Are you a designer/developer or just an activator?

I started doing web design/development back in 1999 when I was in the Army. At my first duty station, they made me a Webmaster and sent me to my first HTML-coding class.

Since then, I’ve graduated from an application called FirstPage to Microsoft FrontPage to Macromedia Dreamweaver to Adobe Dreamweaver to WordPress/JOOMLA!/Drupal to using Dreamweaver and WordPress/JOOMLA!/Drupal together as a web designer/developer.

Then there’s all the other stuff, like XHTML, HTML5, CSS 1/2/3, XML, JavaScript, AJAX, jQuery, PHP, SQL, XML; not to mention OOP, the DOM, Web Services and so on.

Let’s not forget Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Muse. I use those, too.

Since I got out of the Army in 2006, I’ve trained other people, on the corporate and community college levels, to use web design/development applications and web languages. I’m also an instructor at a community college where I teach Dreamweaver, Photoshop, HTML5/CSS3, Bootstrap, WordPress and Illustrator classes, along with Grammar classes. You can’t have great web content without great grammar. 🙂

I teach what I do, and I do what I teach.


I’ve had more than one person contact me because their “web designer” wasn’t able to do simple things like change their banner image or change the link color or change the font size.

Really? Wow.

Almost always, they’re contacting me about WordPress sites.

I had this to say to a person who contacted me through Facebook:

It’s a developer you need to customize this WordPress theme. The person who is working on your site didn’t “design” it. He/she purchased a design already created. Redesigns are done by developers. Designs are done by graphic designers. Designers/developers do both.

It annoys me when I see people advertising themselves as web designers/developers who can’t do anything but activate a WordPress theme.

I’d venture to say the proliferation of these so-called web designers with no real skills are a direct result of social media.

One minute a person in my Twitter timeline is a music agent. The next minute that same person is offering WordPress packages for $250!


People who don’t know any better are jumping on that, because they think it’s a great deal.

They pay their new “web designer” $250, and their “web designer” finds a free WordPress theme, changes the title text and says, “Hey, your site’s done. I hope you like it!”

Being none-the-wiser, the client looks at the site, and they’re just so glad to finally have a web presence, they’re like, “This is so great. Thank you!”

Really? Wow.

You just paid $250 for something you could have done yourself by going to YouTube and watching a few WordPress for Beginners videos.


A web designer/developer doesn’t shun WordPress or WordPress themes.

He/she just knows how to customize WordPress themes. If you want your site set up on WordPress, you need a developer more than you need a designer. WordPress themes are already designed.

Check out these sites:

This is what the WordPress theme looked like before:


This is what I made it look like after I redesigned it:


I used the same theme on these three sites: Thesis:




This is what Thesis looks like on a fresh install:



Make sure you know what you’re getting when you hire a web designer/developer. Are you hiring someone who actually designs and/or develops, or are you hiring someone who activates themes?

Quick Tips:

  • Ask a potential web designer/developer the steps he/she plans to use to create your site.
    • If he/she mentions Wix or VistaPrint or some other plug-and-play site…RUN!
    • If he/she is vague about his/her process…RUN!
    • If he/she takes too long to reply to your email…RUN!

You can see my complete portfolio at

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