Building and maintain a website is not a simple task especially if you want your website to do your business justice. You may also want some support to help you to manage the website effectively and ensure that it runs as it should do. And in a highly competitive online market with all your competitors fighting for the same customers, it is essential to make your website stand out and be noticed and crucially be easily found.
Like many businesses you probably will not have the skills or resources to create your own website and are looking to outsource the activity. Website developers can provide you with the support you need to create an operating website and maintain the website so that your business is constantly online and available to your customers.
What is the difference between website design and website development?
Website development and website design roles can easily be confused, and many people do not realise that these are two very separate and distinct roles. Many agencies and individuals will offer these as a single service which is why many people do not see them as separate roles as they can seamlessly provide both roles and they can appear as a single function.
The website developer’s role is to turn the design of the website into one that is operational by building the background of the website and maintaining the website once it has launched. Website developers are coding specialists who build websites using HTML or other programming code.
The website designer’s role is to create the look and flow of the website and they will create this using a brief that they have gained from the client. They will build wireframes which will be used with the client to agree on the design before the website is built by the website developer.
When you are searching for a website developer you may find that you get a list that includes businesses that called themselves website designers as the two roles are often combined under one name for the ease of the client. The two terms, website developer and website designer, are interchangeable for a lot of agencies that offer both services and they have set up their SEO to pick up on both search terms. Some refer to website design being part of their website development function.
What does website development include?
Website development is the work that generally goes on behind the scenes building the website and maintaining the website on an ongoing basis. There are various roles within website development which include front-end development which is how the website design gets implemented on the web, how the visual components work and its interactivity. There is also back-end development which is the element that builds and maintains components that make the website exist, its backbone in effect, this includes the hosting, databases and applications. When both of these functions are combined, they can be referred to as full-stack development and they undertake all aspects of website development.
The service that a website developer may offer include:
- They will create code that tells the website how to operate, what should appear on each page and in what sequences everything should appear or flow between pages (front-end development).
- They will programme the storage of data and direct the flow of the data into your website database (back-end development).
- They will connect the website to a server location to providing cheap web hosting for the website (back-end development).
- They will put in place an application to run the website (back-end development).
- They will ensure that the server, database and application run together seamlessly (back-end development).
- They will assess the level of server capabilities needed so that the right server is selected and capable of running your website effectively and efficiently.
- They will run website testing in live and testing environments.
- They will ensure that the website works on all browsers and devices effectively.
- They will ensure that the website runs to minimum levels and investigate and remedy any issues (if contracted to do so).
- They can update any software or applications used within the website when necessary.
- They can provide hosting services in some cases where needed or advise on a hosting solution.
- They can assist you in ensuring your website is visible and can be found including that it is search engine optimised to increase the traffic and search ranking for your website.
- They can support you in maintaining your website.
- They can set up website analytics and monitor search engine rankings.
- They can assist you in protecting your website from outside threats including malware scanning.
- They can provide SSL certification to provide security for online communications and enables an encrypted connection.
- They can set up or provide automatic website back up service to enable you to have regular backups of your website that can be stored on the cloud or on a server.
What are the benefits of using a website developer?
There are many benefits of using a website developer which can include:
- They can create bespoke websites that are tailored to better meet your needs.
- They have experience in developing a variety of websites and they know the best components to use to build the most effective website.
- They will advise you on the functionality that you require and the elements that are needed to create the website.
- They can advise on hosting solutions and how to best optimise your website effectiveness for speed and usability.
- They take a holistic approach to your website and will ensure that your front-end and back-end including the servers, databases and applications work together seamlessly.
- They will select the most appropriate code to create your website based on the task they are performing and the platform that your website is using.
- They will ensure that your website is fully operational and is tested in a secure environment across all devices and browsers before launching the website.
- They can take care of the hosting solution for you and maximise your website responsiveness.
- They understand how search engines operate and what they need to do to make your website accessible and visible as well as boost your search rankings.
- They will ensure that your data is stored and flows correctly to the right place and maximise your data insights securely and safely.
- They can maintain your website and ensure that it continues to run effectively including running any software updates on the website and its applications and make sure that the website is fully operational afterwards.
- They can assist you in protecting your website from attacks and viruses and help you to rectify any issue that occur.
- They can run tests on your site including investigating user issues and malware checks and rectify any issues.
- They can help you to manage your website administration and users.
- They can also help keep you informed of regulations that you may need to adhere to such as GDPR for the rules on collecting and holding personal data.
- They can help you to analyse or set up website traffic monitoring.
- They can create a customer database that could link into your own CRM system.
- They can provide an automatic website back up service where you can access your backups through the cloud or on a server so your website can be easily restored in the event of an attack on your website or some content being removed in error by an admin user.
What type of website development services are available?
There are a variety of website development services available which vary depending on the size of the agency and the client’s needs or scale of the website. The majority of website development is provided alongside website design and may not be called website development. These options include:
- Large full-service agencies – these agencies typically offer a full range of digital services which include website design, website development, hosting, SEO, copywriting and graphic design. In these businesses, the role of the website developer will be separate from the website designer and the developer role could be further split out into three different elements which are web browser coding, the webserver coding and the database coding.
- Smaller agencies – these generally will offer a similar range of services to the larger agencies but they may not do all the work in-house themselves and may utilise freelancers to support them. The website developer role is more likely to be done by a single person within these businesses.
- Freelance or self-employed website developers – these tend to be those that work alone directly with a client or work through other agencies on a freelance basis. They may offer both website development and website design.
How much does website development services cost?
The cost of website development can vary depending on the type of agency you use and the work that you want them to do for you.
Many agencies will agree fixed terms for developing a website which will include both website development and website design. They can also offer website maintenance packages which can include a fixed level of support and the tasks that form part of the package and hours included each month. However, there are often additional costs beyond these tasks that should be taken into consideration.
Some website developers will build into their pricing the cost of hosting, SSL certificates, malware scanning, automatic backups and other services so it can be difficult to compare quotes like for like to see which is offering the best value.
To give you an idea of what costs you can expect we have collated some prices from some website developers so you can see what the cost could be, but note some of these prices combine website development and website design:
- Hourly rate for website development can vary depending on their experience and the size of the company. Freelancers and small agencies can charge from £25 – £50 and more experienced website developers can charge from £35 – £70.
- Production of a basic small portfolio website with a few pages can cost from £200 – £500.
- Production of a more advanced portfolio website with greater functionality from £500 – £1,000.
- Production of an ecommerce website with ordering system and payment management can cost from £1,000 – £2,500.
- Sites requiring greater database facilities can cost from £2,500.
- Hosting can cost from £3 – £350 per month with higher rates for those websites that include ecommerce functionality as well as dedicated and cloud hosting options.
- SSL certificates can cost from £15 – £250 per year.
- Website maintenance costs are generally based on a few hours allowance per month on rates from £25 – £50 per hour.
You can also opt to choose an offshore website developer which can offer lower rates, but they do not necessarily offer the same support or reliability. Language barriers may cause an issue and have come back for any issues will not necessarily be handled in the same as using a UK based company.
Another cheaper alternative is to self-build your website using a website builder which can create a basic portfolio site through to a fully functioning ecommerce website.