So, you are looking for a website...
Although you may have heard the titles "Web-designer" and "Web-developer" being used interchangeably, there is actually a dramatic difference between a web-designer and a web-developer. In effect, the difference between the two goes back to two extremely important aspects of a website - the visual or aesthetic aspect of a website, known as the "front-end", and the unseen coding aspect of a website, known as the "back-end". Simply put, web-designers deal with the front-end of a website, while web-developers deal with the back-end of a website - however, these days there can be quite a bit of crossover between the two.
What is a Web-Designer?
A web-designer, for the most part, is only concerned with the visual aspect of the website - they know and understand what colors, fonts, images, and page layouts are the most aesthetically pleasing, and employ both their artistic merits and artistic experience to make the website as attractive as possible. In essence, a web-designer understands and appreciates form and color theory, the visual aspects of marketing, and what drives a person to react to visual stimulation - essentially, they know what looks good, and know how to visually enhance your website. However, what is visually appealing is not always the most efficient and stable means to communicate a message - effectively, this is where a web-developer steps in.
What is a Web-Developer?
Fundamentally, web-developers help you build your website; again, they deal with the unseen coding aspect of a website, known as the back-end, and are primarily concerned with making a website function quickly, efficiently, and with the greatest stability. Moreover, many web-developers oversee and direct the construction of a website from its birth - again, it is up to them to build the backbone of the website, and ensure it functions properly. Although this process is not actually visible to the visitors of the website, it is absolutely vital to the visitor's experience while browsing the website - for example, a web-developer can optimize and dramatically reduce loading times, so that a visitor can access anything quickly and without frustration. Typically, a web-developer will be responsible for developing and coding server side applications, databases, complex e-commerce transactions, and for search engine optimization - naturally, a web-developer must make certain that these are done in an accessible and sensible fashion, while being efficiently coded and highly compatible.
When looking for a web-developer in the Windsor, Ontario region, keep the following points in mind:
Server-side development knowledge (ASP.NET,PHP,JSP). Be sure that your web developer has mastered at least one server side development framework. Even if your website will be mostly presentational, your developer should have the skills to develop even the simplest of server side components such as a contact page, or newsletter sign-up form.
XHTML/HTML standards for the text and layout framework of a Web page. Make sure that your web developer conforms to web-standardards when developing your website. Be weary of developers who use graphic tools to generate HTML code, as the website more often than not ends up to be very sluggish with a lot of bloated code.
Check their on-line portfolio for previous projects they have completed in the same scope as your project. This is one of the most important things to do when choosing a web developer. Moreover, be weary of web developers who only show a picture of their work without giving you the opportunity to use the live website. Be sure to ask for references from companies in the Windsor Ontario area and ask the companies how happy they were with the web development experience.
Never pay in full upfront for any development project. Deposits should never exceed 50% upfront.
Discuss hosting and deployment options with your web developer and make sure you are 100% sure there are no hidden 'set-up' fees with regards to hosting.
Of course, web developers and web designers are not mutually exclusive - for example, a professional web-developer will often times work with a web-designer to make the website he developed more visually pleasing. In effect, a web-developer assembles a development team, which includes a web-designer to ensure the website looks good.
To sum it up...
Creating a new website can be both challenging and extremely rewarding - thankfully, there are professionals out there with the skills required to make your website functional, attractive, and competitive. With the coding skills and developmental guidance of a web-developer combined with the artistic aptitude and aesthetic appreciation of a web-designer, a website can be visually stunning, exceptionally functional, and wonderfully stable.