Webvanta Blog: Techniques for Effective Websites

Choosing Where to Draw the Line

Choosing Where to Draw the Line Image

Many designers say they’re the most effective when they spend most of their time on design, not implementation. But your clients want working sites, not paintings (i.e., Photoshop files) of them. There’s a lot of technology involved in translating your design into a working, modern web site.

Depending on your skills, interests, and experience, you may choose to design in Photoshop or Fireworks and leave the HTML and CSS to others. Or you may choose to do your own coding.

Web design and development roles

There's many different roles designers may play, and different people use the same names to mean different things:

  • Graphic designers typically don’t get involved in HTML and CSS coding.
  • Front-end developers code designs in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Web designers typically take on both the graphic designer role and at least part of the front-end developer role.

Wherever you choose to draw the line with regard to front-end design and coding, you probably want someone else to deal with managing servers, installing content management systems, and customizing back-end code. If you use a designer-oriented CMS, especially one like Webvanta that is provided as a hosted service, you may be able to handle the back-end setup and maintenance without delegating these tasks to someone else.

By making a conscious choice about where you draw the line between design and implementation, you can more effectively find partners to handle the tasks you choose to outsource.

Making Your Design Business More Competitive

If you draw the line between what you do yourself and what you outsource to others too far “to the right” (in the diagram above), you spend a lot of time working your way up the learning curve and struggling with things that don’t quite work. This makes your project either very expensive, if you charge the client for all that time, or unprofitable, if you’re covering that time on your own or working against a fixed-price bid.

The further to the left you draw the line, however, the more you are dependent on others.

When you find the sweet spot, your profits go up because you’re not spending time on things that don’t deliver a lot of value. You can take on larger and more complex jobs when dynamic pages, database-driven content, JavaScript widgets, and more are added to your repertoire, because you have a resource that makes those things easy and inexpensive.

The cost-effectiveness of your implementation partner can have a huge effect on the profitability of your business. In effect, you are reselling the implementation services, combined with your design and nurturing.

By combining your design with a good implementation partner’s services, you create a more valuable end product and earn higher prices. You can charge a markup on the outside services, and you add value to your design work.

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