SMBs are always finding ways to save on operation costs. One way they do this is by having their IT staff create and manage the company’s website rather than hire a professional web designer or creator. From a business perspective, this makes sense as the abilities of IT staff or web developers can be similar to that of a web designer.
Your IT staff most likely have the ability to create a website. Still, there are certain elements that they may not be able to capture since they are not as well-versed in the areas of compelling design and marketing that websites need to engage their target audience. Let’s look into the difference between the expertise of an IT professional and a web creator in this article.
Web Developer Vs. Web Designer
While many companies may think that these professions are synonyms, they’re not. Rather, they are distinct, and while a web developer can dabble in web design and vice versa, each role has a specific skill set. These skill sets have their functions that work together to make your business website have an outstanding customer experience.
A web developer or IT personnel acts as the advisor and aims to combine elements that have been created for your website and turn them into code. This code includes the structure, design mock-ups, prototypes, and content copy. With that said, they have to work closely with web designers to create a customer-centric website that showcases your company’s services in the best way possible.
On the other hand, a web creator takes on the creative role of how the final website will look and focus on designing a digital interface that is appealing and effective to the customer. This design aims to lead visitors to accomplish the call to action, buying or subscribing to something.
These two work together very closely from the onset of the website design process to create the best user experience for customers visiting the website. Creating a tailor-made website that meets the customer’s and business’s goals and motivations are what will determine the design elements of the website. Then, approved design decisions are evaluated to assess their coding feasibility.
Types Of Web Developers
There are three main types of web developers, and each one has their own expertise to make sure end users get the best experience in terms of navigating and exploring your website.
A front-end developer is tasked with creating the feel, look, and interactive aspects of a website. Such elements include how the text, images, and colours are displayed on various devices. Front-end developers also make sure that small details like the buttons changing colour when you hover over them happen, or pop-ups appear seamlessly when something is clicked on a page. In short, they make the site organized, aesthetically pleasing, and above all, functional. To get these done, front-end developers write using a combination of the following program languages:
Back-end developers play a very crucial role in web design by creating and maintaining everything that keeps the site running and functioning properly. They write on what is called a server-side code which makes sure that data flows back and forth from where the user interacts (front-end) to the servers and databases where information is stored (back-end).
The back end is where all data, such as website images, prices, and transaction information, are kept. The goal is to write in codes that make the site easy to use and can be programmed in several coding languages depending on the purpose of your website. Back-end developers generally use the following programming languages and databases:
- Ruby and Ruby on Rails
Full-stack developers are highly experienced experts in the field of website programming and can work with both front-end and back-end development. They can create a dynamic and functioning website on their own with a high understanding of both ends of web development. Full-stack developers know a variety of programming languages and provide a wide range of expertise during the website development process.
Types Of Web Designers
UX designers consider the user-centricity of a website. During their web design process, they employ the why, what, and how methods. The “why” aims to determine what motivates customers to browse through website content based on their values and views. The “what” addresses the functionality and features the website offers geared towards a seamless customer experience. The “how” gives website visitors the accessibility and aesthetics they look for in a company’s website that they can appreciate.
Accomplishing this process of web design requires UX designers to either work closely with marketing people to understand visitor behaviour and preference or they must have their own understanding of the target market to appeal to their tastes. Ideally, a UX designer will have some experience in promoting a business brand and advertising.
UI designers are more focused on the visual experience of the project that a website will have and how the visitor will interact with the interface. The key here is to create seamless navigation for the customer moving from one page to another. They need to take into consideration the thoughts of the user, including how they will react or perceive different colour schemes, typographies, and spacings.
The important role UI designers give is empathy towards website visitors. They need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and anticipate how they will interact with the elements on the website in a manner that feels natural.
Both UX and UI designers need to work closely together during the web design process to get into the thoughts of the customer. Only through close collaboration can they achieve the business website goals and create a supportive customer experience that caters to specific needs.
