If you have decided on WordPress as your platform of choice for your new or redesigned website, your next step is hiring someone to build it for you. But browsing around online, you come across competing terms: WordPress designer vs. WordPress developer.
Is there a difference? Does it matter? How do you know which one is for you?
We are going to answer all of those questions and more in this post. With a decade of experience in both development and design, the team at Masters of Digital is here to help you make an informed decision on the best direction for your business.
- WordPress Designer Vs. Developer at a Glance
- Why Does It Matter?
- What is a WordPress Designer?
- What is a WordPress Developer?
- Which To Hire: WordPress Designer or WordPress Developer?
- Call On Masters of Digital for All of Your WordPress Design and Development Needs
WordPress Designer Vs. Developer at a Glance
Let’s start with a quick overview of the two professions to clear up some of the biggest confusions. Later in the post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at each of them individually.
- Both are skilled in WordPress, the most popular website platform in the world.
- Either can be hired to “build” a website.
- Developers and designers can—and often do—work together in order to complement each other’s skill sets.
- It’s possible for one person (or agency) to both design and develop a website.
- Designers are concerned more with planning the user experience.
- Developers build the website to implement the designer’s plan.
- Designers can get by with little or no knowledge of coding.
- Developers must have in-depth coding experience in order to customise a site.
- Designers specialise in visual elements like colour, branding, button style and fonts.
- Developers specialise in backend concerns like security, page load speed, site migration and mobile optimisation.
Mobile-friendly sites show up higher in search results. Mobile searches make up more than half of searches on Google.com. – Google
Why Does It Matter?
As you can see, even without getting into a lot of detail, the differences between WordPress developers and designers are significant. The main reason that you need to understand the difference is so that you can hire the right person to meet your needs.
If you hire too quickly or without enough consideration, you run these risks and more:
Your site won’t scale with your growth. A good website should be able to handle more and more visitors as your business grows. Unfortunately, if yours was built by a WordPress designer who didn’t take into account elements like hosting limitations and coding efficiency, it might crumble under the pressure of your business’s success. A professional Melbourne WordPress developer, on the other hand, knows how to build a site that scales.
Your site will cost more than it needs to. Some websites really don’t need all that much in the way of customisation. Maybe you run a small brick-and-mortar retail store and just want an online presence to share your hours of operation and latest sales. In this case, the cost of hiring a WordPress developer might not be worth it to you, and a simple one page template website could do just fine.
Your site will run slowly. Since WordPress designers aren’t usually very familiar with the back-end programming that goes into a site, they might not consider how something like bloated code can slow things down. Similarly, since they focus more on visual elements, they may use uncompressed images that take way too long to load for your users. A developer looks out for these sorts of issues, which is why the two tend to work hand in hand.
Your site won’t convert visitors into customers. WordPress developers are code wizards. They can push the platform to the limits and customise your site to do things that are completely unique. However, developers don’t always have a keen eye for aesthetics. If you hire a developer without any input from a designer, you might end up with a site that functions smoothly but isn’t actually attractive to customers.
Building an online presence is the best way to make sure customers can find you and learn what you have to offer. – Business.vic.gov.au
What is a WordPress Designer?
A WordPress designer can be thought of as the architect of a website. They listen to your needs and then make a detailed blueprint of what your users’ online experience will look like. This may involve everything from creating a website concept to choosing button colours and page transitions.
Does a WordPress Designer Need Coding?
Most WordPress designers have some knowledge of coding, though they can theoretically get by without any. A designer’s level of coding expertise is usually limited to making ad hoc changes in order to get some web element to perform correctly. Therefore, they will typically have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS, but may not have the experience to understand how little changes to code might impact the page or site on a larger scale.
What are a WordPress Designer’s Skills?
- This is the process of sketching out the user experience throughout a website. WordPress designers use wireframes in order to predict and plan for all the ways your customers will navigate your site.
- Designers are tasked with planning out the visual elements of your site. While they usually aren’t graphic artists, they may work with one in order to create unique elements (such as transitions, frames and icons) that make your brand story come out loud and clear.
- Building from templates. Beyond just planning the website, many WordPress designers can also actually build it too. However, since their knowledge of coding is limited, these sites are usually restricted to WordPress templates without customisation. You can learn more about this in our guide to the difference between a custom built website and a template website.
What is a WordPress Developer?
If a designer is the architect, the WordPress developer is the builder. Traditionally, the developer is the person responsible for putting the designer’s website plan, concept and wireframe into action.
Does a WordPress Developer Need Coding?
What are a WordPress Developer’s Skills?
- Developers can build custom WordPress themes, elements and even web apps. This is one of the primary reasons to hire a developer over (or in addition to) a designer. They allow you to make your website stand out above the vast sea of template sites overflowing the internet.
- API integration. APIs allow you to integrate third-party software into your WordPress site. For example, your developer can make your website contact form speak directly to your customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing platforms.
- Website security and reliability. Developers are charged with ensuring that the designer’s plan comes to life in a functional way that doesn’t compromise the safety of your users. They optimise information security, website uptime and page load speed.
Websites are not a ‘set and forget’ exercise – you’re going to need an ongoing, mutually beneficial business relationship with your website designer/developer. – Victoria Government
Which To Hire: WordPress Designer or WordPress Developer?
Now that you understand what each job entails, you can better decide which one is right for you. The following tips might make your choice a little easier.
Hire a WordPress designer if…
- You want your website to put your brand’s best foot forward.
- You don’t have a good idea of how your website should be laid out.
- You want to maximise website conversions.
- You can settle for a relatively simple website without many customisations.
- You don’t imagine your online traffic growing much in the next several years.
Hire a WordPress developer if…
- You require a highly customised website with unique integrations.
- You need to prioritise information security (e.g., you collect user data or payments online).
- You want to ensure your site is mobile-friendly and fast loading.
- You expect significant business growth or change in the next several years.
As you can see, for a lot of website builds, you actually need both skill sets: design and development.
You need a WordPress designer to ensure that your site is user-friendly, well-branded and built for conversions. You need a WordPress developer to ensure that it is customisable, scalable and efficient.
While there are certainly cases in which you only need one professional or the other, every website requires elements of both design and development. This is why many business owners opt to work with an agency rather than a freelancer. That way, you don’t have to rely on a single individual’s skill set to bring your website to life.
Call On Masters of Digital for All of Your WordPress Design and Development Needs
Masters of Digital has expert WordPress designers and developers on staff so that your website will have everything it needs to function properly and look good doing it. We are here for all of your WordPress needs—whether that’s simply wireframing a website concept or building a fully customised site from scratch.
Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help your business grow with a beautiful online presence.