Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Web Designers?

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Update (27.09.2010): this article caused quite a heated debate in the design community. Please read the rebuttal of this article, called I Want To Be A Web Designer When I Grow Up here, at Smashing Magazine.

— Vitaly Friedman, editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine

It seems that new posts about what the Internet has in store for us down the road pop up every week or two. Some propose that the Internet will deliver more of the same, but different somehow (it’s usually ambiguous just how), while others propose such radical changes that it’s hard to believe they could ever happen. And the truth is, none of us really know what will happen with the Internet in 10 or 15 years.

After all, it was only a little more than 15 years ago that Clifford Stoll wrote the now-infamous “The Internet? Bah!” post (subtitled: “Hype Alert, Why Cyberspace Isn’t, and Will Never Be, Nirvana”). In that post he detailed why a lot of things just wouldn’t happen online but most of which are now commonplace.

As web designers and developers, what the future holds for the Internet is imperative for our livelihoods. If the Internet has radical changes in store for us, we need to understand how they might effect what we do to earn a living and what we’ll need to do to adapt and keep pace — if that’s even possible.

The Future is Content and Data

Look at your mobile phone. If you’re like most tech-savvy consumers, you’ve likely got a smartphone of the Apple or Android variety (or maybe a Blackberry, especially if you’re working in the corporate world). Most of us use our smartphones on a near-constant basis doing everything from checking email to working on projects to entertaining ourselves. How much of all that do you do in your phone’s browser?

The answer is probably “not much”.

We use an app to check email. We use the Facebook app for status updates. We use Twidroid or TweetDeck or the official Twitter app for tweeting. We use a YouTube app to watch videos. We use the Pandora or Last.fm apps for streaming music.


Mozilla Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop. Is this the future of mobile applications?

It’s likely a similar scenario on our desktop or laptop computer. We use apps for a lot of our common Internet-based activities. We even have options to create our own apps with single-site browsers (like Fluid or Prism). And Google’s Chrome OS is just around the corner with devices already planned to use the web-based OS.

Content is king and design is becoming less relevant – we’re already seeing this with mobile themes

Look at how many WordPress sites use one of less than a handful of standard mobile themes. It doesn’t matter what the site looks like in a standard browser; open it up in your mobile browser and you’re often greeted with a page that looks exactly like the last 10 sites you visited.

This is because for most users, design is irrelevant. That’s not to say they don’t appreciate good design. Many of them do (and many of them don’t). But they’re on a website because of the content. They don’t care about visual design, and they don’t care about interaction designer that much, either: as long as the design doesn’t give them a headache or interfere with their ability to find what they want, they don’t really care how exactly it looks like or how exactly it is working. The most widely-used mobile themes offer the content in an optimized format for mobile viewing. That makes users happy.

It is not just apps that reduce the need to visit a website

It’s not just apps that will pull data directly, without the need for an actual website. Devices are making real headway in this manner. We have cars now that can pull information from the Internet for you. Soon devices for Google TV will be out in the marketplace, pulling video content from the Internet without the need to visit a website.

Google TV
Soon devices for Google TV will be out in the marketplace, pulling video content from the Internet without the need to visit a website.

It’s likely that more devices will add Internet integration in the near future. At some point we’ll probably have refrigerators that automatically generate shopping lists for us (including any available coupons and where the best prices can be found that week): based on previous shopping habits; what we currently have; and our average usage rates for different foods. This is just one example of how online data and content will become infinitely more important than the designs surrounding that content.

Content Will Be Funneled Through a Handful of Sources

It’s impractical to have apps for every website we visit. Most of us visit hundreds or thousands of websites every year. What’s more likely to happen is that most of our content will be delivered through aggregators.

Who will these aggregators be?

Currently, there are three big players on the Internet that are likely to continue to be the primary content delivery platforms. Who are they? Twitter, Facebook and Google. Think about where you spend most of your time online and you’re likely going to find that those are the sites you visit most often. This market share is only going to increase.

Facebook is already trying to be the Internet

Look at how much content is now aggregated through Facebook. They have pages for virtually every topic under the sun (most of which have canned content taken directly from Wikipedia). Post a YouTube video to Facebook and your friends can watch it right there, without ever leaving Facebook. Even third-party applications like Networked Blogs stick pretty closely to the Facebook environment.

Facebook apps
Post a YouTube video to Facebook and your friends can watch it right there, without ever leaving Facebook. Even third-party applications like Networked Blogs stick pretty closely to the Facebook environment.

