There comes a time in every company’s life when they need to work on their website.
Startups have to build one from scratch, and established companies find themselves with a website that no longer serves their business needs. And when this happens, the question arises of whether to hire a web developer or a web designer to run the process.
While the two roles sound similar, they represent very different specialists. So, before you reach out to the leading US software development company for help with your website, let’s figure out what the difference between these roles is and what situations call for each of them.
What does a web designer do?
Web designers work with everything you see as a user when you open the website. At Emphasoft, web designers work on a wide range of things, including:
- Creating the website’s vision and aesthetic.
- Conducting user research to identify key pain points and needs.
- Thinking through and drawing the future website’s layout and interface.
- Building an intuitive information flow across all tabs.
- Perfecting the user experience.
The main goal of web designers is to keep the user on the website longer and lead them to the desired actions. Such actions can be purchasing a product or service, signing up for a newsletter, or leaving their personal data in the contact form. At the same time, web designers strive to make web applications as intuitive and user-friendly as possible, reducing the time it takes someone to find the information that they’re looking for.
Unlike developers, web designers aren’t required to have technical skills because they wouldn’t be the people building the website. And while some of them have a basic understanding of HTML and other technical skills, it’s much more critical that they understand the nuances of project management as they would often coordinate and collaborate with developers, business stakeholders, and sometimes even customers to create a successful website.
What does a web developer do?
Web developers, as opposed to web designers, focus on the backend of the website. So, if designers cater to the business needs and the appearance, developers work with technologies and supportive software to strengthen the website’s performance and ensure its availability.
Here are only a few examples of what web developers are usually working on in the Emphasoft company:
- Coding with a programming language (or multiple) based on mockups provided by web designers.
- Building site navigation, and clickable and scrollable elements.
- Integrating third-party services that support and expand the website’s functionality.
- Configuring the website’s server and database to help it load fast and run smoothly.
- Setting up security features to protect personal data and prevent leaks.
The work that web developers do is largely based on what web designers have envisioned. Yet the two specialists often work together and consult one another before executing certain tasks. For example, designing can be very creative but it must remain realistic. So approval from the web developer is received to ensure the interface or layout can be done from the tech perspective.
Web developers can be subdivided into 3 groups:
- Back-end developer
- Front-end developer
- Full-stack developer
Backend developers work on creating the base of the web application and it’s usually things that we don’t see or feel, such as data management. Front-end developers focus on the part of the website that enhances the users’ experience, such as making the website compatible with all devices and browsers. Full-stack developers are able to work with both front- and back-end tasks.
Who do I hire for my website update?
As we see, web developers and web designers are distinctly different. Yet, it’s still not always clear who you need to partner up with for your website project. Let’s look at some real-life pain point examples.
You don’t have a website
If there is no website yet, and you are at the MVP development stage, then it would be best to hire a web team or outsource them via a software development company. At this point, we mostly have ideas and nothing is finalised, so both a designer and a developer would be needed to deliver high-quality results.
You need a new design
Many enterprises created their websites years ago and now require an update to keep up with customer requirements and new design standards. If that’s your case, then you can start with just hiring a web designer, but unless you plan to make surface-level changes only, a web developer’s help will be required later on. It is rare that a complete website redesign happens without at least a bit of coding and backend reorganising.
Minor design touch-ups are required
If your company is happy with the current design but minor changes are required, such as an update on the logo, company’s brand colours, or images, then the web designer would suffice.
Extra functionality has to be added
Adding new functionality, for example, a corporate blog, online calculators, or an online shop, would require you to hire a team of people. Both designers and developers have to be engaged in the process to create new fully-functioning features or tools for the website.
Tip: when you are thinking of a possible solution for making changes to the website and need to decide who to work with, ask yourself: am I improving performance or the visuals? The answer will guide you in the right direction.
The truth of the matter is, in most cases, it won’t be a question of hiring either a web designer or a web developer. So much of their work is interdependent that you can only do minor changes without engaging the other party.
In general, if you have a website and your company has growth plans, it is a good idea to have both a web developer and a web designer in your team or contract via a software development company. The digital world moves fast, and in order to keep up you need to act fast too. Looking for professionals and going through the hiring process each time will cause delays and risk you missing the momentum. A timely change to the website, in turn, can boost your sales and brand loyalty among clients.