Clients! Stop searching for a designer/developer!

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As an emerging freelance designer I take some time every now and then to do some project hunting and it is starting to drive me insane. I am not losing my mind due to the time consumed or a lack of success but rather for contacting potential clients under false pretenses. Please forgive me but when you post a job requesting the services of a freelance web designer my impression is that you need someone to design a website for you. All too often I come to find out that what these clients need is a web developer to build applications and scripts for their websites. And as you may assume this misunderstanding goes the other way around as well. And the coup de grâce of all is the job posting for a web Designer/Developer in where the poster assumes that everyone who designs web sites also develops them.

Lets take a look at some examples.

Web Designer / Developer (Portland, OR (Remote))

Here we are looking for that magical designer/developer combo but lets see what this Portland company actually needs.

A note about Big B Creations:
Big B Creations is a leading edge company offering a wide variety of solutions for both Web and IT needs. We focus primarily on building websites, but also provide a large array of other web hosting, email and IT related services. We believe in custom made sites that work, utilize web standards and support clean code for maximum browser compatibility and Search Engine Optimization.
Let’s talk about you:
If you have a knack for producing effective web content and clean DHTML, we are the ones looking to meet you. Working with Big B Creations will bring new challenges and an ever evolving daily routine. You will interact with designers, programmers and other team members to produce websites and maximize SEO/SEM results. An emphasis on learning and maintaining current info on ways to improve client SE results and demonstrate results will ensure your success in this position.
This is a great opportunity to work on developing cutting-edge applications for our clients using the latest and greatest technologies. Candidate must have excellent problem solving, communication and time management skills and must be able to adapt quickly to changes in project requirements.
Job Tasks / Functions
• Website Development – Basic Website development using web standards, CSS / XHTML / SEO techniques.
• Photoshop / Illustrator
• CSS / JavaScript
• Table less design
• Semantic coding
• W3C Validation
• Error 404 pages
• Favicon.ico
• Search Engine Optimization
• Write clean code. Know CSS. Cleanup existing code
• Use of Keyword selection tools access to identify Keywords
• Working with keywords and clients to get effective net copywriting. Mesh text linking.
• Search Engine Services
• Google Maps
• Local
• Sitemap.xml
• Content / Copy writing (SEO Optimized)
• Know how to write effective copy
• How and when to use keywords in phrases and Text Linking
• Work with client or copy provider on web optimization
Requirements:
• At least 3 years direct and current experience.
• Photoshop / Illustrator: Slice PSD files into web standard web page templates. Crop, size, enhance and optimize images. May do logo work. May need to prep for print
• Must know how to code in HTML
• FTP / Web technologies.
• HTML, CSS, JavaScript (Basic), Browsers, W3C Validation
• Communication skill both written and verbal
• Self managed
• Strong analytical skills
• Excellent organizational and communication skills both verbal and written.
• Strong attention to details
• Very solid work ethic; go the extra mile
• Ability to work both independently and within a close knit team environment
• Highly motivated individual and comfortable working with members of diverse teams
• Ability to work with tight deadlines, multi-task and be flexible

Big G Creations, I am pleased to announce that you are in need of a web designer and will not be requiring the services of a web developer. Now some will be quick to point out the inclusion of HTML and CSS in this job posting which would fall under the duties of front-end development. There is plenty of discussion going around about whether designers should know HTML and CSS or not but in my opinion a web designer who does not know HTML or CSS is simply a graphic designer. Lets look at another job posting.

Designer very strong in FLEX needed immediately (Orlando, Florida)

The title alone is just fantastic. A designer that is very strong in FLEX, while I would usually not bother reading past this point I just can’t help but to read on!

We are looking for a web designer who is very strong in Flex and Flash to create an interface from a highly complex database and create original, unique graphs and models from the data. The position is temporary on a 90 trial basis as an independent contractor with potential for full-time employment after the trial period.
This is a national company and information will be provided about the company if you are selected for an interview.
The qualified candidate should have experience working in multiple development platforms and languages and possess very creative thinking and problem solving skills. Knowledge of database integrations is also a must.
Please send your resume for consideration.

This is clearly a development position. Asking a web designer to work with a highly complex database to build charts and graphs is like buying a scratching post for your dog.

So then who does what? What are designers responsible for and what can we expect from developers?

In my books the web designer is responsible for the visual layout of your website. They should be experts in usability while also most likely being inherently right brained individuals. A web designer should be creative and free thinking which will allow them to provide you with a unique look and feel to your website that invokes an emotional response from your visitors. By default most web designers are not good at web development because the principles behind non-tail recursive loops and database queries just don’t really click to them. With that said I do think it is important for a web designer to be able to code HTML and CSS because it is part of the medium being worked with just like a painter must understand the chemical differences between water and oil based paints.

On the other hand web developers are analytical thinkers. They process tasks in logical steps and have little trouble with mathematical formulas and for the most part we can expect a web developer to be left brained. These are your database, ActionScript, and PHP experts.

So for those looking to hire please be careful when you post your job titles! Let your requirements tell you who you are really looking for!

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