Website Designer vs. Website Developer – does it matter?

I had an interesting situation recently where a referral for website management turned into something more. After running a site audit and presenting my findings to the prospect, he asked about a nagging technical issue he’d been having. He had been alerted to some “open port vulnerabilities” on their existing website and was looking for someone to help fix them. I explained (a couple of times) that a) these were more of a server issue than a website one and b) it was not my area of expertise. 

(If I ever get these types of issues on a client site I get my server tech support to handle it and in the very rare case that they can’t solve it I subcontract out to an IT company.)

The prospect wasn’t very happy with this.

Hmm.  Are you just doing oversight and back up or do you do development

Essentially calling me out because I wasn’t a “developer”.

Let’s be clear I’ve never called myself a developer. In my mind a developer is someone who gets their hands into the code developing custom solutions for specific client needs. They probably have a deeper understanding of all the techie aspects of a website project including the servers and server software. I ain’t that guy!

I’m not really a website “designer” either. I’m not a graphic artist and I really don’t design things for my clients – generally I take what they give me (logos, photos, content, etc.) and turn them into a great looking, well-functioning, custom-built website for them.

If pressed, I tell people that I’m a WordPress Implementer. 

When using Microsoft Word or Adobe Illustrator I don’t need to know all the code that goes into making them, I just need to know how to use them at a high enough level to get the results I’m looking for. The same goes for WordPress and the themes and plugins that make it work! I’m really good at implementing those tools to build websites that my clients love.

Ultimately, I’m glad that it didn’t go anywhere with this particular prospect – I don’t want to work with anyone that looks down their nose at me because I don’t match some arbitrary standard they’ve created for me in their own head. Let me know if you’ve had any similar experiences with clients or prospects (or even developers) that felt you weren’t up to their standards – send me a note here.

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