The difference between a web designer and a web developer, and why it matters to your small business | LA Digital Marketing

You’re finally done building the groundwork for your new company.

After sleepless nights and working on the weekends, you’re ready to show it off to the world with a brand new website.

You’re probably wondering who you need to hire.A web designer? A web developer? Or both? Is there even a difference? 

It’s pretty common for web designers and web developers to get mixed up.

Although they’re both part of the web building process, they’re involved in very different ways.

I’m here to help you navigate the differences so you’re able to confidently pick the best option for your new company website.

I’ll also show you how knowing the difference between the two can help save you time, headaches and money.

What Is The Difference between a web designer and a web developer.

The technical definition

So, if you do a quick search in Google or other search engines, you’ll quickly come across a definition that sounds similar to this one: A web developer writes code. A web designer creates the layouts.

I created a couple of screenshots so you can visually see what the difference is.

Below is a screenshot of a layout/design a web designer might create.

This is a picture that shows the general layout of a theme before we fully customize it for our clients

Here is a snippet of a piece of code a web developer could write, to bring a design like the one above to life.

This is a screenshot of a code snippet written in php. The screenshot is used to illustrate the difference between a web designer and a web developer.

To most of us in the field, this definition makes sense, and there is nothing else that should be known beyond this.

Luckily for you, I have been a teacher in my short life. I know how some experts might understand certain concepts so clearly that they feel as though there is no need for further explanation.

I also understand how someone can be from a different field and have more questions about a particular subject.

My guess is that right now, some of the questions in your mind might be:

  • But why can’t one person just design and code?
  • It can’t be that complex right?
  • What is the difference between designing and coding anyway?
  • Can someone really code without a design

I’ll try as best as I can to answer some of the questions that you might have right now. I’m going to attempt to do so with the use of an analogy.

The Good Definition

One of the best analogies I have been able to come up with is that of a developer and an architect.

If you needed a house, in the simplest terms, the architect would draw that house, and the developer or builder would do the construction.

In the case of building a website, in simplest terms, the web designer draws your website, and the web developer does the construction of the website.

Of course architects do more than just drawing the house. Likewise, web designers do more than just drawing your website.

I just wanted to paint a small picture of how the two jobs can differ from each other. 

A small history

At the dawn of the internet, there wasn’t much need for web designers. Interfaces (the buttons, the text that you interact with) weren’t a priority.

As the internet grew into the juggernaut it is today, businesses need to adapt and create better and better designs to compete for customers’ attention.

This need for better design grew a wider and wider gab between what web designers do and web developers do.

Like most jobs in the world today, the two professions got more and more specialized.

Why this difference matters to your small business

At Brandwell, our primary goal is to help small business owners grow their businesses online. Part of this objective is to try to make owning a website more accessible to all.

That is why we wanted to focus this article on why knowing the difference between a web designer and a web developer, can help your business.

To illustrate why this difference matters, we’re going to use three different (made up, but possibly real) scenarios.

The three scenarios address creating website with WordPress. I you’re using websites like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, or other DIY website builders, the design and development is done for you.

The scenarios focus on WordPress because it is the platform we primarily use at Brandwell to build websites. We believe WordPress is the best website platform for small business owners.

Scenario 1: Your small business needs web development

Say you’re a small business owner with a small budget ($500 – $1000) to build your website.

If you know nothing about the difference between web designers and web developers, you might go online and look for “website prices”. When you do that, you might find something like this:

This is the screenshot of a google search on "Website Prices". We use this screenshot to show how widely website prices can change, and how knowing the difference between a web designer and a web developer can save small business owners money.

Websites that vary from $40 – $12000. Or from $0 – $20000. 

Many of the companies offering incredibly low prices won’t be all that legitimate. Many of the companies charging alot won’t either. I have heard horror stories on both sides of the spectrum.

Our industry is new. As such, it is full of people trying to take advantage of unaware customers.

On behalf of all the good people in my industry, I sincerely apologize in advance. This might give you a headache, or it might leave you hopeless and want to give up. But don’t. 

There are lots of good companies out there. You’re going to have to do some research.

Try a better search

Now, instead of searching for “website prices”, let’s say you did more digging and stumbled upon this article, or many others explaining the difference between a web designer and a web developer. 

In this instance, you may realize that you could actually just look for a great looking WordPress theme for example.

One of those would cost you anywhere between 0 – $100. But 90% of these tools are legitimate. Once  you found a theme you liked, with all the layouts, fonts, buttons styles, and form design that you like, you could then look for “Web developers near me”.

You would then ask that trusted web developer you find (for a lower rate) to simply develop (implement) that design for you.

This could save you a lot of time, headaches and money.

Side note: I offer WordPress Theme Customization Service. This service takes any design that you like (whether designed by us or someone else), and turn it into a fast, secure and mobile-friendly website.

Scenario 2: Your small business needs (custom) web design

In the second scenario, you’re a small business owner with a similar budget as scenario #1, but you happen to know enough coding to help you implement designs with code and platforms like WordPress.

In this instance, you could search instead for “web designers near me”.

You would then find a designer that could create a custom theme with unique layouts, fonts, forms ect, that you could then implement yourself. 

There is also another (sub)scenario here where you don’t need custom design because you either have a lower budget, or you are okay with pre-built designs/themes.

In this case, you would look for a theme you like, and implement the design yourself.

Either way, knowing the difference between web design and web development here could save you time, headache and money.

Scenario 3: Your small business needs web design & development

In this scenario, your small business has a bigger budget ($2000+ for example).

In this case, you could search for a designer that can create a custom and unique theme for you.

Then you would take that theme and pay a developer to implement the design. 

Or you could look for a company (like Brandwell Studio), who could help you do both within your budget.

Final Words

So, there you have it: the difference between a web designer and a web developer. As I have said many times, knowing the difference between the two can help save small business owners time, headaches, and most importantly, money.

I hope this explanation helped you as a small business owner. If so, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me if you have any questions or with feedback on how we can improve content like this.

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