Do I need a web designer? Web developer? UX? UI? Which one should I choose?

These days having a business means you must own a website. Except you’re not a web designer, and you might need one. In order to work effectively with any web designer or web developer, you need to understand the basic terms of the tech world and this will be hard to grasp for a newbie.

In other words, you need help in understanding what you really need.

The purpose of this article is to make you familiar with four of the most basic terms in the tech industry namely web design, UI, UX and web development. We’ll make these concepts which seem abstract, more understandable to you. When you understand them you’ll know which one your business needs more, whether you are developing simple website or a minimum viable product for your startup.

 Do I need a web designer? Web developer? UX? UI? Which one should I choose?

The ABCs of IT

First of all, you need to understand the basic definitions of these terms before we go down into more explanations

  • Web design: This is an umbrella term to describe everything that goes into designing a website, both visuals and interface.
  • Web development: This has to do with the technical part of web design. It entails the coding of both front-end and back-end programming of your website.
  • User Interface (UI): This aspect of web design focuses on how the users view the site and how they interact with it. This involves all the buttons, menus and other features on your website.
  • User Experience (UX): UX and UI are very similar but UX has to do with what the user think of the website and how they behave when they browse your website.

As you can tell already, each of these areas compliment the other and can overlap in many cases. Each area can be used to address a certain problem in a different point of view.

[EXAMPLE] Take loading time for example, it’s a common problem for websites, look at how these different fields handle it:

  • Web design: This usually means that there’s too much content on the site, in such case the web design need to be compressed, resized and adjusted to make the pages run more smoothly, in some cases the designer might decide to cut some unnecessary features or images.
  • Web development: Here you can use CSS sprites to reduce bandwidth and change the delivery network to increase loading time, in particular locations.
  • UI: The buttons and controls should work effectively and must be as responsive as possible, so that the site-user interaction can be faster and efficient
  • UX: The probability that a user will enjoy the site has a lot to do with the loading time, so the loading time on the home and landing pages should be taken care of, otherwise your bounce rate will be high and users will be more likely to leave your website before they read your content or interact with your product.

If you were a very well established business, you might be hiring a team of specialists who will take care of all these fields and come up with solutions to these challenges. But due to financial constraints you might only have the option of hiring one specialist to focus on one area.

During your search you’ll come across some people who claim to be jack of all trades including:

  • Designers who have some coding skills, but they can never be the same as specialists on the ground. They might be of some help though, if your site is not too complex
  • UI design and web design can be overlapping in many aspects, you might come across people using both
  • Some who feel UX and UI are the same, they give themselves specialist title in both
  • UX which is present in product management, might be seen as the same for web design

Although these people can have their added value, it’s rare to find one who has an equal amount of skill in all areas.

There are also differences between web applications and mobile applications. Those that are good at building apps whether mobile or desktop, might not be as good when designing a website. So depending on what you need the most, make sure you are hiring the right specialists in that area.

Which one do you need most?

There’s no straight answer, once you pick one it means that the rest are inferior. But in the end, it all depends on your business needs at the moment as well your business goals for the long term and short term. In the end you may need at least 2 specialists.

One way to know which field you need the most, you need to know which field can fix the problem you have more effectively. So here’s a list of problems that each field is more equipped to handle. So from this list you should know which one you need to make your site better.

Web design

  • The site doesn’t work well on mobile version, probably lack of responsive views
  • Site is out of date ( not following the latest trends in design and marketing)
  • Terrible graphics
  • Customers aren’t visiting the target pages you want
  • Users spend low time on your website

Web development

  • The site isn’t functioning properly
  • Security problems and issues
  • Multiple 404 errors
  • DNS lookups failure
  • Site sometimes goes offline
  • Some pages on your website fail and do not load

UI – User interface

  • Navigation is poor, users can’t find the right content
  • Insufficient customization options
  • Absence of social sharing options
  • Users don’t know how to use the site

UX – User experience

  • Insufficient conversion rates
  • Duration time is too low, users leave your web page after few seconds
  • They don’t watch the video at all or until the end

Although  each of these problems can be fixed using any of the four categories. But some are just better at some areas. Take a bigger picture look at what are your business needs and choose what suits better.