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  1. #1
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    Question Web design: A dying art?

    Hello all,

    I am beginning to believe that web design is slowly dying off. The reason I think this is because with popular software like WordPress and Drupal out there, it almost makes it pointless to learn web design.

    Why would someone new to websites want to spend hundreds of hours reading and practicing web design when he/she can just download pre-made templates from other web designers? I mean with the thousands and thousands of templates out there, you can probably find a design that matches 99% of what you want it to do...even for the most obscure niches. Here is a blog post that makes a really good point: http://blog.readysetconnect.com/2008...ate-designers/

    Years ago, if you wanted to start a website you had to learn EVERYTHING yourself...but now there is no need for that. What I think will happen is that there will be fewer new talent entering the field because web design skills are no longer required to start a website. This will mean there will be a smaller, older population of skilled designers who have ability vs a large population of people who are just meer website software operators.

    The small population of skilled designers will definitely be in high demand though....who else would be able to build a website from scratch?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Evangelist BJ Duncan's Avatar
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    I agree to a certain point about what you say, however, I don't believe that web design is a dying art. I guess it is a case of "do you want to just 'drive a car' or be a 'mechanic'?".

    Anyone can go and buy a car and drive it, but if you want to modify it or maintain it, it is best to know how it works to be able to fix it.

    I guess it is about whether you want to just 'know' what you're doing or 'understand' what is happening. Although I am more into programming, I certainly do not discount the importance of web design. We live in such a judgemental world where looks and glammer play a massive role, there is no different with web design. After a period of time, these default settings of drupal and word press will become very mundane and there will be web designers required to make one site stand out more then another.
    Regards,
    BJ Duncan

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbbrock1 View Post
    Why would someone new to websites want to spend hundreds of hours reading and practicing web design when he/she can just download pre-made templates from other web designers?
    Because he/she wants to stand out from the crowd? Templates are fine if you're satisfied with a plain vanilla site, but if you want to signal that you take your website seriously it can be better to do something on your own.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbbrock1 View Post
    Why would someone new to websites want to spend hundreds of hours reading and practicing web design when he/she can just download pre-made templates from other web designers?
    more to the point why would a client want to pay someone/some company to spend many hours making a site from scratch? well if all you were going to make the client was a pretty standard broshureware site then there is no reason. but if you were going to make them a tailored in an inventive way to what they do, and more importantly to what would benefit their prospective clients (assuming we're talking about some company) then a template alone isn't going to be much use to you or them.

    this is the whole thing with technology; it makes things easier at which point humans get a promotion: they're afforded the opportunity to spend their resources on something above what's just been automated. consider it a promotion. now you can start pointing your thoughts towards more human real issues (making a genuinely useful website for you client's clients for example) than worrying about pixel positioning or whatever small not very important issue.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Because he/she wants to stand out from the crowd? Templates are fine if you're satisfied with a plain vanilla site, but if you want to signal that you take your website seriously it can be better to do something on your own.
    Yes that is true but...what will happen when that same person actually starts building the website? That first site is going to suck...then he/she will think 'I guess I could just use that template that I liked because it looks so much better than this junk that I just made' - and not only that but you also get that sweet CMS backend that you wouldnt get with a custom(well you could but you better add another 2 years onto your web design training)

    I know that there are people that want to acquire the skill of web design...but I was not aiming this post at them. Im talking about the average guy who just wants a website. That was me years ago but that was when you had to do it all yourself...

  6. #6
    SitePoint Evangelist Ed Seedhouse's Avatar
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    Someone told me in 1976 that in five years computers would be programming themselves...
    Ed Seedhouse

  7. #7
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    Im not a web designer, but i have made an almost complete website-store. I build it in weebly.com

  8. #8
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by dbbrock1 View Post
    Yes that is true but...what will happen when that same person actually starts building the website?
    As with every other profession, you'll have to learn and learn and then learn some more before you're good at it. And as with any other business, if web design isn't your core business then you'll hire a professional to do the site for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by dbbrock1 View Post
    Im talking about the average guy who just wants a website.
    They can choose to buy a Template and fudge the rest themselves, probably ending up with a mediocre site at best. Or they can hire a professional, which will cost more but give a much better site (if they hire a real professional).

    It's no different than an amateur designing his/her own sales brochures vs hiring an ad agency to do it professionally.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  9. #9
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    I spent an hour on the phone with one of my design referral companies suggesting they develop a blog design program for $2500. Sure, choose a template, but even that has to be customized. And, nearly every blog post "should" have some type of graphic image...hint, hint...do I hear an annual design fee coming??

    Add-in the knowledge of what plugins to install and you have yourself a worthy blog package that will syndicate every post nationwide.

  10. #10
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    I don't think it is dying out. I think there are still very few people that can design good websites. Our company seems to be flourishing quite nicely and this is because video, media and online shops are improving, as well as a content managed work systems and blogs for companies. Web will never die out as there is always something new.

