Choosing the Right People for I.T.—Web Developer, Web Designer, or Information Architect?

People represent the foundation of business. People manufacture or deliver offerings, people market and sell their products or services, and people become the clients who buy them. This holds true even in the age of Software as a Service (SaaS)—people still program, iterate, and launch the company’s output, people utilize social media to market it in the digital realm, and people oftentimes purchase over the internet rather than in the brick-and-mortar stores of the past.

In many cases, firms form vague impressions of their Information Technology (IT) needs and look in the wrong direction or seek the wrong personnel. Not every web specialist can accomplish every necessary task. Although Web Developers, Web Designers, and Information Architects share many similarities, they retain important distinctions in their roles and capabilities.

Web-Development-Design-Architecture-Cake

A company website resembles a cake in structure, divided into Web Design, Web Development, and Information Architecture layers.

Web Design represents the frosting of a website. Web Designers devise the front that the site presents to visitors. They often collaborate closely with their clients’ marketing departments in order to display enticing and engaging content to draw in prospective clients. They ensure an agreeable and robust user experience as well as the execution of any interactive elements. Web Design also entails the website’s graphics, typography and page layout. Overall, Web Designers focus more on the aesthetics of the website and firms usually call on them to beautify a functional website.

Web Development delves into the internal mechanics that support the operation of the website, much like the baked portions of a cake. Although Web Developers can work on sections of the website that interact with the client and thus can overlap with Web Designers, they do so with a much heavier emphasis on coding and markup. Furthermore, Web Developers also work on server-side projects and behind-the-scenes maintenance, security, and administration duties. Integration of modules and third-party Software as a Service into the website falls under the purview of the Web Developers.  Most Web Developer work is invisible to the end-user but instrumental in the daily operation of the site.

Information Architecture is the plate upon which the cake rests—although not edible, the plate handles a necessary part in the serving of the cake. Similarly, Information Architecture meta-organizes a company’s web and software properties to facilitate search, information retrieval, and usability. Information architecture categorizes information and develops libraries and databases. A company can apply Information Architecture beyond its public web properties and also integrate it into its content management systems, databases, and intranets. Users (whether internal or external) thus enjoy a more accessible experience on any of the company’s digital presences.

Rahul encourages any modern entrepreneur to carefully consider what particular service his/her website needs before soliciting contractors. Not all Web experts are equivalent, and each plays a distinct role in the construction and implementation of a website.

Justin Yum is an apprentice for Anant Corporation (www.anant.us). Anant offers a free Appleseed web development tool and guides here. For more tips, subscribe to the Anant Corporation newsletter by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/npJmj

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