You’re thinking of getting a new website – awesome! Whether you’re opening a new business or you’ve outgrown your old website, it’s worthwhile keeping your web presence up-to-date and fabulous.

Most people know WordPress as one of the most popular web development platforms. In fact, 43% of ALL websites are on WordPress. This means that, for you, it’s always so easy to find help and guidance on anything WordPress related (there are, quite literally, millions of tutorial videos!) It also means that if you need to move web agency, for whatever reason, you can do so easily.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen websites built with a ‘custom content management system’, i.e. a backend management system that only the web developer who created it truly knows how to use–this means you’re reliant on them for changes, and it’s difficult to move providers.

Not good.

WordPress is trusted around the world

Whereas WordPress is used around the world to create websites, blogs and e-commerce sites – and since it’s open source (meaning the code’s freely available to see and adapt) anyone can use it.

Sounds great, right?

But it’s not as simple as pressing a few buttons and getting a website.

WordPress is quite a learning curve for a beginner. That’s why I’m upfront and honest with business owners. If you’re setting up a brand new business and you want something quick and easy to begin with, you may be better with Wix or Squarespace to get you going.

In fact, many of my clients come to me having outgrown the websites they designed themselves on Wix or Squarespace.
If you’re using WordPress and want a well-functioning, well-designed, high-converting website, then you need a professional.

The question is: where should you turn?

You’ll likely find plenty of web designers and web developers offering their services. What’s not always so clear is that – although the terms are used interchangeably – there’s a difference between a web designer and a web developer. Which should you choose?

Website developer vs designer: what’s the difference?

A website designer is… well, a designer! They take care of how the website looks. That means they make the designs, layout, and graphics visually appealing.

For instance,

  • Is it easy for a visitor to see where to click next?
  • Does the look of the site fit with the rest of your branding?
  • What functions should the site have?

These are the kinds of things a web designer will focus on.

A website developer is a more technical role. They’re responsible for coding your website, building it well so it’s robust and functions properly.

Web devs focus more on the behind-the-scenes stuff. The parts of your site you probably never even think of. Until things go wrong and your website stops working, that is – nightmare.

Web design and web development go hand-in-hand. Together, they create a website that works for your business.

So that’s the basic overview of what makes a web designer and a web developer different, now let’s dig deeper…

What’s a WordPress website developer?

A WordPress website developer is someone who uses coding and programming skills to build and maintain a website.

Web developers need deep technical understanding to perform tasks like configuring servers and databases, and interfacing them with features that site visitors will need to use. A web dev will also test and fix any problems – known as de-bugging – to make sure your site functions as it should.

Once your website’s live, a web developer will provide support and maintenance to fix any issues that arise.

What skills and expertise do web developers have?

The key skill a web developer needs is expertise in programming. They’ll use programming languages such as PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build sites and make sure they function well.

Web developers tend to specialize in two or three languages, depending on the type of work they do.

Amazingly, many web developers are self-taught. This is no bad thing – it means they’ve got bucketloads of hands-on experience and have learnt loads of problem-solving skills from doing the job.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Website development is still relatively new, and many colleges didn’t offer courses in it until twenty years ago.

Advantages of hiring a WordPress website developer

  1. Get custom functionalities and features for your website
    Need a swanky feature that you can’t get off the shelf? Then you need a web developer to create it for you.
  2. Keep website security tight and performance high
    Speed and safety shouldn’t be scrimped on. Web developers make sure your site works quickly so you catch your visitors’ ever-shortening attention spans. Their work also helps protect you from cyber-attack, keeping your customers safe when they enter their details.
  3. Integrate complex projects and integrations
    Only a developer with plenty of programming experience will be able to bring together all the features you need on your site. They’ll make them integrate seamlessly with any other functions your business has, like bookings, stock holdings or CRM.

Possible disadvantages of hiring a WordPress website developer

  1. Potential lack of graphic design skills
    Web developers are great at what they do – writing and tweaking lines of complex code until it performs just the way you want. But though there’s a beauty in that, it doesn’t mean they can also make your website look good.
    For visual appeal, you’re going to need someone with style – like a web designer.
  2. Lack of knowledge of other important website elements, such as web copy or branding
    Website developers are experts at making a site function well. But they’re probably not branding specialists or copywriters. You’ll need to check the skills they have before expecting them to be able to do everything.

What’s a WordPress Website Designer?

A WordPress website designer takes the look of your business – your colors, your fonts, your style – and creates a website that’s 100% in line with your brand.

But it’s not just looking the part; a web designer will make sure it’s easy for your visitors to find what they’re searching for, too. AND they’ll give them a great experience along the way. This is known as User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) – they’re subtle but essential elements of web design.

What skills and expertise web designers need?

Web designers have shed loads of skills. Firstly, they’ll need a detailed knowledge of graphic design tools like Adobe Photoshop – they’ll be much more focused on how the website looks.

If they’re WordPress specialists, you can expect a web designer to be familiar with the WordPress CMS, themes, and page builders they’ll use to create visual consistency across your site. They’ll use these tools to build your website, so they generally won’t code from scratch.

A WordPress web designer will also need knowledge of UX and UI design principles. They understand that the way something looks – the size, color, position of a button, a link, or a text box – will influence how a visitor finds their way round.

Simply put, a web designer knows that if a visitor can use your site easily, you’ll convert them into a customer.

Advantages of hiring a WordPress website designer

  1. Ability to create visually appealing and engaging designs
    First impressions count. A web designer will make your site look professional, engaging and attractive.
  2. Enhances user experience and brand identity
    Hiring a web designer means your site reflects your brand look and your values. In other words, customers will know instantly whether they’re in the right place.
  3. Better website aesthetics and usability
    A web designer puts their focus on creating a site that looks good AND feels natural to use. It’s a skill that’s far harder than it sounds.

Possible disadvantages of hiring a WordPress website designer

  1. Sites can become slow and bloated
    Graphics and other design elements can look amazing, but if the site’s not built right, the size and the way they’ve been integrated can cause things to run slowly. And that’s frustrating for visitors.
  2. Potential to focus on the aesthetics rather than user experience
    Some web designers are specialists in the visual appeal, but don’t have so much expertise in UX. And while you want your site to look the part, if a web designer doesn’t also have development knowledge to bring UI and UX into it, you could miss out on sales.

Find specialists in both WordPress web design and development

Since website developers and website designers have such different roles, which should you choose to create your brand’s website? Deciding between the look and the function is impossible – you need your website to do both.

So it’s best to pick a WordPress web designer or developer with skills in each camp – design and development. With the best of both worlds, you can be sure you’ll get a site that reflects your brand’s look – and works seamlessly, so your visitors get the best experience of your brand.

Where can you find both WordPress web design and WordPress web development in one place? Luckily, that’s the easy part. At Potion Web Studio, we’re experts in both WordPress web design and WordPress web development!

We very much focus on the design, user-experience AND functionality of your website.

Get in touch to talk through your vision for your new website.