Besides that, look at the gaming environment that’s cropped up on Facebook. I’ve lost track of how many updates in my news feed are directly related to games like Farmville or Mafia Wars. Facebook has grown into such a complete online ecosystem that many users might never find a reason to leave. Facebook shows no signs of slowing down either. They’re expanding their business and their reach – a trend that’s likely to continue for as long as they can sustain it.

Google wants everything to go through them

Google already has its hands in virtually everything online. It has two operating systems (Chrome OS and Android), its own browser, web applications that allow you to do a lot of things that used to be limited to desktop applications and the most-used search engine in the world put it in a pretty solid position to continue to be a major stakeholder in the future Internet.

Google is also one of the more forward thinking and active participants in Internet policy and technology. It has a vested interest in how the Internet shapes up in coming years and will push to shape that Internet in a way that benefits its business model. I can see a future where Google doesn’t just offer a list of search engine results, but actually shows you the content you’re looking for without ever leaving their sites.

If you look at Google’s complete product offering, it’s easy to see that it wants to be the primary online destination for most people (or maybe even all people). Google is firmly positioned in blogging, video, search, business applications, webmaster tools, ecommerce and even phone services – expect its reach to expand even more.

Is there room for other services?

There are always going to be innovative startups online. Most will fall by the wayside soon after they’re started or are absorbed into other established companies. A select few will go on to become major influencers online. It’s unclear at the moment where there’s room for new companies and services online. The idea of more location-based services (going beyond FourSquare, et al) is probably the most promising as well as services that go beyond normal Internet activities and integrate into daily life more.

Function Will Prevail over Form

If everyone is accessing web content through an app rather than a browser, then no one will care what a website looks like. The way it functions and the content it delivers will become the paramount concerns to users. There will be no more balancing of form and function on a website; function will override form.

Form will retain a place in the design of apps. In all likelihood, content will be open to the extent that APIs will be developed that anyone can then use in application development – so the form in which an app displays that data will become what separates the good from the bad, the great from the mediocre.

There are Advantages…

There are some big advantages to this kind of model where apps and a small number of content aggregators deliver and control most of the content online. One issue is bandwidth. If there’s no design being transferred to a device (because the application on the device already includes all the design elements), that saves bandwidth. As more and more activities are done online, we’re going to have to consider infrastructure costs. Lower bandwidth use per site will result in more bandwidth available.

Another advantage is that there’s more potential for user control. Users can define their preferences on their device and see content in the way they want. This especially has positive implications when it comes to accessibility. Those who need special settings because of a disability will no longer have issues with unviewable content.

Technical advantages

Let’s face it: the technologies upon which the Internet is built aren’t the most efficient ones available. Part of this has to do with building upon infrastructure that isn’t as good as it could be. The Internet has to be backwards-compatible over very long periods of time. We can’t just suddenly change things, even if it is to make things work better in the future, if it causes half the sites out there to no longer function.

With a content-based Internet that uses device-side applications for displaying data and performing tasks, we can create more efficient applications. We won’t need to make sure each application can handle a huge variety of content and processes (as browsers currently have to do), because we’ll know exactly the kinds of data that application will need to process.

What Does It Mean for Users?

Practically, users will have a more integrated experience with the content they view and the services they use online. The Internet will become even more a part of everyday life, incorporated to such an extent that it’s seamless. It’s already happening in bits and pieces.

Again, look at your phone. You probably use apps or widgets for things like checking the weather or generating a shopping list. These apps will become more integrated and will work better with the data available online. For example, you could use that shopping list to automatically find the best prices on products, either online or at your local stores. In all likelihood, that data would be aggregated through a service like Google Base.

One profile fits all

An online profile will become even more important for users. Rather than setting up every device or service you have, you’ll simply authorize the device to grab your profile and preference information from the web. Security and privacy experts will have a field day with this, but most consumers will opt to use it anyway if it means the difference between going through a two-hour manual setup process or clicking a button and authorizing it to set everything up automatically.

What Does It Mean for the Web Design Industry?

So what does this all boil down to? If the web becomes app-based and content-based, where do web designers fit in — if at all? The bad news is that if the Internet starts relying much more heavily on access via app rather than browser, there’s going to be a lot less demand for web designers. Companies won’t see the point in hiring someone to create an entirely bespoke website when they can just use a template and then feed all their content to Google and Facebook and Twitter.

Developers, on the other hand, will likely see a boom in business. A lot of money will be exchanging hands for apps that work better than current offerings and apps that might be able to undermine the big players. Of course, all these apps also need design work, but it will be a lot less demand than there is now for website design. It’s likely a lot of designers will need to expand their offerings to cater to content creation rather than just web design.

Websites aren’t going to go away any time soon. It’s likely that there will be a bigger market for templates and themes as companies stop paying for custom designs. And there will be certain kinds of sites (like portfolios or art projects) that will always want to be designed.

