Is Your Web Designer Unknowingly Harming Your Business?

James Burchill


Why? How? Because they're involved in software development. And before you start wondering what I'm talking about, I'd like to remind you that your web site (although cool) is nothing more than a software program running on a computer. And ever since people started writing software there have been very well defined roles and skill sets.

Now don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with roles and skills definitions for software development, however I am going to make it easy for you to figure out the type of web resources you may have at your disposal and whether they are helping your business - or unknowingly harming it (just in case you were wondering.)

An analogy that should help:

Does the interior decorator or designer of your home perform the same duties as the architect? What about the builder of your home, are they the same as your architect? Of course not, the interior designer works with the look and feel of your home, the builder erects the structure and the architect designs the master plan and oversees the development and ensures the finished product meets all the requirements (and the building code!)

There's no doubt that the builder and the interior designer are absolutely critical to the success of the project, however they follow the guidance of the architect and the plan the architect created. When put like this you immediately see it's a little foolish to assume all the roles are alike and how easily it would be for an over enthusiastic builder or designer to unknowingly cause you some problems because they had no master plan to follow.

So here's a quick cross reference and comparison for you:

Architect - The master planner develops the architectural plan and oversees the project. They stay abreast of changing rules and ensure the sites optimal design and performance. Many factors are considered including marketing trends, SEO, usage data and so forth. The architect is very familiar with the latest construction technologies and with user interface design because they direct those aspects of the project.

Builder - The Web Programmer codes the pages and works with architect. Some builders (web programmers) are specialists and code only databases while others focus on different specialties. And just like a construction site has a Foreman, there is an equivalency in programming and they're called the Lead Programmer. The LP often makes build decisions about the project and works directly with the architect. On small build teams the LP and the builder are one and the same.

Designer - The Graphic Designer develops the look and feel of the site. They work closely with the builder(s) and the architect to meet the final objectives. The GD creates the unique personality of your site – again this is under the purview of the architect and the client. The GD helps to form the visitor's first impression of your site.

Sales Rep - Ok, the whole building analogy gets a little fuzzy here, but the 'selling' on your web site relies heavily on words and writing for the web is not the same as writing for the print world (the architectural plan heavily affects the writing and the web copy aspect, mess this up and the nicest site with best code will not save you because your site will not be found.)

Many Hats

Often times a web resource has more than one skill set, after all there is a well defined career path and each step leads to new skill development. Usually the ‘art' path and the coding (building) path don't co-exist together – think oil and water, and writing code is usually more scientific than designing a beautiful interface.

And figuring out how to code the web page is not the same as deciding why that page should even exist, or what that page should accomplish functionally within the framework of a bigger picture – that's the architect's job.

However every once in a while you find a unique individual who has crossed back and forth between the art/design camp and the world of technical analysis and coding. It's rare, but they do exist – invariably they favour one area more than another.


There are at least four (4) discreet roles for your web project:

  • Architect (plan/design),
  • Builder (construction),
  • Designer (look/feel),
  • & Writer (words/messages).

Now you know why it can be risky assuming the person putting together your great looking web pages is also capable of formulating and architecting your sites master plan, and why your web designer (or your web programmer) may be unknowingly harming your business.

Remember, to person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail and programmers tend to think code fixes all ills, and graphic designers tend to think that graphics will save the day.

But I'm guessing you've figured that out after reading this article...

JAMES BURCHILL is an experienced Internet Marketing & Business Development consultant providing strategic and tactical services to select clients looking to architect their on and offline marketing success. James is a published author, a passionate advocate of technology and the Internet, as well as an avid study of classical advertising and marketing strategies. In his corporate roles, he's served as VP of Professional Services and VP of Information Technology & Consulting and has implemented multi-million dollar solutions for Oracle, the British and US Government, and Rolls Royce, among many others. Read more of James' insightful thoughts and articles on his daily blog at and while you're there - visit his main site at

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