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Web Developer or Web Designer — What’s the Difference?

Should you hire a web designer or a web developer to create (or update) your website? What’s the difference? The answer is: quite a lot! Though the terms are frequently used interchangeably, there are major differences between the two. It’s like the difference between night and day or (more importantly) left-brain/right-brain. One is skilled in design while the other is highly analytical. Who should you choose? The truth is that there’s no simple answer. Let’s break it down.

Web Design

Web design is the work that goes into the look and feel of a website. Designers are highly knowledgeable in many aspects of design. How will the site communicate your brand? What will capture the attention of your target audience? These are questions that a web designer can answer and perform for you. They specialize in aesthetics and an in-depth knowledge of art and design.

Web Development

Web developers, on the other hand, are programmers. They typically view the world in words, not imagery. Development is the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure functionality. It’s the use of data to drive growth. Web developers are knowledgeable in markup (HTML), scripting (JavaScript) and stylesheets (CSS). They likely know a few programming languages, can create and query a database, and are responsible for the work that goes into creating dynamic websites that change and flow based on what your users are doing.

If You Can, Hire Both!

So, who should you hire? A web developer or web designer? Ideally, both! If you have the budget, your business will benefit from hiring a developer and designer who work well together and understand your vision and purpose. You certainly won’t regret it! If hiring both isn’t an option right now, that’s okay. Most designers have a little knowledge of development and vice versa.

What Matters Most?

Decide what matters most to your business success right now, and add the other aspect as you grow. If a static website that looks and feels great and doesn’t need to change as users interact with the content will work for you, hire a web designer. If your needs are more data focused, where users interact with content that’s constantly changing (think banking websites, subscription based sites, or e-commerce), then hire a web developer.

Can't One Person Do It All?

Of course there are some out there who claim to be both (I used to be one of them). In very rare instances that may be true, but it certainly isn’t typical. Ask a programmer to create a piece of art, or an artist to write a piece of code. You aren’t likely get great results out of either. Figure out what your most immediate needs are and find someone who works within that niche. You'll be glad you did.

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