Lipstick on a Pig: That’s a Web Design Company Without a Real Developer

lipstick on a pig

A web development company without a programmer is like a home-builder without an architect. A train without an engineer. A rebel without a clue.

All those designers and help desk guys are going to make your stuff look great, but you’re never going to be certain if anything is really running on a sound foundation.

And if something goes wrong? Unless your web designer also has network and host server experience (extremely rare), you’re at the mercy of technical support at your giant public web hosting company. Good luck.

Can’t you just go to a free service and drag and drop to make your own beautiful website in an afternoon? Yes. You can also get free, public email, but we strongly recommend against that, too, for a serious business (see page 6).

The web isn’t a bunch of images put on a page. It’s code which serves up images, text, and programs over a global communications network. Ever look at the source code for a web page? Open a website, right click, and select “View page source.” Looks like the Matrix.

That code is mutable. It can get broken or out of date. All those cool tools from your “drag and drop” site have vulnerabilities. That opens your site up to hackers and cyberthieves (see Ongoing maintenance is critical. And that’s what you need a programmer for.

Deeper Into the Matrix

Max Sullivan, our web developer, is a coder for the web. When our clients need custom tools ( Max gets it done – in house. When something isn’t working on the server, or when the e-commerce shopping cart has a problem, Max can fix it.

He also maintains the server which hosts all of our web design and digital identity clients. This means checking for software updates and patching every single one of the 100+ sites that we host. For fun, he also finds ways to make the server more efficient and our websites run faster.

In December, he found a way to adjust the way a majority of our client sites are served, making the sites load – on average – twice as fast. That’s significant for two reasons:

  1. Visitors to a site expect it to load within two seconds and many will leave in three. The longer a page takes to load, the more people will leave and go back to their search results.
  2. Site load speed is an SEO ranking signal to Google. John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, has told site webmasters that they severely limit the number of URLs they’ll crawl from a site if it loads “extremely slow.”

In other words, anything longer than 2 seconds, in web time, is forever. Visitors don’t like it and Google doesn’t like it. A slow site will damage your search results.

Load speed depends on a number of very technical optimization-related aspects of your site. An expert web programmer, working with a skilled designer is going to create a site that looks amazing and is maintained, runs fast, and is built on a strong foundation that supports your business goals.

When you look for a web development company, ask if their team includes a programmer with server experience.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with a cool-looking website that no one can find and that is a waste of your time, money, and effort.