Do I Need To Hire a Web Designer Or a Web Developer?
“Do I need to hire a web designer or web developer?”
This is a good question for any small business to answer. However, it can be hard to answer if you don’t quite understand the difference between web design and web development!
Imagine your spouse asks you to find out if a Syrah or a Cabernet Sauvignon would go better with dinner, but you don’t quite understand the difference between those two wines. That’s a pretty tall order when you don’t understand what you’re looking for! You just can’t make the right call if you don’t understand the differences, whether the choice is between two types of wines or two types of digital marketing disciplines.
But never fear… we put together this helpful article to walk you through the differences between web design and web development. Soon, you’ll have a working concept of the finer points of web design and development, and will know if you need a web designer or web developer for your next project!
Why You Need Web Design and Web Development
If you’re not constantly improving your website, you’re risking falling behind your competitors in the area. Web design and web development are fast-changing disciplines and it’s easy for a website that was last updated two years ago to get left in the digital dust. That can have big consequences for your overall marketing strategy!
Consider the following…
- A third of users will stop using a site if the layout is unappealing. (Blue Corona)
- 50% of users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. (Web FX)
- Over 75% of users will not return to a site after a bad visit. (Web FX)
- Most searches now come from mobile devices, which means that not being mobile-friendly could tank your site performance. (ComScore)
Well-executed and effective web design and web development can make or break your business. If your site can’t load properly for half of the users or support an eCommerce store, then you’re just not performing as well as you could!
But that still doesn’t help you answer your main question: What actually is the difference between web design and web development?!
The Differences Between Web Design and Web Development
The main difference between web design and web development is the emphasis of its practitioners. At the most basic levels, designers generally focus on the visual elements of a site, and web developers focus on the backend functionalities of a site.
There can, of course, be some overlap and we’ll talk about that shortly! This is because most web designers have picked up a little coding and most web developers understand the basic design principles that make sites visually appealing to users.
However, despite the similarities and overlap, web designers and web developers are in distinctly different positions, often with very different strengths.
Web designers tend to specialize in…
- Logo Development
- Graphic Design
- Editing Videos and Photos For Optimum Impact
- Site Layout & Organization
- Color Schemes
Web developers, in contrast, focus on…
- Coding Languages and Programming Languages
- Categorization and Data Base Management
- Website Responsiveness and Performance
- Hosting and Security
- Server-Side Applications
These are two very different functions! While both disciplines involve the building of websites, the actual tasks involved are night and day!
Different Types of Web Design
Web design is often used as an umbrella term for different types of website improvement. There are three distinct breakouts:
This element of web design focuses on the user experience. Is the site laid out in a way that makes intuitive sense to the user and has the UX designer made the site, its pages, and its sections easy to use?
This element of web design emphasizes the user interface with the website. Are there compelling visuals on the site? Are the site’s calls-to-action clear? Are the various informational elements, navigational controls, and inputs (search bars, notifications, drop-down menus, etc.) functional and easy to use?
This is an all-encompassing version of web design. This web designer is fully versed with both UX AND UI Design and knows how to tackle both user experience and user interface questions. It’s important to note that a visual web designer IS NOT a graphic designer. Often, a good visual designer is skilled in some aspects of graphic design and might even be able to design custom graphics and logos, but it’s not always the case. Depending on the size and scope of your project, you might need to hire a graphic designer as well.
Different Types of Web Development
Back-End Web Development
Back-end web development focuses on software that cannot be accessed by users. This is a data-driven and categorization-rich subset of web development and key responsibilities include data collection, database management, and debugging.
Front-End Web Development
This is the client-facing element of web development. Front-end developers are chiefly working to make sure that their applications are responsive when utilized by web users, regardless of device, browser, or location.
Full-Stack Web Development
Like the visual web designer, the full stack web developer can own both back-end and front-end duties of web development. Hiring a full-stack developer often reduces project time and cost, since the time spent communicating between back-end and front-end developers is reduced considerably. However, finding a full-stack developer can be time-intensive, since full-stack development is such a complex task. You also might be understaffing the project if you only put one full-stack web developer on the web build.
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The Unicorn Metaphor for Web Design and Development
Believe it or not, some individuals are as rare as a certain mythological horse. These talented website builders excel at every aspect of site building from backend web development to UI web design and everything in between.
This hybrid, full-powered website guru can be hard to find in one individual. However, certain web agencies employ both web designers and web developers and can function as a unicorn! In this model, the agency typically can bring together disparate but skilled individuals to create a team that can produce amazing web designs and clean-coded web development.
This arrangement works better, in our opinion, since the agency brings more resources to the project than a single “unicorn” freelance web builder could. This also puts less importance on any one individual. After all, people get sick, take vacations, and have emergencies, so having a dedicated team gives you more resources and thus more protection from understaffing.
How Do I Choose a Web Designer or a Web Developer?
The above is all well and good to know, but how do you choose between a web designer and a web developer? A web designer can’t fix API issues and a web developer can’t rebrand a site’s layout, so you must choose the right partner for your needs.
The web work you need will be vastly different from that of another business, so take the recommendations below as suggestions, not laws.
Generally, you need a web designer if you’re trying to….
- Update Site Branding
- Redesign the Homepage Color Scheme
- Reorganize The Order Of a Dropdown Menu Layout In a Content Management System (CMS) Like WordPress
- Properly Catalogue Photos For Search Engine Optimization
- Submit Layouts For New Landing Pages
- Complete Any Task that Requires Extensive Knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite
In contrast, you’ll need a web developer to…
- Build a Mobile App
- Address a Hosting Problem
- Build a Contact Form
- Debug Applications
- Optimize Security Settings
- Successfully Manage Ecommerce Changes
- Improve Site Load Speed and Mobile Responsiveness Problems
- Complete Any Task That Requires Extensive Knowledge of APIs, Web Hosting, or Programming Languages
This still will vary based on your end goal and you should consult a trusted marketing reference source before hiring anyone. We also would recommend having three or four different agencies submit quotes. This should give you competitive rates, but it also allows you to vet each web building team and understand their process.
After all, you’re going to be working with this team to create a new website, which means it’s important to know as much about your web partners as possible!
Find The Right Web Designer Or Web Developer
Now that you’re an expert on web design vs web development, it’s time to find the right fit for you!
Here’s how it works.
- Explore: Search thousands of profiles to find the right fit for your specific needs.
- Identify: Choose the partner that is best for your brand.
- Contact: Reach out to a trusted B2B service provider for a consultation and quote!