  11. #11
    Floridiot joebert's Avatar
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    The small population of skilled designers will definitely be in high demand though....who else would be able to build a website from scratch?
    That made my day.
    I've been feeling like I wasted the last 5 years of my life lately.

  12. #12
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Because we are blending programming with design, the skill set for the designer has increased. Even with applications like Drupal and Wordpress, a good designer is able to make something impressive and unique.

  13. #13
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    Today life is very fast.people don't have time time to build themselves.i also designed my website with in 1 month from.just go for some company who provides you better option to do that.

  14. #14
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    It isn't dying. Even if you buy a template, you customize your site for various reasons:

    1.- to be unique and create an exclusive design, or improve the design from your template (if that's what you have)
    2.- to have a design that is adapted and tailored to your needs
    3.- to have a site that can be promoted in search engines (the code from templates and, specially, codes from CMSs, isterrible)
    4.- to have a site that can be accesible and/or usable (for the same reasons)
    5.- to add content that a template doesn't normally take into account, such as video or flash games

    There are many reasons to create a site from scratch, but even if you don't, you will always have to modify the template you bought and adapt it.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    It's not dying, but evolving - advances in technology have made it easy for people to set up a "ready made" site but as others have said there's lot more to it if you want to stand out in the crowd.

  16. #16
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    As barriers of entry go down, temporarily it might seem that the need for professional webservices also does. However, the demands and desires of the mainstream public are ever increasing therefore also the need of professionals.

    A few years ago simply being able to put up a blog or decent website was enough. Today you need more than that. Web applications are on the rise and frameworks and languages more popular then ever.

    You might need to expand your scope, at most.

  17. #17
    Matt Williams revsorg's Avatar
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    Although anyone can implement a template, not anyone can build a good website. You need a wide range of talents to build a good website.
    work: revs | ecru
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast Jenny McDermott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    Because we are blending programming with design, the skill set for the designer has increased. Even with applications like Drupal and Wordpress, a good designer is able to make something impressive and unique.
    I agree with the above statement, but I think there's more to it than that. I've been following reports of research and testing of Website users for some time and have concluded several things:

    The copywriting is at least as important, if not more important, than the design and graphics. Yes, it has to look nice, but that's secondary. Visitors want information, they're not coming to a site to enjoy its aesthetics.

    Given the incredible size and complexity of the World Wide Web, there's no way any company or nonprofit organization can even come close to getting a decent return on their investment in a site without doing some very serious target marketing. If you can't attract and convert the people who should be doing business with you, you might as well take the money you spend on the site and throw it down a sewer.

    Ninety per cent or more of organizations, both for- and non-profit, who have Websites don't have a clue how to exploit their Web presence to maximize the advantage to the organization. I currently work for a successful manufacturing company with product lines which are in great demand these days. The company's revenues have been growing steadily for some time; they make great products and know how to sell them. However, in going through the documentation for the products to determine where to show them on the new site build, I've been astounded how little attention has been paid to highlighting the company's strengths on the Website. It's like telling someone that's a priceless Ming vase in their hand, and they reply, "You mean this old thing I've been using to feed the cat?"

    The mix of skills that those of us who call ourselves "Web designers" need is a very fluid entity, but I see two distinct paths for designers who want to grow professionally: either become an interactive marketing guru or customer experience designer, or learn how to code Web services, Web-based apps, and so on. I think there is plenty of room to expand into helping companies get better ROI on their sites by studying what causes visitors to actually spend their money (or sign up for subscriptions, download white papers, whatever) online. Or really get into Ajax, Flex and the like.
    "Nobody ever went broke by underestimating
    the taste of the American public." -- H.L. Mencken

  19. #19
    .* draziW tnioPetiS *. bronze trophy
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    Interesting question.

    I think for big sites, you need to know your stuff... But for the average peep, WP (for example) and a pre-built template would probably suffice.

    I prefer to know my stuff, even for the small things. I like the challenge of web design/dev work. I could not do the job I do today if I always used templates and pre-built scripts.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhulse View Post
    I could not do the job I do today if I always used templates and pre-built scripts.
    I can relate to that. I write everything I use for my websites from scratch, that way I know how everything works and can make any adjustment needed. It means I am only limited by the technologies themselves, giving me massive flexibility in what can be achieved. You learn a lot more and become a far more competent programmer if you use your own scripts.

    It has often been said that the code produced by website producing programs is far inferior to a proper web design, leading to poor accessibility, slow loading speeds, and poor search engine compatibility.

  21. #21
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    Reason 1: Designers like to be creative. Using a template is boring.

    Reason 2: Many site owners don't want a carbon copy site.

