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Web Designer / Web Developer: Who Builds My Website?

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When it comes to building websites it can be confusing as to who actually builds it. Do you need a website designer or a website developer, and what’s the difference between the two?

What is a website designer?

Web design is a process of conceptualizing, planning, and building a collection of electronic files that determine the layout, colors, text styles, structure, graphics, images, and use of interactive features that deliver pages to your site visitors. Source

So a website designer would be someone who assists you in conceptualising, planning and building the electronic files that determine the layout etc. Does that sound like the person you’re thinking of hiring? It all might seem a little technical when explained like this, so it’s usually better to think of them as the person that makes your content display. A web designer uses tools like Photoshop, Adobe InDesign or Canva, or a combination of these!

If your website was a car, your website designer would be in charge of the aesthetics from the comfort of the seats to the paint job.

What is a Web Developer?

Well, a web developer does all the above and more.  A web developer is more technical, they generally code from scratch, build wireframes and work more with CSS and HTML.  A web developer tends to work with far bigger projects than a web designer, and in some cases, a web designer will bring in a web developer to deal with the more technical aspects of Php, Python, Ruby or Javascript.

If your website was a car, your web developer is in charge of the engine and how it propels the vehicle, the emissions it makes etc.

Depending on your website needs will depend on whether you need a web designer or a web developer.

A general rule of thumb is the more moving parts your website has, the more likely you are to need a developer. If you have an existing website and you want to add a shop to it, you’d probably need a developer.

It’s easy to mix the two up because web design isn’t a one-off process.

A lot of websites are built in phases.

Initially, you’ll get a site designed and built. Then you’ll want to add things to the website. You can get a technical VA to support you with the additions, or you can ask your website designer for a quote to add the new aspect in. The most common additions to a website include

  • Blog section
  • Email integration
  • Google Analytics
  • Enhanced SEO capability

The next phase is generally some sort of way to take a payment. This generally involves a payment processor.

payment processor is a company (often a third party) appointed by a merchant to handle transactions from various channels such as credit cards and debit cards for merchant acquiring banks. They are usually broken down into two types: front-end and back-end. Source

Some technical VAs and some website designers can handle this for you. But if they can’t, it doesn’t make them a bad web designer (in fact it makes them an excellent one in knowing their limits), it just means you need a web developer.

When it comes to investment, a web developer is generally more skilled in different areas than a web designer, so they tend to be more expensive.

A web developer may have limited design skills, so you may have perfect code but you’re not happy with the finished look.

So when hiring for your next website project, or your first website one of the questions you need to ask before you book the person is “Are you a website designer or a web developer?”.

Find out how we can support your Web design business here.

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