Web designer and a web developer – What's the difference?
If you’re thinking about getting a website built you’re probably in the process of looking for a Brisbane based web design company – or perhaps you’ve spoken to a few people and they’ve talked to you about their website developer or ‘my website designer did this for me’’ etc and you may be asking yourself, what’s the difference between a website developer and a designer?
These two words might mean the same thing to many people, but it may change the course of a web design project depending on what you get. Here at Marketeam we’re big on empowering businesses to get the best out of any web design company they use (hopefully it’s us!) so we think differentiating these two types of people, personalities and skill sets is important as it can totally change the end result of your website design.
Obviously everyone will have a different personality whether they’re a designer or a developer however, there’s a few personality traits for each profession we’ve seen over the years that tend to be a good guide, generally. This is by no means a hard and fast list but it will help give you an idea of the types of personalities you can generally expect from a designer or developer.
Web Designer Personality
Typically a web designer is someone who sits more on the ‘creative’ side of the fence. They’re what you would call an “Explorer” if you’re breaking it down from something like 16 Personalities. They’re not afraid to take risks and are usually happy to explore lots of different avenues for their clients.
Generally a website designer will have the following personality attributes:-
- They’re creative
- They’re energetic
- They’re cheerful
- They’re talkative
- They’re spontaneous
- They’re happy to think outside the box
- Are great with thinking about the ‘big picture’
So a website designer will be a great person to speak with about your grand plan, your target and the overall approach as to how you’re going to get there. They’re great for talking about how your website is going to look and how the branding will come together.
The downfall of dealing with someone with this personality type is that they can become bored easily, or dislike long term, large projects as creative people sometimes tend to like the new and interesting. As long as this is managed it won’t be an issue, but it’s something to be aware of.
Web Developer Personality
Now a web developer can be a different beast altogether to a designer. Usually a developer is someone that deals more with code, coding languages and the backend of websites so they’re usually looking for things to be a little more ordered and like to approach things with lists and plans. If you were going to categorise their personality type they would fall more into the “Analyst” type of personalities.
Generally a web developer will have the following personality attributes:-
- They’re quick
- They’re imaginative
- They’re confident
- They’re hard working
- They’re analytical
- They’re great for putting together a detailed plan for things
- Will easily follow a list, but might not ‘get’ the big picture
Web developers are an important part to any project but it’s important to know that because they look at how everything is going to be put together, they look at your website project from the perspective of how it’s going to be built and be focused on functionality and how that’s going to affect the backend.
Because of this approach, developers can sometimes get bogged down in nitty gritty details and can fail to take a step back to look at the bigger picture or think of a simple alternative for things.
As you can see there’s quite a bit of difference when it comes to web developers and web designers. Ultimately you want to choose a company that has a mixture of both of these types of personalities as that will help you to develop a big picture approach with the expertise to put those ideas into a plan and get things done.
Here at Marketeam we’ve worked hard to combine these personality types to ensure all our Brisbane website design projects have a combination of marketing magic, strong structure and are built in the best possible way.
Once you’ve figured out the personality type you need for your project it’s time to figure out what skills you might need from your web design company to ensure your project runs on time and on budget. Please note this is not an exhaustive list of skills that someone might have and it’s a general guide only.
A Web Designer’s Skillset
Usually a website designer will have a skillset that enables them to conceive, create and put together a website for you. This will include graphical elements, editing or manipulating pictures and images and adding these elements to a website or content management system.
Here’s a rough guide of the skills a web designer will most likely have:-
- Graphic design skills
- Visual design skills
- User experience or UX design
- Copywriting or SEO skills
- Ability to use a content management system like Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal
- Ability to use a templating system like Gantry, Warp or Genesis
- HTML skills
- CSS skills
- General knowledge about domains, hosting, email setup, bootstrap and responsive design, etc
The great thing about working with a web designer is they will be able to visualise what you’re trying to acheive, be able to help you with marketing ideas and put something together that will be visually amazing and will help to move your business forward.
