Who does what when building a website.
I frequently get calls for quotes from people who are surprised that their “web person” isn’t writing the web content. Misunderstandings about the roles that different people play in creating a website are common and to be expected when dealing with tech-related roles. Not all website projects will need all of these people – I “built” my website using a template on Squarespace, the only professional I involved was a photographer. As with all projects the more people you add the more expense you may incur. You can expect your website’s life span to be around three years and to cost from €5,000 and upwards. But when you consider the return on investment that a great website can deliver for your business it’s money and time well spent.
Usually a graphic designer, this is the person who has the overall vision for making your website look great and work well for your business. Often the web designer is the one who will project manage building your website and will know which people to involve in the project and at what stage. The web designer should have an understanding of what your customers will need from your website and what information or result you want from their visit. They may be your only point of contact to build the website, sub-contracting the work to the other professionals before unveiling the finished website to you. In other cases, businesses might work directly with a web developer rather than a designer, it depends on what the budget is and how complicated the website is.
The web developer seems to be the mysterious “web person” that I hear clients talk about! This is the person who does the coding and under-the-bonnet work. They make sure that there aren’t any bugs, that everything functions as expected and fits in with the web designer’s brief. Some web projects don’t involve a web designer, so the developer might be the main point of contact. The complexity of the project will dictate their involvement in the project. For very straightforward template-based websites there might be no need for a web developer (other than the behind the scenes ones in Squarespace, Wordpress or Wix!)
The person who translates what the business does into the right words to appeal to the right clients. Writing is a skill that businesses sometimes underestimate. Lots of people can write, some of them can write well, but not everyone can do so in a way that persuades others to take action. Since a website is intended to encourage people to take action – add to basket, book an appointment, or trust the business – it’s worth investing in the expertise of a professional content writer.
Content design is a relatively new discipline which involves a writer in the project at a much earlier stage. Sarah Richards, a former copywriter, developed the idea of content design when she redesigned the Gov.uk websites. Using techniques such as user stories, pair writing and crits, Richards created websites which are more focussed on the end user, their needs and reading behaviour. Expect to hear more about content designers in years to come and for FAQ pages to become extinct!
Even if what you do seems intangible – a service such as accounts or legal advice, having great images for your website is vital. People buy from people, photos of key staff members are important to build trust. If you have products to promote then having professional photographs taken by an expert can be the difference between making a great product look amazing or making an amazing product look average! Having a library of great photographs to use on your website and social media can stop someone from scrolling past your content and help convert them to a customer.
SEO keyword researcher
This is the person who will help you to rise up the page in Google results. SEO means “search engine optimised” so the SEO keyword researcher will suggest the best words to include to be found by internet searchers. Or will do their best to do so, these days algorithms and voice recognition are changing at such a pace that it pays to get an expert in. You can pass on any suggested keywords to your content writer who can weave them into their content. The web developer will also ensure that they’re included in any backend metadata of your website.
These are just a few of the many people who might be involved in website projects. For more complicated websites UX designers, micro-copy writers, animators, illustrators and videographers may contribute also. A web designer will usually manage your website build so that you might not even be aware of all the people who are involved behind the scenes.
Some questions to ask your “web person”
- Who else will be involved in creating the website?
- Are images included or do I have to provide them?
- Who is going to write the content and when do you need it?
- How many rounds of changes are included in the cost?
- What’s the turnaround time?
- When do you need me to provide the images/word content (if I’m providing them)?
- What format should they be in?
- Who maintains the website if something goes wrong in the future?
- Who can add/update content after the build?
- Can you recommend a …..? Your web designer/developer will know the best people for any extra jobs your website build demands.
Creating a new website from scratch, or refreshing an existing one, can be time-consuming so it’s important to understand the different roles of people involved. Having clarity about what information your web designer/developer expects from you, and when they need it, can help you to avoid unplanned delays.