Designer vs. Consultant: What’s the Difference?A web designer or developer is someone who actually gets their hands dirty. They’re the ones who use coding and design skills to build a website from the ground up. Projects usually only last a couple months, unless maintenance services are offered afterwards. A web consultant is an advisor for those in need of or who already have a website. They can provide a one-time assessment to clients or work as a dedicated advisor and guide. Consultants specialize in the total landscape—from user persona research to optimization of a website and related marketing activities post-launch. As such, a web consultancy enables you to offer as little or as much as you’d like, unlike web design services which are a bit more rigid in nature. In fact, selling consulting as an add-on to your web design plans could prove quite lucrative in and of itself. Not only would you become a total end-to-end provider of website services, but this would help you retain clients over longer periods of time. Plus, as website builder tools grow more and more popular, you may find that many of the clients you would’ve easily sold design services to a year ago now confidently believe they can build a website on their own. And they have a point. Builders have greatly simplified the work that goes into creating professional-looking websites. What these builders haven’t been able to do, though, is teach everyone how to choose the right color palette for accessibility or the right typeface for mobile users. Nor do page builders explain the importance of things like security and speed in the grand scheme of SEO. They may remove the need for someone to do hands-on work on a website (at least in your clients’ eyes), but they haven’t taught these DIY users the why of it all.
Take the Quiz: Are You a Designer or a Consultant?I don’t mean to make this a completely black-or-white question. I believe that you can still build websites for a living while also providing occasional consulting to clients. Or vice versa. In fact, performing a mix of duties might be the perfect way to spice up your workday while bringing some much-needed stability to your income. Use the following quiz to shed some light on whether or not website consulting is a viable path for you: If you’re an implementer through-and-through, consulting isn’t a good choice for you. If you’re not happy with the job anymore, it’s time to look at another career path, like consulting. Consultants are inherently great at project management. If you don’t have the skills or interest, don’t go down that path. Small business owners would appreciate the guidance, but won’t be able to afford your services. Enterprise-level companies will want the total package from you, so unless you have an agency, it may be best to hold off on approaching them. If you’re not a people-person, consulting will be a very bad fit. Consultants aren’t just people-persons. They’re also know-it-alls (but in the good sense). Consultants are voracious learners. They have to be if they want to provide guidance that’s well-informed and valuable. Unless you plan on providing one-off consulting services to clients, planning to consult, design, and develop by yourself just isn’t sustainable.
Is Web Consulting for You?Not everyone is cut out for web consulting. And that’s fine. There are other ways to provide high-priced and recurring services to clients. Like selling website support or maintenance services. But if you’re unhappy with what you’re doing now, don’t let your discontent affect the quality of your work. Find a way to fix it by pursuing a career path that makes the most sense for you. Featured image via DepositPhotos.
Suzanne Scacca is a freelance writer by day, specializing in web design, marketing, and technology topics. By night, she writes about, well, pretty much the same thing, only those stories are set under strange and sometimes horrific circumstances.
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