Should you hire a separate website designer and developer?

This is going to be a strange post to write because, for the most part, I’ll be advising and recommending against what I, myself, do.

But, before I get ahead of myself …

 

What is the difference between the two?

A website designer works on the concept look of a website. His/her end product can only be used to help you decide on the look and feel of your website. This is usually either in the form of an image, using software like Photoshop or Illustrator, or even as a protoype, using online tools like InVision or Sketch.

What the website designer produces can then be used by the website developer who uses that work as a reference for coding the website. The end product of the website developer is what then becomes the usable and viewable website.

In other words, the website designer draws the plans to your specifications, as the client, and the website developer builds based on those plans.

Knowing that …

 

Can the two be one person?

For the most part, no. That’s like asking if an architect or draftsman can build a house just because they draw up the plans. It is difficult to specialise in so many different areas and still be competent in all.

When it comes to comparing website design and development, you’re looking at two vastly differing professions. One is strictly creative and the other involves dealing with logic and problem solving.

I see many graphic design students come out of college thinking web development is only knowing some HTML and CSS. That’s not the case. With the long list of different programming languages, libraries and frameworks out there, it takes years of study, practice and hair-pulling to master all of that.

 

So, that’s it then?

Not exactly. Like I said before, “for the most part” the two cannot be catered for by the one person.

So, why do I do it and why do I believe I can?

I’ve been working in Graphic Design for the past 12 years and in programming and web development for the past 15 years. I’ve used over 11 programming languages, not including the extra frameworks / libraries and I am continually learning.

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t like I will take on just any project and hope for the best. There are many cases where I will hand parts of a project over to people who are more specialised and more competent than me.

 

In Conclusion

The original question is to the client, who should you hire? My response would be to do your research. How many experience does this person have in both fields? Are they a good designer? Are they a good developer?

Don’t be bullied into hiring a jack-of-all-trades. Any designer or developer who isn’t willing to give you time for a peace of mind should not be trusted. Always always ask to take time to consider your options. A professional who is confident with their skills will be more than glad to give you time to see more proof of their competence.

Happy Hiring!

Don’t Count the Years; Make the Years Count

How long has it been since you scrolled through a list of job ads? Go to your favourite job seeking site now and take a look at a handful. Do you see a pattern?

Chances are, most, if not all, of those job ads ask that the applicant have some number of years experience in a similar role. It seems legitimate, right? If you’ve been doing something for a certain amount of years, you should have that many years’ worth of experience. Simple maths, right? Wrong.

Before I changed professions to do Graphic Design, I worked in Engineering Consultancies for 12 years. During that time, I noticed how quick the years pass and, before you know it, those jobs you could never apply for before because of that one condition “3 years in a similar role” are jobs you’re suddenly over-qualified for. But, are you really? Are you really over-qualified or do you just have a number of years under your belt?

I put myself under a strict self-review and realised that in a 6 month period that I had really applied myself, I had learnt so much more and progressed much further than a whole year preceding it. Of course, having someone from whose experience I could learn helped a great deal; but, the fact of it still remains. It’s easy to go on auto-pilot mode and let the years count while your progress remains stagnant. In that case, you may have worked for 5 years in a role but your real experience and growth only amount to 4, or even 3.

Was it just me, though? I entertained that thought in my mind and reviewed those I was working with. Some colleagues had great mentors around them; but, rather than learn and leech information and knowledge from them, they were piggy-backing off their experience. Let me rephrase that but in plain English; rather than use every opportunity to gain knowledge from those more experienced than them, I noticed some people weren’t solving problems themselves but opted to have others spoon-feed them information and direct them every step of the way. Here I was helping someone with double my years in experience. Did that make me smarter? Not so much. It just meant that I made my years count a little more.

That’s what I want to leave with you. Don’t count your years but make those years count. Use every opportunity to grow, to learn, to give value to your experience.

How, then, do I propose that employers look for candidates? That’s a topic for another post.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments below.