    Reason 3: There's more incentive for custom sites since they often demand a higher price than a template site. Therefore, many developers will seek to do custom jobs.

    Reason 4: As more people brainlessly install a template for themselves and for their clients, the differentiation between them and the experienced developers will become greater.

    Reason 5: Technology is evolving - we are not forever stuck in this moment. Wordpress, Zen Cart (and Walmart and McDonalds) will one day be overcome by another better/cooler/more efficient solution. As long as there is forward movement, there is opportunity.

    Reason 6: As things and options become more complex, site owners are increasingly handing over the reigns to the experienced - and are willing to pay for it.

    Reason 7: As people become increasingly mindless, I get paid more.

    Reason 8: bla bla bla
    My website: www.sitehatchery.com

    Recent Article: Dynamic CSS

  22. #22
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    I wouldnt say its a dying breed either. Some one has to design the templates! But in all reality, it is ALOT easier in todays day just for the avg person to put together a website. They wont get anywhere customizing it or anything with out some type of knowledge of html, css, php or anything else. Its not dying its just evolving into something else.
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  23. #23
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    My answer to that question is another question:

    What if Apple's website looked like Microsoft's?


    Anyone with half a brain would know exactly where that would lead to.

    My stance to this is (as I stated in another thread):

    Quote Originally Posted by XLCowBoy View Post

    *sigh*


    Reading the posts before me, it's painfully clear that the majority of the people, even on Sitepoint, still do not understand what professional design requires.



    To the OP (and to those who think design == decorating):


    When a client appears that way, we politely explain:

    "Before we begin the actual artwork for a website, we first build a sitemap for you, and a content pyramid to determine which parts will be given primary-level importance, secondary, and so on.

    The sitemap is required to optimize your website for your audience (the end-users), and to allow the possibility of future expansion. If this is not prepared before we begin any work at all, there is a significant chance that your website will be very difficult for your audience to use, and could negatively affect your ROI. Industry studies show that if users cannot immediately find what they are looking for, or they cannot make sense of the content on the site, they exit.

    Also, if a sitemap is not properly designed beforehand, there is a strong possibility that future changes will require a "start from scratch" approach: we highly discourage this as it creates disorientation among users, which can lead to existing users leaving the website before completing the task they had set out to do.

    In that regard, the content pyramid supports the sitemap by providing each section with the appropriate "call-to-action" spots and "focus areas" in order for users to find what they need, and for your party to maximize content exposure.

    After we have presented the above work for your approval, we will then begin designing the user-interface layout, and provide you with the documentation/explanation behind our approach. Once you have agreed to, and understood, the completed blueprints, then we shall begin the graphic-related design work on your website.

    As you can see, there is a reasonable amount of work before we even reach the point of applying graphics, which is why we require a X% down payment beforehand.

    Now, once we have crossed that point, and are in the process of creating your website's graphic design, our primary concern is to either (a)create a design which is homogeneous to your existing brand image, or (b)create a design which is unique and appropriate to your target market, yet tries to avoid alienating other potential markets as well.

    With the amount of websites out there, which number well into the hundreds of millions, it is by no means an easy task. However, as you can see from our track record (we have been featured several times on web design galleries, and won a few local awards and accolades), our experience and expertise are more than capable of delivering the work that is required."



    Once the client realizes the amount of / how much they underestimate the work, they are usually too embarrassed to make any more ignorant demands.

    Unless of course, they're "undesirable" to begin with.


    Yes, I'm sure a lot of people did not realize that is how much work it takes to properly design a website. Proper web design is NOT graphic design or just pretty graphics.

    The above reasons are also why templates do not work, and why contests/spec-work such as those on 99designs are no different than buying a movie poster to "hang" on the index page of your website.


    Sure it looks good; but to quote Frank Gehry: "Ok, then what?".

  24. #24
    SitePoint Guru risoknop's Avatar
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    OP is gibberish. Of course, average Joe will just install some CMS like Drupal/Wordpress/Joomla, download some free template and that's enough for him. But all serious companies and corporations wants to have unique website. All major websites (Digg, Facebook, BBC, CNN, Mixx, Youtube, Yahoo etc...) have unique, hand-coded scripts and unique templates. And that's where future of web designers is. Working for larger companies instead of individuals.

    No, web design is not going to die. It is just going to get more professional and exclusive.

  25. #25
    Django Jedi neron-fx's Avatar
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    total cobblers,

    I have never come across one company or client who was happy to just use WordPress or Drupal etc etc. Companies want to be unique and set apart from their competitors! God the web would be such a bland place if everyone used these bog standard and boring templates with slightly different colours and images. I sincerely hope you are wrong otherwise a lot of people are going to be out of work .... still at least my job as a developer is safe! haha!
    Neron-Fx
    Everytime a user opens Internet Explorer, a web developer dies...
    http://www.savethedevelopers.org/


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