by building the site in HTML and CSS.
A back-end web developer handles more complex things, like creating shopping carts for e-commerce sites, web forms, and knows how to create customized solutions using application programming interfaces (APIs).
What about those who do both?
But wait! There’s another type of web creation professional that should be included in the designer versus developer discussion. Increasingly, there are professionals who do both design and development. That’s where I fit in the discussion.
At CityGirl’s Design, I use pre-made WordPress theme and can skip a bunch of custom coding that takes time (and costs people money).
Instead of doing that custom coding, I focus on implementing the design directly on the website instead of in Photoshop or another software program. I know what works and what doesn’t instantly and can make sure that what I do is functional. You don’t have to call someone to do the technical stuff after I make a pretty, user-friendly site because it’s already done!
I call myself a web designer, but I’m a bit more than that since I can also code and get clients the functionality they’re looking for.
If you’re interested in putting a website together but don’t have the time of knowledge, you’ll want to hire someone with the skills to create something that expresses your brand personality and has the user-friendliness that’ll keep people coming back to your site, not throw up their hands in frustration. There’s plenty to consider, but what it comes down to is what you’re comfortable with and what you’re looking for in someone to work with your site.
If you just need visuals, the designer is the one your call. If you want functionality, call the developer. If you want both and don’t want to pay two different people?
Call me at CityGirl’s Design by using my contact form to get a design quote and get the process started!