This is a question we hear a lot at Digital Bridge. Many people use the terms website designer and website developer believing they’re the same. In fact, the two are different, although they work closely together.
As a full-service web development agency, we handle everything from start to finish, so for our clients, it’s not an issue. However, because it can cause confusion, we think it’s worth explaining anyway.
How about we do it without the tech-speak and industry jargon?
What do web designers do?
They make your website look it’s glorious best.
Web designers are the creative minds who manage the visual elements of your website so it expertly communicates your brand and brand personality. Think of them like the visual merchandisers of your storefront or ‘shop window’. (This is what we call the ‘front-end’ of the site.)
Based on your client brief they manage things like:
Creating and developing your unique logo (or working with an existing one) and its application and placement on your website
Identifying fonts, font families and font combinations that best suit your products, services and brand personality.
Developing colour schemes based on an in-depth knowledge of colour theory.
In partnership with your web developer, they create your website’s hierarchy to ensure seamless, intuitive navigation of your site.
- Layout and content
Compartmentalising your content (copy, video, audio etc.) and organising it in an attractive and logical fashion.
Sourcing the right images (and if need be, adjusting them) to incorporate into your website to create a look and feel that’s right on-brand.
What do web developers do?
They build your website from scratch and make it work like a dream.
Web developers are the technical brains who work ‘behind the scenes’. They work on both the ‘front-end’ and ‘back-end’ of the project and build your website from the ground up.
Here are 5 key areas that website developers focus on:
Identify and develop the website structure so that information is presented in an orderly, logical way. The goal is to ensure users, both inside the business (staff/admins) and outside the business (clients/customers) find it easy to navigate and enjoyable to use. (A pleasant experience ensures customers linger, longer and visit again.)
- Technology and software
Determine which applications and software will deliver the best results for your website and business’s needs. Web developers are constantly testing and learning about the latest technological and software developments, so they can fast-track and simplify an otherwise confusing and complex process.
While this may sound like the previous point, it’s slightly different. Website functionality is certainly about usability, but it’s also about performance. Like site speed, so your pages load quickly; browser capability and compatibility so your site works with all browsers and platforms; reliability, so your user experience is consistently great, problem-free… and importantly, stress-free.
- E-Commerce websites
Again, there’s a crossover here, but e-commerce is a challenging area where user-experience directly affects sales and your bottom line! (That’s why we’ve given it a heading of its own.) For instance, if you need a website that works with PayPal, or another payment gateway your developer will make it happen. They’ll also ensure your website has logical, intuitive navigation, an easy-to-use shopping cart and super-fast order processing. Which ultimately delivers super-fast sales from super-satisfied customers!
- Testing and refinement
We website developers are a pernickety lot. We like things working just right—every time. And we hate surprises. We complete exhaustive tests on every area of your website, so every page loads perfectly, every button clicks cleanly and every hyperlink works well, fast, and goes where it should. (And that’s just the beginning).
What this means for your website
It’s a collaboration of creative and technical expertise in perfect harmony
The truth is, website designers and developers rely on each other. They’re interdependent. (No client wants a stunning website with poor functionality. Nor, a snappy website that’s dull as dishwater.)
Some agencies prefer to specialise on one specific area, while others (like Digital Bridge) offer full service web development; meaning everything is handled in-house for a smooth, seamless process. Which you prefer is up to you, but now you know who does what, your web development process will be far less confusing.
Digital Bridge is a Melbourne-based web development agency that speaks on ideas and is low on jargon. We specialise in designing, developing, and managing websites and web applications for people like you and, businesses like yours.