Whenever we take on a new client for a website project, one of the very first issues we tackle is the question of design. Many clients use the terms “web designer” and “web developer” interchangeably, not really understanding that there is a big difference in skills associated with each of these jobs.
A web designer concerns her/himself with the front-facing parts of your website: how does it look to your customers? A designer is a creative type who works with you to distill your company’s message or brand identity, translates that into a visual concept, and then uses tools (like Adobe’s Creative Suite) to bring the idea to life in the form of an attractive and graphically appealing website. The best web designers also have a good understanding of website usability best practices, and know how to create navigational aids (e.g., menus) that make it fun and easy for your customers to browse your site.
A web developer is essentially a programmer – s/he concerns her/himself with whatever functionality needs to be built into the site according to the needs of the business and its website’s visitors. Contact forms, event calendars, image sliders – behind the scenes, coding is required to make all these things work. At a minimum, web developers know HTML and at least one scripting language, like PHP or ASP (WordPress is coded in PHP).
So, when we’re asked if we can design a website, we always have to qualify – we, ourselves, are not designers. The focus of our business is SEO – that is, getting your website in front of the right eyes – and when it comes to building websites, we fall more into the developer camp.
That’s not to say we can’t give you a great looking website! These days, there are so many pre-designed “themes” for almost every business niche. In WordPress parlance, a Theme is a set of page templates and style sheets that form the backbone of your website and determine the layout and styling elements.
WordPress Themes can be customized by tweaking the fonts, colors, logo and incorporating your own photos or graphic elements to give you website’s appearance a unique look. Using a premium theme to build a WordPress website is the most popular option among our clients. The main advantage of working with a predesigned theme is the cost. A good website designer will add, at a minimum, an additional $2K to a project budget – many of our clients simply don’t have the money for a custom design.