Do I Need to Hire a Web Developer or Web Designer?

“Do I need to hire a web developer or web designer?”

That question is usually accompanied by a lack of clear understanding of what the difference between the two is, and more so, how the entire process of creating a website works.  

And we understand it, being a business owner and approaching the notion of creating a website or updating your current site is a bit intimidating to begin with.

Many other things are already on your mind, such as:

How much is my website going to cost?

Are there any ongoing costs?

How can I ensure that my customers have a great experience?

How can I make my site reflect my brand?

And what about showing up in Google’s search results?

Caught up in these thoughts you may find yourself realizing that you don’t know much about the process.

You’ve heard all about web developers, programmers, designers, UX specialist, and so on, but what’s the difference between them? How do they work together?

So, let’s try to address which web professional you need to hire to bring your website to fruition.

To get a better idea of the different types of web professionals that make up the web development team, let’s explore the three main categories that a specialist finds themselves in, comprising different aspects of a full project.

For the most part, there are back-end developers, front-end developers, and web designers.

Front-end developers

The front-end developer is the person that builds the website, forms and all, that you see and interact with. Let’s explore their role in web development.

The front-end is also referred to as the client-side (where back-end is referred to as the server-side). This is because this is the side of the website that the client (user) actually sees and interacts with.

They implement three common layers of the website using different markup, style sheet and programming languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript respectively.

HTML is used to markup the content of a page and give the document structure; CSS then is used to apply visual styles to the content (such as colours, font styles, spacing, and padding); and finally JavaScript is used to code the interactivity of the site (for example, when you click on a button to cycle through images in a slider).

The front-end developers base their work off of mockups and wireframes that web designers create to guide the project.

Back-end developers

The front-end is often the only thing the average person thinks about when they think of web development.

But, on the server-side of the website, the back-end, there are systems in place that operate the functionality of the website.

Imagine you’ve opened up a website to buy tickets for a show. In this case, what you see and interact with directly is the front-end of the website.

In addition, there is a database set up on the server to process the transaction and store information about it.

Similarly, if you are filling out a contact form, there needs to be a system set up on the server-side to store this information and transfer it to the right places.

The development and management of these systems is the duty of the back-end developer.  

Web designers

The web designer is often the one who prepares the design of the web pages for the front-end developer to bring to life. This includes the aesthetic of the site along with the usability. This is conveyed to the developers using mockups and wireframes.

The web designer incorporates many different factors into their work, such as branding strategy, graphic design, responsive design, search engine optimization, and more.

For example, as mobile internet usage has slowly taken over desktop internet usage in the past few years, development teams have had to ensure websites are responsive — that they render properly across all screen sizes. Have you ever opened a site on your mobile phone and the buttons were just way too small, or too close together?

This task would land in the hands of the web designer. Their role would be to redesign the mobile site so that the users can easily browse on smaller touch screens without becoming frustrated with their experience.

The agency perspective

Once you lay out the differences between these three main roles involved in web development, it’s easy to see that development is a dynamic process involving different skill sets.

Depending on the website you are looking to create, you may be able to hire one professional that can handle it all.

However, it’s more likely that working with a multi-disciplinary agency team would provide you with more depth for your project. This includes people specialized in back-end development, front-end development, web design, and even other professionals such as content marketers and search engine optimization specialists.

From the agency perspective, these people work together on countless projects where their roles overlap and this results in a better perspective when they are focused on their individual role and how that role fits in with others’.

Approaching the development of a website for your business can be intimidating, and with the multiple layers of web development, looking towards a full-stack agency is a smart move so you can get a better understanding of the entire scope of your ideas. This will lead to a more precise understanding of what it will cost you and the return on investment you’ll receive.

We’re hoping this clears things up for you as you approach your website build or redesign. Whether to hire a single professional or an agency will really depend on the scope of your project.  

MARSWorks, along with most agencies can help by providing you with a free consultation. Contact us today to get started!