The downside is the sometimes web designers are lacking in the technical understanding of website development so may not be overly security conscious (i.e they might install plugins, modules, widgets or components to your site that have security implications) and may not have the technical chops to fix issues with bugs or error messages on your site. This will depend on their skillset and what mixture of skills they have.
A Web Developer's Skillset
Now a developer will certainly be able to put together a website for you but it might not have the graphical flair or unique design that a web designer might be able to offer you – however, they will have a much better understanding of how the backend should be put together, website security and server environments.
Here’s a rough guide of the skills a web developer will most likely have:-
- HTML skills (will include html5)
- CSS skills (can include CSS3 and SCSS)
- Proficient in a language like PHP, C# or Python
- Deep understanding systems like Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal
- Knowledge about SQL databases and will know how you use phpmyadmin or another database interface
- Ability to use a templating systems like Gantry, Warp or Genesis and understand how they’re put together
- Will know about Servers, Apache, IIS, etc
The great thing about working with a developer is that they’ll be able to figure out how something is going to be put together and if you want a piece of functionality for your website that’s not currently available, they might be able to build it for you.
Developers (or programmers) are great at following lists and building something to a specification however they can sometimes look a little too narrowly on projects and can forget to take a step back and see how changes or bits of functionality might affect the overall cost, usability and timeframe of a project.
The downside of a web developer is that they may not have any marketing experience and whilst they can build you a site that works the way you want it to, they may not have the experience or confidence to tell you the idea is terrible or might be a waste of time and money.
Luckily here at Marketeam we have a great combination of technical, graphical, marketing and SEO experience which puts us in the sweet spot of skills you need to run a successful web design company and build awesome websites for your customers.
Now we’re going to jump into the different tools you might find each of these people using. Again, everyone will have their own personal choices and preferences when it comes to the tools they use to do the job. It’s also quite likely that different tools can do the same job just as well (a ball-peen hammer and a claw hammer will still bang in a nail).
Tools used by a web designer
Because a web designer will usually be more of a ‘creative type’ it’s likely they’re going to have tools to match. Here’s a quick rundown of the types of programs and tools you could expect a web designer to have:-
- A Mac computer
- A love of coffee and cafes
- Adobe Illustrator (for creating vector art)
- Adobe Photoshop (also for creating graphical elements and manipulating photos)
- A coding program like Dreamweaver, Notepad++ or an online service like Codeanywhere
- An FTP program like Filezilla or CoreFTP
- A preferred browser like Safari, Firefox, Chrome or (sorry IE Edge, you just don’t cut the mustard!)
- A host of online tools like Picmonkey, Dirty Markup or the unclosed tag finder
There’s going to be a whole bunch of tools that people use and this will depend on budget, the company they work for, the type of computer they use and a whole bunch of other factors, but this will give you a general idea of the types of tools a web designer will use on a day to day basis.
Tools used by a web developer
Because developers tend to get their hands dirty on code a little more than a designer will, their tools tend to reflect this a little more. The types of tools a developer would typically use are:-
- Mac or PC (many even use both)
- A love of coffee and usually headphones (helps to concentrate)
- A coding program or IDE like Codeanywhere, Cloud9 or Visual Studio
- A link checker like Xenu link sleuth
- SSH program to log into servers
- A preferred browser like Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera
- A knowledge of the developer tools in browsers
- Knowledge of tools like GTMetrix, Pingdom, Pagespeed Insights and MXToolbox
- An FTP program like Filezilla or CoreFTP
- A development platform like Github for version control
- Google Webmaster Tools account
- Plugins and browser add ons to speed up repetitive tasks
- Various devices for testing
Every developer will have different tools depending on what they’re building, the language they’re coding in and the project they’re working on but in general, these are the types of tools a web developer will use on a regular basis.
The final word
As we’ve mentioned many times throughout this article, this isn’t an exhaustive list and we realise there will be many variations to the tools that web developers and web designers use but hopefully this has given you a good idea of the personality types, skillsets and the tools that are used for each.
If you’re looking for a web design company in Brisbane that has design, marketing, development and search engine optimisation skills (everything we’ve been talking about in this article) then be sure to give Marketeam a call on (07) 3882 3375 today to talk about your next web design project.