What Are The Required Skill Sets?
Now that we have gone through the difference between an IT personnel, or web developer, and a web creator, we can move to see what skills are needed to create an optimal business website. If your IT personnel comes with the skill sets listed below and can create a website based on your needs, then they can accomplish the task. If not, it may be best to look for a professional who specializes in web design.
Familiar With The Latest Design Tools
Like with any profession, having quality and reliable tools will make getting the job done easier, more efficient and result in a high-quality outcome. The same goes for a web creator. Visual creation software and applications are essential in creating a business site that clients can profoundly showcase to their customers.
While there is a plethora of web browser design options, applications like Photoshop, Sketch, and Mockplus are still the go-to for image processing and visual conceptualization. These are also the prime choices for icon creation and prototyping that make the process of work more streamlined.
Experience and Knowledge In SEO Best Practices
The process of creating a website also entails having the right content to fill it up. This content includes taglines, headlines, and blog posts that your customers can use to relate further to your business. All these content elements should work towards being SEO (search engine optimization) centric. In that regard, whoever is designing your website needs to have a knowledge of SEO best practices.
Many factors affect your site’s SEO ranking, like the quality of the content, inbound links, mobile phone support, download speeds, performance, and page loading speeds. With these factors in play, it is essential that the person you tap to create your website design can address all of these so your site can rank and be visible to potential customers.
An Eye For Aesthetic And Appealing Design
Site design and graphic design go hand in hand to create a space where customers can relate to the content and brand that is present to them. People like to browse through site pages and see pleasing visuals that appeal to their interests. The designer for your website should be able to create visuals designed for longevity that cater to the customer experience. These visuals are part of your brand’s character and show your values and services are one of a kind.
Basic Understanding of Business Branding And Marketing
The designer for your site should also have a basic understanding of business branding and processes. They should be able to create a site map that gives customers easy access to vital pages such as the home page, customer support page and content pages. This kind of marketing shows that your business can easily be connected through the website, making it easier for customers to trust and value your site.
Copywriting And Content Writing Ability
Copy and design work together to enhance the customer experience on your website so whoever creates your business site should know a thing or two about great writing and the brand you are fronting. As you go through the process of a web project, the copy will be edited multiple times to support the page layouts. Such a process can take time, so they need to work closely and frequently together to get it just right.
Website Management With A CMS
A CMS or content management system allows your business site to organize and update various pages. It can manage when you create blog posts and other business brand offerings like new products and updates to special sales and promotions. A content management system will streamline this process, making another great perk if the person creating the business site knows how to use it.
Putting it together, if your IT support has these essential skill sets, it is possible to give them the responsibility of site creation. A lot of web development and design can be learned and crossed over at certain points. But at the same time, looking into a more specialized professional may be necessary if your business site has very specific needs.
What Degree Do You Need To Design Websites?
Learning how to creatively and effectively get into web designing is a skill that can be understood by anyone, provided they invest enough time, effort, and patience in it. Digital design agencies these days do not look for fancy degrees but more on the experience and portfolio of those they hire. The same goes for businesses looking to market their brand through online means.
Even so, it can boost a portfolio for a designer to have certifications and courses included in their portfolio. If your business gears towards training IT support to also be capable of designing a website, you can venture into short or comprehensive courses online.
Should A Web Designer Need To Be Able To Code?
Getting straight to the point, a web designer does not need to know how to code. Still, it can have its perks when it comes to conceptualizing page designs; as mentioned earlier in this article, web development and creativity work hand in hand to create a great website that provides the best customer experience.
Most of the time, a client will opt for a full-stack developer; this way, they can make sure that the performance and design are in sync since it is managed and created by only one person. The process of creating a website that tailors perfectly to the customer experience is no easy feat, but it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. Besides, enhancing your skill set as IT support to include web design can only bring benefit to your credibility and experience.
How Can You Test Your IT Support Staff If They Can Design A Website?
