Web Developer Vs Web Designer👨‍💻 What Tradies Need to Know with Stuart Mclean

The Digital Tradie Podcast | Episode 8

G’day Legends!

In this episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Stuart, who has made a fascinating transition from being a tradie to a web developer. Stuart’s story is a testament to the endless possibilities available when you decide to pivot your career. We discussed everything from web design basics to the nitty-gritty of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The Basics: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

We started by breaking down the three core technologies that make up most web pages:

  1. HTML: This is the backbone of your web page. It defines the structure and the content.
  2. CSS: This is all about style. CSS makes your page look good with colors, fonts, and layouts.
  3. JavaScript: This adds the magic. JavaScript makes your web page interactive and dynamic.

Web Design vs. Web Development

One of the key topics we tackled was the difference between a web designer and a web developer. Many tradies looking to get their business online might not know who they need. Stuart explained it well:

  • Web Designers focus on the aesthetics and usability of a site. They use tools like WordPress with builders like Elementor or Divi to create visually appealing websites without needing deep coding knowledge.
  • Web Developers handle the technical side. They write code to implement complex features and ensure the site functions smoothly. This is where HTML, CSS, and JavaScript come into play.

WordPress and Block Builders

WordPress is a popular platform for creating websites because of its flexibility and the vast ecosystem of plugins. However, as Stuart pointed out, it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword. Builders like Elementor and Divi make it easy to create sites, but they can also add a lot of unnecessary code, slowing down your site.

The Pros and Cons of Block Builders

Stuart shared some valuable insights into the pros and cons of using block builders:

  • Pros:
    • Easy to use: No deep coding knowledge required.
    • Quick setup: Faster to get a site up and running.
    • Flexibility: A wide range of themes and plugins to choose from.
  • Cons:
    • Performance issues: Can add unnecessary code, slowing down your site.
    • Limited customisation: Sometimes challenging to make specific changes without diving into the code.
    • Maintenance: Regular updates needed to keep everything running smoothly.

Tips for Tradies

  1. Keep It Simple: Your site doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Focus on making it fast and user-friendly.
  2. SEO Matters: Use SEO plugins to ensure your site is easily found on Google.
  3. Ask Questions: When hiring someone to build your site, ask about their approach and the tools they use. Make sure they’re considering site speed and SEO from the start.

The Future of Trades: Flexibility and Adaptability

We also discussed the importance of flexibility in the trades. As the digital world evolves, so too must the trades. Offering flexible working hours and being open to new technologies can set your business apart. Stuart shared his experiences of needing flexibility to balance his coding work with teaching jujitsu, emphasizing how crucial it is for employers to adapt to the changing landscape.

Learning to Code: Stuart’s Advice

For those interested in learning to code, Stuart offered some great advice:

  • Start Small: Begin with basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Use Open Source Resources: Platforms like Udemy and The Odin Project offer excellent courses.
  • Practice: Work on small projects and gradually take on more complex tasks.
  • Get Involved: Contribute to open-source projects on platforms like GitHub to build your skills and network.

The Importance of a Well-Structured Website

A well-structured website is essential for user experience and SEO. Stuart emphasized the need for clean, efficient code and the dangers of overloading a site with too many plugins or unnecessary features. We also touched on the importance of responsive design – ensuring your site looks great on all devices, from desktops to smartphones.


I had a bloody awesome chat with Stuart, and I hope you found our conversation helpful. If you’re a tradie looking to get online, remember that a well-constructed, fast-loading, and SEO-optimized website can make all the difference. Whether you choose a web designer or a web developer, understanding the basics will help you make informed decisions.

Thanks for tuning in to “The Digital Tradie.” Make sure to like and leave a review on the podcast, and share it with your mates. Until next time, keep creating legendary content!

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David List

G'day ya LEGEND! I'm an Tradie of almost 20 years (sparky to be exact), who started to make videos on YouTube, TikTok and LinkedIn, as a way of passing on my knowledge. One thing lead to another and I realised I could make more impact helping Tradies with my own business. So, LIST Media and Trade Magnet were born! Helping Tradies Convert with Online Content.

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