Friday, May 30, 2008

What you need to know before contracting a web designer or developer

We learned a lot over the last few years about the do’s and don’t when dealing with a web designer. We had some real problems. I would like to keep others from having the same or similar problems. The first thing you need to understand is that there is a big difference between a web designer and a web developer. A web designer will make pages for a web site and are wonderful if you have an information site. Web developers create the coding and programs that web designers use to create the web sites. Web design is the icing on the cake; the web developer made the cake the icing goes on.

If you are doing anything that is more then just an information site I recommend going with a web developer or learn to do it yourself. If you have just an information site that does not require the integration of other programs like a shopping cart then a web designer is the right person to go to. However, if you have the time and inclination you can also pick up a great book called “Beginning HTML with CSS and XHTML modern guide and reference” by David Schultz and Craig Cook. My husband used it to create our new web site.

There are some wonderful web developers who can integrate existing programs and software into the pages they create for you. The main purpose of a web designer is to design the look of your website and that the programs being used on your site function well together. The more complex the site is the more knowledge and experience will be needed. You need to understand what you want and need your web site to do before you design how it looks.

This means that you need to find out if pre-existing programs will work for you and will work together with any other programs you want. If they do then great find a web designer, buy the programs and let the designer make your site look and work how you want it to. If there needs to be a lot of tinkering with the programs you are interested to make them work the way you want and together then you need to make sure your web designer can do the work, or find a web developer who can make them work or create a new program that will do what you want. Do not assume that a designer can do it; their job is to design the look of the site, not create programs.

That is the biggest thing most people do not know, a designer creates the look, a developer creates the programs and can create the look you want. We made that mistake thinking that a designer was a developer. We needed a developer as our site was more complex then what our designer could do and he used up our service contract with our shopping cart program provider to get them to do the installations of their programs. We know this from the from our shopping cart provider after we forced our designer to transfer our shopping cart licence to us. We now have to buy a new service contract if we need their help with the shopping cart program. This would not have been the case if we had hired a web developer. Know what you need for your website and hire the right person for the job.

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