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Differences Between a Web Design Expert and a Web Developer

June 4 2013

Web designers versus web developers, and yes there is a huge difference. Many people use these terms lightly and associate one with the other. But, upon closer examination, you will see that there is a big difference between the web designer and the website developer.

So How Are Website Designers and Developers Distinct?

Since they are both in the web design industry it can be an easy mistake to bundle the 2 together, but in reality their job roles are very different. So, if you are looking to get a website designed, you should really know the types of companies that you may end up working with. Will you be, working with a web design studio or a web development firm, that has some design experience.
This can prove fatal in the execution and outcome of your website as going down the wrong path may lead to complications when the final web site is delivered.

If, you are looking to have a website that is high on design then you should be looking at a web design studio whose focus is on the graphical side of things. Alternatively, if you have a complex, back-end driven website project that requires a lot of technical expertise then you should be looking for a web development firm. Ideally, you should be looking for a company that has a mix of these 2 disciplines, that is; a studio with a team of great designers who can partner with the ‘techies’, to produce a functional site that looks great.

More Website Design & Web Developer Distinctions

Knowing the difference between the two types of companies for most people can be extremely hard to work out, but following are some key points to help you differentiate the two:

The web design studio will generally have a more graphical slant to its operation. When you go in for a meeting their angle will be more aimed at how the website should look. They will be focusing more on graphical elements and design styles and try to pitch their services form a visual perspective. If asked technical questions beyond the very basics, you may find they have to refer this to another company or are simply unable to answer the question.

> They will be pushing to show you their portfolio of work and it’s more than likely that they will have some great looking website to show you. If you delve a bit deeper you will notice that most of their work is for B@B style sites. That is companies who are looking for websites that are ‘brochure style’ in nature. Nothing too complicated, just sites that offer something visually distinctive.
Web design studios are the ideal option for businesses looking for the creative design edge. They are able to look at the competitive nature of a specific industry and come up with designs that set the standard.

> Generally speaking, web designers prices will be quite competitive, depending on the brief given. If you are a business looking for a basic website, that will be enough to give you an online presence, then costs can be quite cheap.

Alternatively, a web development company will offer the exact opposite services of a web design studio. Their core service is about web architecture, databases, content management systems, additional plus ins, HTML coding, JAVA scripting, progamming, coding, SEO, API’s, AJAX etc etc. All the things that make your eyes glaze over if you don’t know what they are talking about.

Web developers will have very little design experience and be uncomfortable discussing design elements. Their only concern is how it should function, not look. They can be a little frustrating at times, and may be short on the patience side of things if you don’t speak their language ( a great example of this is trying to deal with a tech expert over the phone…see how annoying this can be). They won’t have been to design school or have any formal training in graphic design. If they pretend to know about design ask to see their portfolio of work, you should be able to judge their abilities from this point. Never let them bluff you about their design skills. This will and I repeat WILL lead to issues once the site has been launched. That is, it may look aweful.

How Can Hopping Mad Designs Help?

In today’s competitive digital environment, you need to be able to distinguish between the two disciplines, if you are going to get a successful web outcome.

As a director of Hopping Mad Designs, I can honestly say that I have seen and heard some horrific web stories of businesses confusing the two. For example, they have gone to a friend who is a web developer, paid a small fortune for a site, that may function well but looks terrible. It just doesn’t attract people or convert users. It looks bland, unattractive, basically hideous. Whilst they may have thought they were making a prudent decision in the beginning it has actually turned out to be a grave business error. What they should have done is work with a web design team, get the site looking great and start marketing themselves online.

> At Hopping Mad we are lucky enough to have a strong mix of both in-house designers and developers. The advantage is that we can work with any customer on any size project.

> We can design and develop sites using the latest Web 2.0 standards and offer client’s options such as responsive web design and mobile web technologies. Customers no longer have to look for 2 different companies to work on 1 project. It can all be facilitated by our graphic and web teams.

> There is a massive cost saving as we have streamlined the processes so there is no blurring of the line between the design and programming components of a website. We talk internally amongst each other, not externally to another firm.

Web Designers and Developers differ greatly both in attitude, language, and deliverables. I would advice that the company you select has a strong mix of the two. Good developers and designers are a rarity and so if you can find the perfect combination, then you have hit the jackpot!