Web Designer, Web Developer, or Digital Marketer
Do you need to refresh or create a website from scratch? Obviously, you want that website to represent your brand, convey your value proposition, and attract your target audience. But custom web development can run up a tab that makes downtown rent look cheap. Luckily, your friend – or friend of a friend, or cousin’s husband, or the personable cashier at Starbucks – “has a web guy who’ll do your website.” For super cheap, too! Beware. A good web professional doesn’t do websites as a side hustle.
Which web professional do you need?
Do you need a web designer, web developer, or a digital marketer? These differ, like big-time! Figuring out their differences before you drop a load of cash can mean either ending up with a static digital brochure that lies dormant or a lasting digital strategy that drives your business for years to come.
Who do you hire? Before you start your project, understand the limitations and capabilities of the person you’re hiring.
Your company’s website is your online headquarters. It’s the all-encompassing resource for customers to buy your products, learn more about your services, and connect with your brand.
If your website is your digital storefront, then a web designer is like your interior designer. This person knows how to decorate your brand both functionally and aesthetically with color, shape, size, spacing, and other visual elements. Web designers make your website feel like your brand. They are also focused on keeping bounce rates low and customer conversion rates high through informed, strategic, user-friendly designs. They know how to make your website “pop,” which is every coffee-chugging creative director’s request. (Beware if demonstration sites actually “pop” with size-24 Comic Sans with the drop shadow and an alarming shade of purple.)
Think of the web developer as the person who built your building. This is like the general contractor who makes sure all the doors open correctly and that the building doesn’t flood. A web developer translates the designer’s layouts into an efficient, fully-functioning website. They ensure that your website not only works well on the outside, but also functions seamlessly and integrates with any third-party systems (such as a CRM) on the back end.
In order to understand which platform, hosting and integrations your site will need, a web developer should ask you tons of questions, including:
- Do you plan on blogging?
- Are you integrating any social media accounts?
- Are you planning on doing any PPC advertising that will require landing pages?
- Do you have an email newsletter?
- Do you want to collect email addresses on your website?
- Are you going to sell products on your website?
You’re probably already figuring out that very few “web guys” truly excel in both web design and web development.
Shameless plug for our web dev partners at Bluefire Interactive. If you want a site done right, they are our go-to resource.
Behind the curtain of any profitable and growing business is a savvy digital marketer who has likely guided the organization through a website build or redesign. The digital marketer examines the entire experience in a very purposeful way. They look at the design experience and the structure of the digital storefront to make sure customers can purchase from you easily. Think of digital marketers as the “architects” of a website’s overarching strategy and execution. They are the brains of the operation, responsible for everything from creating your brand voice to nitpicking micro-flaws that might hurt your site’s conversion rate.
Without a digital marketer onboard your website project, you will have major challenges with project management. Their absence also might mean you end up with a pretty website that fails to generate leads. You’ve seen those turbocharged websites–they look the 90s regurgitated. You can almost hear the AOL dial-up sound when you look at one. Without a digital marketer, you’re likely to get an all-round sucky website.
Bottom line– never forego consulting with a digital marketer about your vision for your website. A digital marketer’s insight will both inform the concept of the site and act as the quality control keeping your brand’s purpose at the heart of every feature.
How each web professional sees the world.
Before hiring, you need to know what crossover skills your web professional has. There are print designers and web designers. A good web designer will understand enough code to make sure their designs will translate well. We’ve come across a lot of gorgeous designs, but they would be so complex to code that it would make the site really slow to load.
There are also a lot of considerations in design work. For a quick test, I like to ask prospective web designers when they would use a png, jpeg, or svg file to get the highest resolution and lowest file size. It’s a super technical question, but if they can’t answer it, I’m not hiring them.
Seeing how the three positions approach things differently can help you understand each of them better. Here are a few general examples.
You might think blue is just blue, but these three roles see color very differently.
A designer is going to look at color and see thousands of shades of blue.
A developer will likely have 5-10 different shades that are their typical go-to blues.
Digital Marketers likely don’t actually see blue, just conversion makers. They may test a few colors and choose the shade that’s causing conversions.
A picture is worth a thousand words. But the three professionals also see pictures quite differently.
Designers are going to create gorgeous images that evoke emotion and are authentic to the brand.
Developers will see a 1200×628 px png with transparency that needs to fit into a 600px-wide spot on a page. In other words, they see something very functional.
Digital marketers tend to see a visual credibility marker that builds brand loyalty and drives conversions.
We realize it can all be a bit overwhelming and often technical. Bring someone on board to help you navigate your options and make sure you only pay for what you really need.
Got questions about your website?
We’re not here to sell you a website. We don’t do that. But we can help you troubleshoot your web design and structure, and we’ll assess what’s working and what’s not. Remember, your website is the hub for all your digital channels. When your ideal customers travel from one of those channels to your website, it should damn well be worth the journey. It should speak to them. It should be valuable. At a minimum, your website should be functional, on-brand, use original imagery, and have the right plugins.
We help B2B companies get control of more than just their websites. Sometimes a wonky website is only a symptom of more foundational issues. We help clients translate their strategies into the useful marketing tactics they need; not the ones that won’t do them any good. Of course, that includes websites. If you’d like to get some feedback on whether your website is structured to resonate with your target market, we’re here when you’re ready. Schedule a consult today.