Look and Feel Hooks the Visitor
Your website literally has only seconds to make a good impression on your site visitor. Whether they realize it or not, people surfing the Internet are quick to judge. They are ready to jump ship – so to speak – at a moment’s notice. That is precisely why you need to know if your web professional has design skills.
Web designers have the skills and knowledge it takes to create attractive layouts and color schemes that lead the site visitor through the material on the page in a predetermined manner. By using a variety of design techniques, design professionals draw attention to specified areas of the web page according to a hierarchy. So, if your website had a primary goal of signing up members for a newsletter and a secondary goal of contacting you with questions, the web designer would design the web page to draw the attention of the visitor to those areas of your site in that order.
As you can see, the designer’s skill set is directly related to keeping you visitor on the site and directing attention to the proper place. Accomplishing this in a subtle manner takes creativity, something that designers possess in abundance.
Functionality and Ease of Use
Keeping someone on your website is great, but if they have a hard time getting things done, they’ll get frustrated and leave. This is where the developer comes in – well, sort of. Because ease of use is subjective and programmers are usually more objective in nature, you may have a different view of what is “easy” to use. But the key is whether your web professional can make the website do whatever it is you’ve determined “easy” to be.
An example might be a sign up form. You decide that it is not very practical to have your site visitor fill out 30 fields only to have it display an error and require that the form be completed again if they enter an improper zip code. You determine that the solution is to have the website check each field as it is being filled out. “If an invalid value is typed in”, you say, “I want the visitor to be notified immediately”. Well, a developer can make this happen. Web developers are programmers and their job is to make the website do what you want it to do. These type of individuals usually are trained in following specific protocols and are not as free thinking as designers.
The bottom line is that you’ll want both skill sets. A web designer to help you direct the visitor to a specific goal and make them feel good about doing it, and a web developer to make your site serve the wants and needs of the visitor to make it easier for the visitor to use the site. Some individuals are familiar with both aspects of building a website. However, if you find out before the project begins, you’ll be in a better position to make your hiring decision.