Web Developer or Web Designer – Which should you choose?

Sunshine Coast web designer

Web Developer or Web Designer – Which should you choose?

When it comes to the development of a website there are many factors you need to consider and things you NEED to ask the designer or agency that you plan to engage to create your new website.

And the first to start with is, do you need a web ‘designer’ or a web ‘developer’?

Web Designer or Web Developer?

So without confusing you too much, these might sound like one in the same, but in actual fact, they are very different.

While a WEB DEVELOPER Can develop a website often from scratch, and usually have a good extensive knowledge of coding for more complex website development, a WEB DESIGNER will often be able to create a more practical website for the small to large corporate business that wants to present well. It is not unusual to find sites that are created by Web Developers to work very well, but often they will lack the pizazz and the general strategic functionality such as knowing how to layout the site with a call to action or entice people to click in a particular area of your site first. That requires the skills of a web designer, and usually one who has qualifications in graphic design to achieve a site that has the full wow factor and will make you stand out from the crowd visually.

And if you want a website that needs to blend in with your current branding and marketing material then you definitely want a web designer or web developer that has a background in graphic design. If your web designer doesn’t have a background in design and layout then I would recommend employing a graphic designer with User Experience (UX) design skills who can create a full mock-up of your site first in a web-specific application such as Adobe XD (the current standard for wireframing a site before development).

So ultimately it comes down to the kind of website you require…one with a lot of technical functions such as high-end database development and acts as an online business system, or one that represents your business as a marketing tool.

The majority of businesses usually opt for the ‘marketing tool’ option, rather than possibly spending a huge amount of money and time in a fully custom coded solution.

Who costs more, a Web Designer or a Web Developer?

In most cases, you’ll find a Web Developer will charge considerably more than a Web Designer, and that is usually due to the more complex skillset required to code a site.

Many Web Designers, particularly those with a background in graphic design, should be able to mock an entire standard size website up within a few hours in Adobe XD, making the creation of the website much quicker overall as you’ll be able to already see how the functionality will work, the design of the site overall, and even see how your general call to action elements will fit in with the site and your existing marketing. And of course, if you don’t have the required marketing downloads such as price lists or catalogs, you’ll need a graphic designer. A web developer usually knows very little about designing nice brochures.

A Custom Website or a Pre-Designed Theme?

So if you are having a website created by a web ‘developer’ you’ll probably find they will start from scratch and develop the entire website from the ground up, while many web designers will start with a pre-developed theme and customise the theme to suit your look and functionality.

Keep in mind a themed site is still actually created by a Web Developer initially. 

Which costs more, a Custom Coded Site or a Pre-Themed Template based site?

There can be pros and cons to both these options. For starters, a custom solution is most definitely going to cost you many times more than a themed site as the development time will take longer and they will most likely have plenty of bugs to iron out..

It’s a little like comparing a custom-built car from a dealer with your own touches added to it or asking them to create a custom vehicle for you. A custom car will take more time and money, and ultimately if something goes wrong, only one person can fix it!

If you go down the custom development road, ensure you have a good maintenance agreement and guarantee in place with the Developer before you start!

If you’re starting a site with a theme you’ll find the hard work is done, the majority of the bugs are already removed by the theme developer, and in most cases, if you web designer uses quality website themes such as those available for Magento or WordPress, in most cases they’ll already be optimised in size to work seamlessly with search engine optimisation plugins. So overall you’ll be up and running faster with a better result.

The biggest benefit of starting with a pre-developed website theme is the fact that most professional web designers will use a premium theme, which means that the theme developer will usually provide ongoing upgrades at no extra charge, so your website will remain current for many years to come, and the cost of any upgrades will be minimal. Pre-designed themes will also usually be compatible with the latest page builders, making the management of your content very simple, rather than having to contact your web designer to continually manage and update the site, saving you a lot of money in the long run.

For example, the Smartfish website is actually coming up to 9 years of age. In web design terms that is a dinosaur! Ut is rare to find a site created by a Web Developer from scratch that will endure a similar timeframe without major costly updates, and the fact is that many ‘local’ web developers hire teams of Indians to create their sites. The chance of finding the same developer to upgrade your site to remain compatible with popular operating systems and browsers even a few years from now is near impossible!

And one of the biggest benefits of using a themed website is that like any operating system, such as your computer, you know there is much less chance usually of weak coding letting in malicious bots or malware into your site. If the web Developer knows of any potential risks usually they will offer a patch or upgrade soon after, at no charge. Yout ‘web developer’ on the other hand probably won’t call you, and will probably charge you to upgrade it as around $150 to $200 per hour!

Can a pre-designed theme still provide a custom unique look?

Most certainly!. The quality high-end premium themes now come with plenty of initial options, but you can also utilise many additional plugins to give the website a completely different look and feel from the original site, with the big advantage over a ‘web developed’ site that you can quite literally change the entire look and feel of any element of the site, or the entire site in just a matter of minutes with the built-in editors. This also means that if you have a major redesign of your branding at some stage and need to update the site’s colour scheme to suit the logo, fonts and overall style, you don’t need to mess around with a web developer to spend hours practically rebuilding the site. A web designer can usually do it within a few hours.

On average, Smartfish can develop a website using a pre-designed theme as a base, in anywhere from a day for a small site to a few weeks, and this includes search engine optimisation, a training video, and a general maintenance agreement as standard.

We teach you how to manage your content, and even how to update the site functionality itself so that you should get a good 6 to 10 years life out of your website before a major reconstruction. And we build in the functionality to ensure your website will stay compatible with devices as they change. For example, our websites are already created to be compatible with folding dual-screen smartphones and even up to the largest, or smallest, monitors available now, and in the future.

So when it comes to planning your next website development, think about your overall requirements before choosing a web developer or a web designer, and always ensure they have a graphic design background as well,. You’ll find a big difference in the overall final result.

Smartfish have created close to 1000 websites and have over 25 years of graphic design experience, so when you need a professional web designer for a small single-page site, through to all your e-commerce solutions, make sure you contact us for the perfect website, designed and crafted by our local Sunshine Coast-based web and graphic designers….not foreigners!

Professional web designers will develop your site in-house. Those with lesser experience will often outsource, resulting in cheaper labour and cheaper quality sites.

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