I get asked quite often what the difference is between web design and web programming. In the simplest terms, web design is something anyone can conceivably do. It takes little training and most web editors can do the heavy lifting for you. Add a few photos or videos, and voila, an interactive business card on the web.
Of course not everyone can make a website look good, and this is why website design costs money. It takes time to build a decent website. Graphics design for the website takes even longer. Web design is a blend of textual layout, graphics placement, and link building. Copy writing, or text written for the web, is an art in itself. Maintaining balance of a webpage for keywords, coding the page for easy browser crawling, and maintaining sitemaps are all thought in many circles to be necessary to be found. Optimizing the website for search engines is as important now as building the site itself.
Web Programming takes all the above a step further. Think about the difference in a personal website or a small business website and a fully blown web mammoth like Google or Facebook. These sites take webdesign a step further, creating databases and using web programming languages like PHP, Ruby on Rails, ASP, Java, or many other languages to create a rich web environment. Even video sites like YouTube use Flash and its native language of ActionScript to create interactive environments.
So if you could build your own website, why should you hire someone like me? It takes a keen eye to create a visually pleasing website a user would want to visit, much less stay on. It takes knowledge of how search engines crawl websites and a working idea of how they rank websites in their search results. Good site design and structure as well as maintenance and submission are necessary to be ranked as well. Consulting on using social media to create a brand and interacting with customers is becoming more essential every day.
Should you need a form to search your website, need a secure way for customers to contact you by email, or need a rich shopping cart for customers to order directly online, those are all solved by web programming.