apple-bananaIn the 20 years that I have been designing and building websites, I’ve on occasion been asked to look at someone’s sick computer to see if I could fix the problem. For some reason, these poor misguided and uninformed souls thought that because I build websites and know HTML, I also know how to fix computers. Sadly, I had to disappoint them and refer them to an IT expert.

What I have found is that for a long time now, there has been a misconception about IT providers and website designers and developers. Even though there is some overlap, they are essentially apples and bananas. A better illustration of the difference between the two is that IT providers are like the electric company; they create and maintain the electrical grid that powers your home. Web designers and developers are like the architects and builders that construct your house that runs on the electrical grid. You wouldn’t call the electric company to build your house, just as you wouldn’t hire your home builder to run your electric utility. Home builders are good at building custom homes that fit your taste and have all the custom personal touches that you want in a home. Website designers are skilled at building custom websites that help build your brand and effectively market your business to potential customers. IT providers, on the other hand, keep your network up and running and humming along. They make sure all the hardware on the network is secure and functioning the way it should be so your website can be found when someone searches for it or types in your web address.

It’s not quite as black and white as I’m portraying it. There is overlap between IT and web development. Many IT people know how to create and maintain websites, especially sites that use Content Management Systems like WordPress. The fact is, however, that a website is a marketing tool, and you should seek out a firm with solid design and marketing credentials. A designer can create a unique and compelling online presence that engages visitors and clearly conveys what your business is all about with style and sophistication. I’ve worked on websites that were originally developed by IT people. They were well built but they fell short in representing the company brand or communicating a strong marketing message. They lacked the information that drives customers to contact a business and keep coming back.

A good IT person is a godsend when your business needs a fast, secure network created and managed or your hardware kept in top working order, but when it comes to marketing your business, seek out a design and development expert.