Are You a Web Designer?
It seems our industry is in the middle of a conundrum as to what one should call themselves when asked the pivotal question of 'what does your company do?' The easiest, most laymenesque answer is 'web designer' and for 99% of the U.S. population you would get a nod of understanding. Now to the more experienced audience this term seems very arbitrary. Does that mean you design only? Do you program applications? Do you offer marketing? (Fill in Blank of any other website related profession/service) etc., etc., etc. If you sell cars, you are car dealer? If you sell landscaping services, you are a landscaping company. It just seems like it should be so simple. To the point of this blog lets just take a gander at the various names circling the industry and what they could possibly mean just for fun's sake.
Web Designer - This term would typically reference an individual, perhaps a freelancer. In most cases this person wouldn't just 'design only', rather possess some basic HTML skills so they could actually put together an entire basic website. Anyone that actually does only design would probably refer to themselves as a Graphic Designer.
Webmaster - This term is a bit outdated, but there still is a high demand for it. A Webmaster is simply the person you call to keep your website up to date, fix, etc. Basically a Webmaster is hired to let the world know that the entity behind the site is still breathing. In most cases the Webmaster is the Web Designer who built the site to begin with. Now do you see how this works?
Web Developer(ment) - This term would insinuate that the company/individual has some application programming abilities in the form of PHP, .NET, Java, or God forbid some other type of painful, archaic language. Skill can very extensively, but nonetheless you should at least get these guys to build you a 'hello world' application.
Interactive Agency - An Interactive Agency (at least a real one) is typically going to be your high end, full-on, online marketing campaign company. They typically use various forms of media and promotional techniques to turn a website into a marketing juggernaut, of course, that is if they are good.
Web Agency - A Web Agency is a company that has progressed by truly combining the graphic design, web designer and web developer skill sets and can internally produce anything that can be done specifically for the web. While this type of company may specialize in other services such as Internet marketing, they have their roots in traditional web development.