Do You Need a Web Designer Or a Web Developer?

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.

Web Development – Make it Yours From the Beginning

One of the cardinal sins of web development is, “Though shalt not steal.”

A significant site in 2004 was caught lifting entire web pages from other sites and placing their logos and information on those pages.

In essence the company found a site they liked and wanted one built that looked just like it. This falls under the rule of intellectual property. You see, unless it is a template design that allows you to develop a page that looks very similar to another then the lifting of elements from another website is using the creative talent of others to achieve a personal and financial goal. If you have not reached an agreement with the web designer or company who created the work then you should not use the element.

You can develop something with a similar feel to it perhaps, but in some cases companies have simply mirrored existing work and claimed it as their own.

If you do this you will likely receive a cease and desist order and perhaps find yourself in court over the matter.

The use of templates in web design can help you avoid this problem simply because the work was designed to be used by the masses. Perhaps the most compelling feature of template web development is that even within a template there is significant room for customization.

You can alter pictures, colors and general layout. You will be given ample opportunity to create the page to meet your own expectations. Perhaps the best part is you will not be placing yourself in jeopardy of litigation.

Web development should be about personal creativity and expression. It can be easy to look at another website and conclude that it is so well done it makes sense to use it, but chances are if it’s really good the owner of the site spent significant sums of money on the development of the idea. They will not view your use of their material as flattery. Imitating their work constitutes stealing.

With template rich web builder technology you will have an extremely large number of templates to choose from and adapt to suite your needs. Perhaps the best part of using this is both the freedom to use the template in any way that seems fit and the incredible cost savings available to those who use this technology.

I know of a man who spent thousands of dollars developing a site that used flash technology and had daily updated information and features. Someone liked the site so much they created an exact mirror site with their own domain name. Visitors were led to believe the site owner provided a wealth of information when all that was accomplished was the complete theft of thousands of dollars worth of work. The mirror site was forced to close shop. My friend did not press charges, but has become careful about making sure visitors understand the work is copyrighted material and cannot be used for purposes other than the singular enjoyment of visiting his site.

By all means find elements you think would be useful to your design, but make sure those elements are not duplicates of something that already exists. You want your web site to be around for a long time. Make it all yours from the beginning.

Programming, Coding and Web Development Laptop Specifications

If you need to get a new laptop for programming or coding purposes and are uncertain where to start, this short guide will help you find the perfect setup for your needs.

For web developers, there are really two main paths they need to go through. If you’re doing front-end web development, then you’ll need a basic machine that can run a text editor and a browser to check your progress. For back-end developers things get a bit more complicated. You will need a laptop that can handle multiple tasks simultaneously like running a browser, a local server and the code editor. These might not seem like a lot, but they do require a lot of system resources so make sure you pick a laptop that’s up to the task.

For game, 3D or mobile app development you’ll need a high performance laptop that can render everything in real-time. Think about getting a gaming laptop if you’ll be doing this type of work. Mobile app developers will often need to run a simulation of their app running in the mobile operating system, which can take a lot of system resources.

Let’s have a look at some of the specs recommended for each of these types of development work.

Processor

The processor is the heart of your computer and by the number of cores and threads it boasts, it determines how many processes you can run well in parallel.

For front-end development work, you should be able to get away with a laptop that uses either a Core i3 or Core i5 dual-core processor. Back-end and mobile app developers should aim at least for a Core i5 quad-core processor, Core i7 being the best choice.

RAM

RAM or system memory helps the CPU process everything smoothly. The more your laptop carries, the better. Front-end work implies about 4-8GB of system memory installed, since you’ll probably use a code-editor like Sublime Text and one or more browsers to check up on your work.

Mobile, game and back-end developers should opt for something with a bit more kick. The minimum amount of RAM should be in the 12-16GB range. This is to make sure that all your applications run smoothly together.

Hard Drive or SSD?

Every laptop needs to store and retrieve information. This is done by the storage device installed. Here you have two choices: either get a laptop with a regular HDD, that will typically cost a lot less, or get a laptop that comes with an SSD. An SSD is the newer type of storage option that doesn’t rely on spinning disks to store information and can be about 10-12 times faster than a regular hard disk drive.

For front-end development work, a regular HDD should be enough, but you can always look for hybrid drives which incorporate a bit of SSD technology into a regular HDD. These are a bit faster than regular hard drives and don’t cost quite as much when compared to SSDs.

For any type of programming that’s above front-end development, it’s recommended that you get a laptop that carries an SSD. This will speed up boot times and everything you run on your computer.

Operating system

This is yet another thing you will have to think about. While Windows is perhaps the most popular operating system today, it’s not quite the best choice when all development fields are concerned.

For web development you should try coding in a Linux-based OS, like Ubuntu. Mac OS also works with Windows being the last on this list. This is because you need to install different third-party software like XAMPP on Windows if you’re going to do back-end work. You will have to install some of these as well on Ubuntu, but the process is much more streamlined.

Screen

The laptop screen is another factor that’s important to take into account. With so many resolutions available today, it’s hard to pick a laptop that’s just right for programming.

Front-end developers will need a laptop that carries a screen with a higher than average resolution, since they’ll need to test if their websites are responsive on a lot of resolutions. For back-end developers, this is less important. But what’s true for both of these categories is the need for a secondary monitor. This can speed up development time quite a lot, since you don’t constantly need to switch between applications when coding and checking the output.

Battery Life

While most developers sit at their desk when coding with the computer plugged-in, should you feel the need to code on the go, then make sure you get a laptop that’s got a great battery life.

Macs are typically great at battery life, with their Air series going up to even 12 hours of battery life on a single charge.

The thing is, the more powerful hardware a laptop carries, the more battery life will be sacrificed. This is because powerful hardware eats up a lot of electricity. Most computers nowadays have devised ways of counter-acting this by dimming the display, throttling down the processor when the computer isn’t used and so forth.

If you’re sure you need a laptop with a great battery life, that’s also powerful but don’t want to pay through the nose for a MacBook, then you should invest in a secondary battery that you can take with you when you’re on the move.

In conclusion, if you’ve run through all these aspects, you should have a pretty clear picture in your head of what your next laptop should be like.