Guide to hiring a web professional

Understanding what the different types of web professionals will help you in this process.  To see a more detailed list of industry professionals see my post on, …all web developers are created equal… Not!  

So, here are the basics.

  1. Web Designer – Often a graphic designer that specializes in the psychology of colors, typography, usability standards and best practices…  However, they usually don’t write code.  Sometimes they will know HTML and CSS, but it isn’t usually their strength.
  2. Front-End Developer – These are developers that know client-side code.  Client-side code is the code that renders in your browser to handle the display (the look and feel and positioning of elements, the amount of space between elements and the size and color of elements).  A really good front-end developer will know javaScript and jQuery which is used to create interactions with the web user on your site.  For example, if you want a modal to pop-up as the user starts to scroll down your site, it is usually done with some sort of JavaScript.
  3. Back-End Developer – these are developers that know Server-side code.  This is the code that executes on the server vs. in the browser.  This code is used to connect the various files on the server and connect them so that they can execute functions such as querying the database for results or taking information gathered in the browser and storing it in a database for later use.  These developers often know code such as .NET or PHP and MySql database code…

Now, sometimes you will get one of these that crosses over into another, but it is usually designer and front-end developer or front-end developer and back-end developer, but you rarely find a back-end developer that is also a designer and vice versa.  I believe this has to do with the whole left brain right brain scenario where designers are more right brain and developers are left brain.

So, why is it important to know this?

Well, if you are looking to hire help building your website, you should know what to expect.  For example, a graphic designer will create you a beautiful logo and select fonts that compliment your logo and or services.  They will help you identify your color schema and help you organize the website so that it has a hierarchy based on your goals and objectives.  However, they probably won’t be able to assist much in creating tools to manage your content and might not be able to change layouts or create new layouts for your content.

A front-end developer might be able to assist in design elements, but their main specialty will be building or changing layouts.  They should be able to make things change when clicked or moused over and they should be able to help implement things like Google Maps, basic forms, photo galleries and or sliders/carousels that rotate images and or content.

A back-end developer will write code that will make it easier for you to manage your site, but also allow users to interact with the site by doing searches, filtering results that come out of a database.   They should be able to create custom fields in your admin dashboard for you to enter data such as testimonials, specials & packages, prices and promo codes.  Basically, they write code that uses logic.  They write code that checks to see if a condition exists and then either moves on or executes a function.  They write code that stores data in arrays or global variables to be used at a later time or more than one place within the site.  A back-end developer is going to help you build a more robust set of features and functionality.   For example, let’s say you have multiple products with multiple prices, but you only want certain pricing to be displayed when a certain criterion has been met.  Perhaps the criteria are dates or a promo code the user has entered or perhaps it is both.  A back-end developer can write code that uses that logic to determine what gets displayed and in what order…

The important takeaway is that not all web developers are created equal so make sure you know who you are hiring to do your website.

See my post on, “How much do web developers cost?