The best way to test your IT support to see if they can handle website design is to have them work with website creation sites like WordPress. Wix and Squarespace. As a starting point, have them create a site map with examples of how the layout of each page will be—following that you can check if their idea has digital marketing best practices at its core.
Next, you can ask your IT support to create visuals such as headers and banners. This task will check how well they work with applications like Photoshop. You can start by providing them with stock photography related to your brand and giving them an idea of what you are looking for. Based on the outcome, you can determine their skill level in using the required tools to get the desired result.
Also, as they create a mock-up using design sites like WordPress and visuals with applications like Photoshop, make sure the overall customer experience is in line with what you had in mind for your site.
If you want your IT support to double as your web creator, be open to answering their questions and be ready to collaborate with them on the project closely.
Should You Hire A Freelancer Or Web Design Agency Instead?
Based on the capabilities you get from your IT support once you see how they work with website building platforms and design applications, then you can decide if they can be the one to create the website for you. If you need something more, your option is to either hire a professional freelancer or an agency. Deciding which to work with will be based on your needs.
Advantages Of Hiring A Freelance
A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and does not work with one specific business. Instead, they work with many clients at different times, often handling more than one project. Today, a majority of web designers are freelancers offering their services to several clients. If you hire a freelancer, make sure to check their work portfolio well and ask them for recommendations and testimonials from a previous client.
Lower Costs: Perhaps the most prominent perk of hiring a freelance is the low cost. Freelancers usually work from home, so there is no need for them to be at an office. This arrangement makes overhead costs much lower than that of an agency which usually includes the cost of staff and office space in their service fees.
Direct Involvement: One of the biggest complaints that businesses have about working with an agency is that their requests get passed around a lot before they get a final decision or answer. If you work with a freelancer, you have direct contact and involvement in the project, making the steps in creation easier. Since you are only dealing with one person, most of the time, the project can get done in fewer steps.
Up To Date: Freelancers rely on their reputation with clients to gain new business; because of that, they tend to stay updated on all the latest trends and tools. Doing so gives them an advantage over those working in agencies. With a freelancer, chances are they have the latest know-how and technology to get the job done more productively and efficiently.
Flexibility: Working with a freelancer is flexible since time does not have to be taken to delegate tasks to different members. The process of information being passed is eliminated. Plus, freelancers work on their own schedule, so if you have a tight deadline, you can coordinate with them to get it done in time, whereas an agency has set working hours.
Advantages Of Hiring An Agency
An agency consists of multiple professionals, usually each one having their own skill set and speciality. In an agency, client projects are done by a team, and services are spread out based on the specialization of each member.
Proven Experience: The best agencies will have a long list of happy clients to showcase to you. Since each member will have had experience before the agency, their combined expertise adds value to a project by giving more thought to each aspect you need for your site, ultimately creating the best customer experience.
Multiple Offerings: Since there will be more than one person involved, agencies can offer multiple services, which opens opportunities for a more creative approach. Agencies are a great choice if you want to keep your website needs all in one place.
Team Effort: Because agency professionals work in a team, they can get multiple projects done at once. This allows projects to be completed within the given timeframe you need. But, it may be slowed due to the need for constant coordination among members.
The Final Decision
As a business owner, the final decision as to whether or not your IT support agents can double as your web designers is up to you. Before making the final decision, see to it that you gauge their skills and capabilities as listed in the sections above. If you think they have what you need, then you can take steps to enhance their skills so they can be an all-round employee.
On the other hand, if you need something particular and specialized for your website, it may be best to look into more professional hires such as a freelancer or agency. With that, you can be assured that they can work with the necessary programs and tools with minimal need for constant consultations and approvals.
Overall the final goal of your business site should be to provide the best customer experience to visitors and showcase your brand in the best light possible. The steps in creating a customer-centric site with brand values in mind entail getting the best people on the project. To do this, you need to make sure that you have the right people to work with so you can get the best results.