Web Designer Vs Web Developer
Almost everywhere you look someone is talking about or calling themselves either a web designer or web developer.
Thanks to the growth of do-it-yourself services like Wix, 1&1 MyWebsite, GoDaddy and the like, and the availability of reasonably cheap web design/development software like Adobe Muse and SoftPress Freeway, you’d be forgiven for thinking that anybody could be a web designer or a web developer.
The question is; what does a professional designer or developer offer? Are they worth the extra money and, what’s the difference between the two?
A simple way to view the difference between a web designer and a web developer is provided, strangely enough by the construction industry – consider the designer as the architect and the developer as the builder.
A designer is more concerned with how a site looks in terms of fonts, colours and imagery used. They will often have a strong grasp of design trends, what is currently ‘en vogue’, typography and the like.
They will also be concerned with how the user will interact with the site (often known as user experience – or UX for short). They will have studied graphic design and have a strong identity of their own, with a portfolio to match.
A good web designer will often save time (and therefore money) because they also have an understanding of the other side of the business – the developer, and designing to help ease the development process.
The developer will usually take the web designers work and turn it into something more interactive. They love to solve problems and will have experience of (usually) more than one programming language, but normally specialising in one – for example PHP or .NET.
Web developers tend to have fun with stuff that most of us would consider geeky, but without them, the web just wouldn’t be useful. It would be nothing more than a static collection of images – no Amazon, BBC News, Dropbox, keeping in touch with your favourite company’s mailing list or any of the other ubiquitous online services that we now can’t do without – on your phone, tablet or desktop.
They will be more concerned with how things get done on the web from a technical point of view – for example, the way information is entered on a contact us form and then processed into a mailing list database.
Often though, you’ll find that developers and designers will have skills overlapping each other – some designers are actually good developers and vice versa and, they really enjoy the fact that they’re in control of the whole project from the first concept to the very last line of code before launch.
Whilst a ‘jack of all trades’ can build you a custom site all by themselves, it is of course more efficient to use a web designer for the design and a developer for the coding. Ironically, this is one of the reasons that you normally pay more to use a web agency than a freelancer. Obviously they tend to have more overheads, but they would also use a specialist for each part of the build.
The Honest Agency are somewhere in the middle, our freelance network keeps our overheads very low, but gives us a pool of specialist resources allowing us to offer the agency experience, but close to (or even the same as) the cost of a jack of all trades freelancer.