If you’re a small business trying to boost your online presence, you may be looking to hire a web professional to build you a new website and draw together all of your online efforts. Here’s the question many small business owners don’t know how to answer: Do you need a web designer, or a web developer? This overview of the difference may help you figure out your needs:
A web designer or web design company is focused on the front end of your website — the part that visitors will see when they come to your site. Often, web designers have degrees or experience in graphic design, and they may create elements of the website in other programs (such as Adobe Illustrator) before adding them online. Essentially, the first priority of a web designer is making your site look appealing, often based on marketing or psychology principles.
Often, web designers don’t know coding languages. In the past, this meant web designers couldn’t create a website on their own. However, this is a less helpful distinction than it used to be, since now many websites are built on pre-existing platforms (such as WordPress) and can be fully created without any coding knowledge.
Web development is generally more technical and more comprehensive than web design. Web developers almost always are fluent in several coding languages, and focus on building a strong back end (that’s the aspect of your site that visitors can’t see, but facilitates what they do see). If a web developer or web development firm is extremely immersed in the technical aspects of building a website, then the final site might actually be created by a team including one or more web designers, too.
If you’re looking for a fully custom website, then web development may be the route you want to take. This may be more expensive, since developers will build a site completely from the ground up, but offers some advantages in terms of features and security; if your site stores sensitive client data or financial information, then you’ll certainly want to stay away from the kind of attractive but often easily hacked websites a web designer might build on his or her own.
Do you think you’ll need a designer, a developer, or a team including both in order to accomplish your business goals? Share your thoughts in the comments.