Understanding the difference between website design and website development is best done at the start of the process; even before the contract is signed.
There are so many times we have seen clients come to us out of frustration because of a previous website development project that did not go as expected, or because the website is not performing as they hoped. Other times, the client is stuck in a position where they are not able to update the site themselves, they don’t know where to access the backend for updates, or even where the site is being hosted. And, at other times they’re upset because the site functionality isn’t working, or was just incomplete. There are so many things that could go wrong if you don’t understand the process or the players, or if you don’t have clear expectations. This is just one of the reasons we think it’s extremely important for consumers to understand, who the players are and their roles.
So, what is the difference between Website Design and Website Development or Programming?
Before you can understand the difference between website design and website development, you need to understand the roles of those individuals who will most likely be involved in developing your website. Knowing the difference between a designer vs. a developer can help you better understand their individual responsibilities, experience & expertise and can set more clear expectations. It can also highlight potential shortcomings or missing components during the whole process.
A web designer is the creative leader behind website design. Designers are graphic artists who take the responsibility of stylizing layouts and objects within a visual concept of your website. They might know a little about basic HTML, WordPress theme customization, or even SEO strategies, but their main function is design, and therefore will be able to provide limited assistance or consultation beyond their design expertise. Think of a website designer as a kind of architect in the digital realm.
Additional Team Players in Design & Development
In addition to the main developer there are a number of additional players (or sub-contractors) with their own unique niche expertise who can help create a cohesive and strong web development process. These team players are important to keep in mind when you’re looking at working with an agency or if you’re coordinating experts in your new website design going forward.
Graphic developers take their instruction from the website designer. Where the overall concept is pulled together by the web designer, the graphic developer may be charged with creating individual graphic files for the programmers to use within the website development process, or in another coordinated effort that strengthens a client’s brand; such as brand/logo development, social media skin design work, business cards, or digital ad designs.
Content creators are charged with making sure your website content is unique to you, grammatically correct, and keeps the subject on point to the reader. Content writers often work with your designs, developers, and SEO consultants to make sure they’re scheduling appropriate content to cover those key ares of your website, and that the content is not only copyright-free, but also properly optimized at time of publication.
SEO consultants work with your designers, developers and content creators or writers to insure the site is structured for a strong SEO initiative, avoids any SEO pitfalls that could get you demoted or missed by the search engines, and that everyone is using best practices and techniques to ensure future SEO strategies can be easily adapted or implemented when the time comes.
Programming specialists are experts that may be pulled into a project where unique programming skills are need outside of the realm of the lead developer. Examples of this may be the API integration of a third-party software such as CRM database cross-point, e-Commerce programming, or IDX solutions in real estate. And, these are just a few of the examples.
Website launch or migration experts are individuals with a unique expertise and understanding of server configuration and languages. These experts can assure a smooth, proficient, and successful launch of completed website concept to a live server and domain. Additionally, they are useful in packaging sites to move from one server host to another, or troubleshooting server load challenges.
Finally, it’s often helpful if you have someone ‘conducting the orchestra’, and overseeing everything. The role of this person is referred to as the project manager. In terms of construction, you can think of them as the foreman. The project manager oversees all production and makes certain each of the team members charged with the development of your website in some form is working together and covering all the bases. They keep the other ‘players’ on track with individually charged tasks, and ensure the project is running smoothly and proficiently.
There are many moving parts to consider when it comes to website design and development. Understanding the difference between website design and website development, as well as understanding the various roles that will be participating in your project to help you reach your goals can alleviate undo stress, reduce complications, and set reasonable expectations in terms of service, abilities, and timelines. It’s not uncommon that many professionals will have cross-team knowledge, and that’s okay, as long as they have the experience and resources, and are able to articulate the process to you clearly. At the end of the day, website design has everything to do with the aesthetics of a website, and website development has everything to do with the code and physical construction of the site to bring it to life and function appropriately.
Remember! When you interview an agency or an individual for any upcoming website project(s), make sure to look beyond the quote and find out what that quote entails in terms of workforce and expertise. Where do you have to fill in the blanks? Is their process covering all moving parts, or are they focused mainly on on particular facet: design, code, or content, etc.? In addition to understanding the physical components of what’s included, don’t be afraid to ask “who will be working on my project?” And, make sure you have a complete understanding of the expectations of any project; remembering expectations is a two-way street.
Finally, take note that our explanation of understanding the difference between website design or website development did not include hosting, on-going maintenance, or security services. Many times the client assumes the web designer or developer has an on-going obligation to keep the site up to-date and secure. This is not the case. Nor, is it the responsibility of a standard, low-cost hosting service either. You will want to invest in website manager or maintenance and security service like our B2B WordPress Hosting & Security Maintenance services.
For more information on solid WordPress website or blog designs, or inquiries on how to give your existing digital sitemap a fresh look to online traffic to your website, give Back2Basics a call today at 763.951.3913.