The Death of Web Design
Medium, Shopify, Behance. What do they all have in common? High-quality website templates. No longer does an innovative idea require the web design skills to match; all manner of websites now exist, allowing you to implement that idea without the efforts of an experienced (expensive) web designer. This is perhaps the greatest web design shift of the past 3 years.
By using these templates, we can piggyback on other people’s design skills; usability research, and experience. When creating our own digital home, we needn’t reinvent the wheel. We can borrow someone else’s innovation, saving us time, money, and effort.
How can Web Design be dying?
We live in an age where competition is everywhere. Fueled by the availability of high quality templates paired with a plethora of talent, ideas are abundant and implementation instantaneous. There is no longer an obvious value in custom-built design – we can find cheaper, faster and “safer” means elsewhere. Using a tried and tested design is safer in the sense that we know it works. Custom-built design, though perfectly tailored to your brand’s mission, is an investment that will not necessarily pay itself off. In a world where money rules, there are safer and more financially sound options.
After you have established a website, even the most beautifully crafted design is destined to have audience of two: you and your client. To get ahead of the competition, a strategy is essential: anything from SEO to social media. Hence, the reason why Facebook Pages has become a de-facto web page for small business. The strategy issue is fixed, the web design problem is solved. This convenience saves valuable time and money.
What does this mean for the industry?
The past two years has seen a gigantic shift toward User Experience thinking. Now a popular buzzword within any industry that meddles online, it has never been a better time to be a UX Designer.
This shift is all borne of a need to differentiate ourselves from the competition by outdoing them. We must stay ahead of the pack by providing the best possible experiences to clients and customers.
User experience isn’t web design. User experience is product design.
No longer do we design web pages as self-sufficient entities – we design a package, a service. We ensure our whole online ecosystem adds value to our brand. We ensure our brand beats the competition through our customers experiences with it. Experiences which keep them coming back for more.
Where does this leave web design?
The world changes; industries adapt to new technologies and so must the people working within them. The web designer of 10 years ago is no more. The current state of technology is a different beast to what it was then.
For too long we found ourselves trying to reinvent the wheel, solving and resolving web design problems 100x over. In a competitive world there is no time for that. We need to move away from this information overload and look at solving new problems – brand and industry specific problems.
15 years ago, web design was strewn with problems. We didn’t know how to get the most out of our websites. Over this decade and a half, many people smarter than I have taken these problems and found innovative solutions, putting us in the fortunate position where we now know how to approach a problem and solve it. We have these templates to work with and guide us in finding optimal solutions.
What does the future hold?
I’ll never forget the first time I used Uber. To me it is the perfect example of a great user experience – reinventing the entire taxi model. This isn’t the case of one nice website landing page nor good advertising. The whole system, service, and product as one ecosystem were rethought and built to provide a stunning, memorable experience.
The web designer has given way to an online product designer. This online product designer is the User Experience Designer. This is the future to look forward to.