View Full Version : Should Web Designers be Marketers?

08-21-2008, 02:32 PM
I came across this post from a friend of mine with tips for hiring a web designer (http://thefuturebuzz.com/2008/08/21/10-tips-for-how-to-choose-the-best-web-designer/). One of Adam's tips is to separate your web design and external marketing and not hire the same person to do both. I both agree and disagree to some extent and think the question is an interesting one.

Do you think you should hire the same person or team to be responsible for both the design of your website and marketing or should they be left to separate people?

As someone who offers both services you might think I'd say you should always hire the same person for both. Actually I think it's a good idea to hire people on either end that understand the other discipline, but it's ok to hire different people for both.

Design and marketing clearly overlap. Your website in many ways is your biggest online marketing tool. I think it makes sense to hire a web designer who at least understands the marketing process. Many should, but not all do.

Similarly your marketing team should understand the basics of design since your design will play a large role in how your business and brand are perceived.

However it might be difficult for one company or individual to really be expert in both areas. In my own business I don't offer a full range or marketing services in part for this reason. I offer those where I feel I can provide good value to my clients and if anything I use the marketing side as more of a selling point for my web design and development services.

I know many of the designers here offer marketing services to some degree. Do you offer full marketing services or a limited set? Do you have different people in house working on each or are they handled by the same person or people?

Regardless of whether or not you hire one company for both or one company for each, I do think it's very important to have all teams in place from the start. The disciplines overlap a lot and you want your design and marketing to work toward a common goal. I've seen too many people put up a website first with little to no thought of their marketing and then attempt to attach the marketing later. Much better is to include marketing in your design process. Even better is to include marketing at the product development stage.

What do you think? Should the services be done by the same person or team? Should you hire each separately? Where do you think each should come into the process?

08-21-2008, 03:04 PM
I'm pretty sure I made a post here related to this subject, but I would hire a marketer that knows some design over the opposite if the purpose of the site is to make money. There are sites that are not intended to make money such as a dental office that is always booked or some corporate sites.

I would want someone to come up with site site structure and layout from the marketing side as well as the basis for SEO ie domain names, page titles, keyword research.

They can farm out graphics, artsy stuff, scripts, and copyrighting. I would expect them to edit the page copy for SEO.

Adam Singer
08-21-2008, 03:13 PM

I think you are unique, in that you really understand all aspects of design, search and marketing. Not that many people understand it all so well. Just from personal experience, I do not come across this often.

Also it is a huge effort for sustained online marketing and PR (they go hand in hand). That is something many busy designers cannot keep pace with especially as they keep getting new design works.

Perhaps a really unique agency that has strong design and marketing/PR skills could take this on, and I've seen them. But, I have not seen many do both right.

Just to me - I'd rather have *the best* web designer and then *the best* marketer. I wouldn't want to have someone that was okay at both.

08-21-2008, 03:43 PM
Hey Adam. First of all welcome to the forum. Second great post on hiring a web designer. I know I left a comment on the post, but thought I'd compliment you again here.

I'm not sure how unique I am, but thanks for the compliment. I do agree with your assertion too. I hope that came across. Even though I might understand the different aspects you mentioned I know there are people who know more about many of them than I do and I don't consider myself an expert in all of them. To me I'm a web designer/developer first and a marketer/SEO second.

I agree with you that most designers aren't going to have the same expertise in design and marketing, though I think there will be firms with in house experts in both.

And I too would want to have the "best" web designer and the "best" marketer. Still I'd want both sides to have an understanding of the other since the disciplines overlap in so many places.

It's an interesting discussion. I think both sides really do need an understanding of the other so who do you go to. Larger companies can easily hire both, but a small business may be limited to picking one or at least one at a time. Should they hire a marketing team that knows a little about web design or a web design time that knows a little about marketing? Does it make a difference which way they go?

@Bill - I'm not sure the decision is so easy. For example a marketing team that knows something about design can still be dangerous. They may understand the marketing aspects of the visual design, but know nothing of the code beyond what a program like DreamWeaver spits out. That could hinder all future seo efforts.

I think it's more a question of each specific firm and what skills they have.

A designer could also hire out for many of the marketing tasks. They could hire a PR firm and a copywriter. They could outsource link building. I don't think the choice is one size fits all.

For my part I consider myself a web designer/developer who understands the marketing process. I offer people websites that are primed for their future SEO and marketing. While I offer some seo services the services are limited and I still mainly see myself as desginer/developer. I still think if someone came to me first they'd be in good hands and on the right path with their marketing. Of course I am a bit biased on my behalf. :)

08-21-2008, 05:19 PM
Vangogh and I share in common that we both approach web design from a marketing perspective, and yes, that is more rare since very few web designers do. We also both promote this as an advantage, which I think it is, especially for a small business. The number of web sites out there that are designed without regard for marketing suggest to me that web designers don't typically take the initiative to question marketing goals.

I don't claim full blown marketing services though, just that my marketing knowledge makes for more effective design. I don't do things like major surveys, lead focus groups, etc., but I understand the process well enough to ask questions when planning a design. In that sense, the services of separate sources have their place depending on the need and scope. But for the needs of many small business owners, I can provide both effectively.

08-21-2008, 05:35 PM
Let me phrase it differently VG. Understand that I am coming from this as a person who writes his own websites for person use (I sell stuff on the web). That is very different than someone who is a web designer for an occupation such as yourself and about a million other steves around here :)

The people that make the most money on the web that I have come across are marketers first and designers second. Some will do some design for others, but primarily design sites for their own use. I have noted that they always have multiple revenue streams on their sites. That can include selling products, affiliates, promoting direct advertisers etc. Some of them make a LOT of money. But they all can do better on the design side than just manage DW. Most can write some php, css, html, and do some graphics. Where their true skill is in the marketing side however. They also farm out many of the tasks.

How that overlays into what people or companies who develop websites for for others for a living; or what people who have businesses and need to find an appropriate "designer" for their business - I don't know.

One thing that is very clear to me is that business owners and this applies to corporate managers usually don't have a clue about web marketing. By that, what do they need their website to do? How do they achieve that? I don't care if they have a masters in business or are a small entrepreneur. If they don't know, how do they hire and manage the right person for the job? There are obviously exceptions to this but that is a valid generilization in my opinion.

08-21-2008, 06:29 PM
I come at this from the Marketing side of things. I probably know enough about SEO and HTML to be dangerous. I'm not, nor have I ever been a designer. I'm more than happy to leave the nuts and bolts of putting a web site together to those who really know what they're doing. My job is to figure out how to drive people to the site and how to get them to perform a specific action once they're there.

Web site design does fall under my direction as Director of Marketing, but I share the that with our IT department. They handle the actual construction, I figure out what the site should say and how it should look.

That seems to work best.

08-21-2008, 09:02 PM
Bill I understand what you're saying. I'm thinking more that you can find firms who offer both services with fully staffed departments for each so either could really provide what you're looking for.

I know what you're saying about the people who are successful online, but I think most started from different backgrounds. Some started as marketers and others started as designers. Some started as programmers and others just wanted to be online and learned.

I do think marketing is vital to business success though so naturally when you see a successful business online or offline they've done well with the marketing side of things. Maybe that's why it seems like they're marketers first sometimes. I'd bet that many people who've been to my blog would assume I'm marketer first and in some ways I guess I am. My first step in any design process is to research the market and the competition. I may consider myself a web designer, but the marker in me sets the design parameters.