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Differences between a "Programmer", "Website Builder" and "Computer Tech"

As a programmer, I am often referred to as a "Website builder" or "Computer Guy", and to many people this is one and the same.  As a "Programmer", I can tell you- it isn't.

A good analogy for comparison would be to compare a Guy who services his own car "Website Builder", to a car mechanic "Programmer", and a Computer tech is equivalent to a "Panel Beater", completely different field but vaguely related.

While a "Programmer" may understand computers and networking, we are not specialists in this field and more often than not, our computers and networks cause us as much confusion as they do to the normal user.

"Website Builders" can be anything and are usually untrained, or they have completed a 6 week online course. Sure they might know the basics of simplistic languages like HTML and CSS, but rarely do they understand functional languages.
The problem with being branded as a "Website Builder" (or sometimes mistakenly called "Web Developer"), is if you are a qualified "Programmer" you are being compared to someone who in many cases decided to wake up one morning and start building websites, while a "Programmer" has had to spend years learning and being qualified in their specific trade.

So what is the difference between a Website Builder's websites and a Programmers website?
Depending on the Website Builder, the biggest thing you will find is that the websites are primarily graphic orientated, the websites are static and display information. Many Website Builders use WordPress or similar framework to produce their websites and they have a fundamental understanding of this, but that is usually where it ends.

A Programmers site will be in most cases intelligent, the code used to build it will be their own code (hand written) and not dependant on 3rd party applications to make it work. The server the website is stored on will be their own server and setup to be secure and efficient, where as a Website Builder often uses "Shared" hosting which is unsecured and open to being exploited.

We have had to fix so many clients Websites where a friend of theirs who is a "Website Builder" has built a website for them. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you don't take your business seriously, but if you want your website to be effective, rank in google, track traffic, load fast and provide a platform for not just presenting information but also capturing it then you need to talk to a Programmer.

I was at a BBQ a little while ago where my friend said "Oh you should meet Joe (not his real name), he's like you, he builds websites". I thought initially I was talking with a peer, so I started talking about Code and Languages, shortly there after his eyes glazed over and I knew I had lost him. Turns out he was a "Website Builder" and used Dreamweaver to create websites for his friends and family. I checked out his work later and found his websites didn't rank in google, and had a lot in common with a PowerPoint presentation.

A programmer builds applications
This is the key difference between a Website Builder and a Programmer, Programmers build applications that do things, such as content management systems, Inventory systems, HR systems, CRM, etc. A Website Builder glues images together using a 3rd party application, html and css. A good point of comparison is that I have started teaching my 8 year old daughter to write HTML.

What to look for in a Website builder
Always choose the "Programmer", we will get it right.
How do you tell? Check out their linked in profile, a Programmer will advertise himself with his experience, we are proud of our history as we had to work and study for it, where as a Website Builder will either not have a profile or the profile will be related to a different industry. Sometimes a Website Builder will have their experience listed with building websites, so look for experience building "Applications".

Finally think of your website as an entity, it should grow and develop with your business, a Programmer understands this and will build the site from the start ready to be expanded upon, the site will be made so that it is informative but also captures information and provides tools to help you business, not just a static online business card.

"Computer Tech" or "Computer Guy"

These guys are completely different to a Programmer, and a good "Computer Tech" is quite simply worth your time to refer to correctly. Because computers and networks are simply a major pain (particularly to Programmers). You have to have the patients of a saint to work on them everyday.

Stu McGavin

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