Many of the sites out there were created by a Web Designer, in Photoshop, and migrated into a CMS like Drupal, WordPress, or some other package. This may work for most websites, but the infrastructure of these platforms are full of design issues and bugs. They also are prone to Hacker attacks or implode on themselves if you mess with the template you are using. I mean don’t get me wrong, these sites look great but the performance is terrible, and the payload delivered to the user is quite large. You can tell these sites by the large images, heavy animations, and the lack of real content on the site. How many times have you gone to a site, scrolled to the bottom, and said to yourself “Where is the content the search engine said was here?”.
Then we have the Web Programmer sites that look like they are stuck in the 1990’s design wise, but load fast and have small payloads sent to the user. Functionally these sites work well and are bug free, but the look of them is not very pleasing. These sites also tend not to stay within current web standards.
The last group designed by Web Developers look great and function well. They tend not to have the same look and feel as the “Classic Bootstrap Clones” or “Infinite Scrolling” you see out there. They have a clean unique look to them, and are bug free. They also tend to have a great user interface, stay within web standards, and are SEO friendly.
With that being said, we will look at the 3 types of programmers who develop these sites.
This person typically can create outstanding “wow effect” graphical layouts. Not really interested in web standards as long as the design stays as true as possible. Familiar with Adobe design suite and or other graphic tools. May know basic HTML/CSS but has no knowledge of server side or dynamic scripting. May or may not have a copy of Dreamweaver that will only get them in trouble.
This person is typically a true jack of all trades of sorts. They are a hybrid of both the Web Programmer and Web Designer and not just posing as one or the other. They care about standards, clean code, clean design, best practices, and latest trends in general web design, scripting and development. Web developers also typically have the ability to manage the DNS, Hosting, Email creation, server administration, etc.
I hope this clears up any issues you may have when looking for someone to develop your next website or application. I also hope this helps people wanting to pursue a career in one of these fields. In my experience, web developers make the absolute best team leaders because they have solid understanding of design, and programming as well as the end result and can also take a step forward for marketing purposes as well.
Typically, pure designers/programmers only care about their “part” of the job. A web developer cares about the entire scope of the project. When making your hiring choice, make sure you ask the right questions and don’t get stuck with “I’m not a programmer”, or “I’m not a designer”. A web developer will more than likely respond with something along the lines of “I can handle most of the design and programming and get your site from inception to launch without much need of outside help”.