Many people would argue that web design is no longer a vital requirement for businesses and site owners in general. Obviously that is not to say that websites themselves are becoming irrelevant, because that’s far from the case, and the quality of those sites is certainly not irrelevant either. Many have simply suggested that the actual process of getting a website professionally designed is not something that matters much any more. But is this really true?
Web design companies have been around for decades now, having first started to appear in the mid- to late-1990s. Originally it was so complicated to create a functional website, and the technology was all so new, that only a select handful of people knew how to do it well. Over the years, the industry became increasingly easy to get into, but as user requirements became more and more demanding at the same time, we have always seen a shortage of talent compared with demand.
In fact, professional designers have made a killing over the years because businesses were faced with the prospect of needing a fantastic website to stay competitive and having no in-house resources to do the job themselves. The other factor driving the web design industry is the fact that no website really stays modern for more than two or three years, and eventually needs to be overhauled again to keep up with the times.
But now things are arguably changing. Designers and developers are no longer the focus of the work involved in producing a new website. The needs of users (and search engines like Google) are increasingly becoming the concern of business owners, looking to unite their online and offline marketing strategies along with better integration with their websites. A few additional technological factors are helping this process along, including…
Now that most websites use existing content management systems (CMS), pre-made themes are the default starting point. This is good for website owners because development time is much shorter, costs are lower and there’s a huge amount of help and support already online for their specific website platform. Not having to reinvent the wheel for each and every new site is a great advantage in almost every sense.
However, it does mean that many popular templates have started to dominate the market. Not only does this make browsing the web a little more repetitive than it once was, but designers are finding themselves out of a job.
Content is the focus
Gimmicks are simply not needed in web design any more. Users are no longer particularly impressed by flashy design features, and search engines actively hate them a lot of the time, so they’re not worth the effort. Design trends are minor and subjective, because what matters is the content itself. Tried and tested methods, with a little personalisation where appropriate, are much more in demand. Again this means designers simply don’t need to work so hard, and business don’t need to pay them to.
AI is already growing
Have you come across anyone with a website designed using artificial intelligence? You may well have without noticing, because programs already exist to match up existing design techniques with content and branding to automatically assemble websites which are attractive, functional and professional. Scary though this may sound, and basic though the software may be at present, it’s likely this trend will continue to making real designers increasingly redundant.
Mobile users don’t want design
As search traffic is already made up mostly by mobile users, and websites are increasingly focused on delivering content fast to those users, design really is becoming mostly irrelevant at times. It’s more about the speed of accessing information than it is about being impressed by formatting, styling and even graphics. Mobile-friendly websites have to follow certain patterns in order to work well, and these options severely restrict what designers can do creatively.
With all this in mind, however, another angle could be considered. Perhaps web designers are not on the verge of irrelevance, only a certain approach to web design. The fact is that many companies and individuals who need websites still don’t have the first clue about how to go about getting a new one and making it a success. What they lack is not necessarily access to the tools they need, but the expertise to properly implement them.
As a result, we predict that there will be a continued rise in the popularity of online marketing and service providers who incorporate web design into what they offer. There is nothing to say that everyone will suddenly become a web design expert and take over the industry, as long as professionals acknowledge that things have changed over the years and offer a suitable service for modern client requirements.
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