A web designer is responsible for the overall design of the website – how the site looks, how the navigation works, where the calls to action are placed and the building of the site itself.
A web developer or web programmer is responsible for the more interactive features of a website – an online store, a form that collects information from visitors, online registration, etc.
When looking for a web designer or web design firm you want to look at the persons’ portfolio. You want to see if some of their sites have clear calls to action, are logical and easy to navigate and load well. Also, marketing and/or information design experience are excellent skills for a web designer.
You’ll want to call a web developer or web programmer if you want to add an advanced feature to your site, such as a customized online store or live access to a large database of information. A web developer will often work with a web designer on the creation of the site, or can be brought in after a site is live to add a feature not originally included. If you are happy with your web designer — then ask them to refer you to a good developer.
Web developers generally work in a web “scripting” language, and the programs they create are called “scripts.” Scripting languages include PHP, ASP, Perl, Ruby on Rails (and many more). Web Developers also usually work with a database, which is an efficient storehouse of information that is linked to the application or script. Popular databases include MySQL, Postgress, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server and Access. Please forgive the gratuitous use of acronyms here – they’re just here to give you some ground to stand on when looking into a professional for your project.
Karen Nierlich is an internet marketing consultant with Full Orbit Web and Marketing (FOW). The firm consists of several web designers, web developers, a social media consultant, search engine optimization expert and project manager. The mission of FOW is to help small and medium size businesses use the power of the Internet to grow and thrive.