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Answers to a handful of questions we're often asked about web design to help you get the most from your website experience.

Web designers vs Web Developers

You may have heard the terms 'web designer' and 'web developer' and wondered what the difference is, if there's a difference at all. Web design and web development are two different disciplines: A web designer will typically deal with the 'front end', which includes the visual aspect of a website, the HTML and the user experience, or UX.

The web developer will be responsible for the 'back-end' which means they will write server-side scripts that result in any functionality the wbsite might have. There is overlap though, and often a designer will be capable of developing and the developer will be happy designing.

Graphic Design for the web

Often, graphic design is used as another term for 'print design' ie. design for printed communications; leaflets, posters, brochures, logo design, magazine layouts and advertising. However, in 2017 there is so much crossover between website design (digital design or even 'graphic design for the web') and graphic design, it's very difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. Often the same designer will be responsible for online and offline creative, blurring the lines even more. Generally though, a designer will specialise in one discipline (either web or print) but will need to be able to be comfortable with the other in order to succeed in design.

Why should my business worry about having a website?

There is an ever increasing reliance on websites globally, especially in the UK where over 87% of adults use the internet. Around 99% of adults aged between the ages of 16 and 24 are online, and as they get older, this internet savvy audience will replace the current crop of more traditionally internet-cautious middle-aged and elderly people who can find the technology confusing, having been brought up prior to its existence.

People now turn to the internet before exploring any other channel for a wide range of needs, including shopping, leisure activities, watching live streamed media, participation in online communities information gathering and gaming. Largely because of its convenience, availability, cost, versatility and adaptability.

You cannot get this kind of global exposure with any other kind of media. And if you're looking to target people in your area and surrounding areas (any area in fact!) you can target them using tailored advertising campaigns. If you marry this with Google's (other search engines are available) search algorithms, you can ensuring that only people who are interested in what you have to say/sell visit your site, so you don't waste their time, and they don't waste yours. And with great interactive design and functionality, once they're there, you can ensure they keep coming back!

With the increasing popularity of mobile devices, what are responsive websites and how is web design affected?

Two out of every three minutes spent online in the UK are users browsing on either a smartphone or a tablet. 13% of adults in the UK browse the internet exclusively using their smartphone, 2% more than browse exclusively on their desktop computer.

In the last two years tablet internet use grew by almost a third, and in the same two year period smartphone use grew by 78%, while desktop internet use has decreased.

The way people use smartphones to access the internet has revolutionized the way websites are built. Long gone are the days that companies were happy to have customers browse their full, desktop version of their site on their smartphone, causing users to zoom in and out of areas of the page that interested them, struggling to click on the tiny text links to navigate. If you're building a website for the modern internet user, the likelihood is that if they don't view your site exclusively on their mobile device, they'll at least check you out via their iPhone or Android phone before sitting down later at their computer to have a more in-depth look.

This is why most clients want a 'mobile-first' approach to their website, whereby you ensure that everything looks and behaves beautifully on a mobile device before considering a desktop version, and if something has to compromise, it certainly won't be the mobile site.

A 'responsive' website is one that adapts to the device it's being viewed on, whether that is a desktop computer, a mobile phone or a tablet. The content is then displayed in a way that is optimized for said device, improving user experience.

Flat websites vs CMS - what's the difference?

There are two main categories of website: the flat/HTML brochure style website and the CMS (Content Management System) website. The main difference is that the website owner cannot update the flat/HTML website without web design/development knowledge. They are intended to be built and managed by the web designer/developer, and whenever the site owner requires an update to the site, they would go back to their designer/developer who will be able to make the update for them. This works well for sites that don't require many updates, as they are more cost effective for the site owner, taking less time to set up and build than their CMS counterpart. Flat/HTML websites also traditionally have limited functionality.

A CMS website is built on the back of a content management system (Wordpress for example) and is generally connected to a data source; A database for example (other data-sources are available!). They are also built using more complex programming language; php or ASP.NET for example (along with HTML in many cases) to allow for a greater scope for functionality, enabling the user to interact with the site in much more depth. The main benefit of a CMS website however is that they can be updated and managed by the website owner without any prior knowledge or experience in website technologies. Because they are more complex however, they will cost more than a flat/HTML site, but this is balanced out by virtue of the fact that the site owner does not have to pay a web designer/developer to make updates.

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