Multimedia content will also still have a strong market. Those who can produce high-quality videos and even web-based apps (for things like Chrome OS) will have a strong business for years to come.

Who Wins in All This?

If there’s a definite winner in this possible future Internet, it is the content creators. If the only thing that sets one company or organization apart from their competition, then those who can create high-quality content will be in high demand. The thousands of dollars that a company used to be spent on website design will be funneled into website content instead.

Users will also benefit as they’ll have a more integrated, customized experience. Their version of the Internet will be tailored specifically to them, based on their own wants and needs. They’ll get content in the manner they prefer and find most usable.

Application developers will also likely win in all this. While the APIs and the data available will be pretty standardized, the manner in which it’s displayed will become a battleground of creativity. Innovation here will be key, doing something different and better than what everyone else is doing is the only way an app will stand out.

Update

Update (26.09.2010): We’ve got quite many negative responses for this article, like Web Designers Won’t Die Out, They Will Transition. At Smashing Magazine, we are aiming for strong, high quality articles and after reading the article we do think that it raises some valid points, and now in retrospect we understand why the title and the content may appear to be aggressive. We also can see where the accusation of trying to be sensationalist comes from. But it was never the intention of the article.

We are trying to do our best to provide only relevant and high qualilty content, but apparently sometimes we see our things differently than our readers do. We do appreciate constructive criticism like the above post on Drawar. And we are listening to what you are saying. And we will certainly keep it in mind for our future articles.

Update (27.09.2010): this article caused quite a heated debate in the design community. Please read the rebuttal of this article, called I Want To Be A Web Designer When I Grow Up here, at Smashing Magazine.

— Vitaly Friedman, editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine

(afb)

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

  1. 1

    Seems like I should look for a career change.

    -2
    • 2

      same here :(

      1
    • 3

      Please dont go by the article…. it has no thoughts.. just words put together mean nothing…

      -1
      • 4

        Do the words “I love you?” mean anything to you?
        Do the words, “I’m sorry, she didn’t pull through?” mean anything to you?
        A string of words is, of course, important. Words have power.

        0
    • 5

      Ha ha … I know you read this one.

      0
      • 6

        This is MADNESS!!!!

        0
        • 7

          no, this is SPARTAAAA!!!!

          13
        • 8

          CORRECTION!

          If this was a term paper in school it would pass. Its like saying the clothing industry should get rid of its designers because people will not care in the future so long as they have something to cover themselves. But lets welcome you into the REAL world of the Internet. Few CRITICAL points you over looked:

          1. We DON’T design websites for companies, even their staff could care-less. We design them for their customers. So customers are King (not content) and content comes after customers. So we find out what clients want first, then we put it in there in the way they want it.
          2. iPhones and other dagdets: we are the ones who do that too. Am sure you forgot. Without us, no content on gadgets (the boss can’t do that.)
          3. Entertainment is not the only thing we do on the internet. Serious business is also happening. We shop, buy, compare etc before making a decision. Well designed websites save clients thousands of dollars they would otherwise use in phone calls and transit. Oh, and did I mention that the reason we find information quickly on the internet depends on design? Can I also mention a majority of visitors to any site have no time to read? So we use icons etc to catch attention?

          AM JUST SCRATCHING MY HEAD WONDERING, IF ITS NOT A DESIGNER WHO PUTS CONTENT FOR DISPLAY ON THE INTERNET (USING TAGS) NO MATTER HOW EXCELLENT OR SHODDY, WHO DOES?!?

          I can go on and on and on. Designers go through hundreds of websites each day and we see trends every morning when taking coffee. Your article CAN’T even be considered as an opinion! Do more research!

          0
          • 9

            You could go on?

            I’d prefer if you didn’t.

            The article is clearly editorial in nature and your absolutist stance to its nature is ironic.

            Great work, Cameron.

            0
    • 10

      I can take this as an opinion, not as a rule. And if I might have an oppinion I’d say this is like saying fashion might become a thing for the past because people will not care how clothes looks like, but rather they’ll care to feel warm in their clothes, so fashion designers won’t have a place in the industry.

      2
      • 11

        Exactly, and there will always be the need for someone to design those functional and practical clothes to ensure they are functional and practical. If you leave it to someone who knows nothing about designing clothes they will make a horror show of short sleeves, tight gussets, weak seams, badly placed zips etc.

        Even the article above confirms that website design will be less important so long as it doesn’t give the user a headache or make them want to leave – experienced designers know how to do this.

        The likelihood is that there will be higher demand for experienced designers and a lot less demand for new and inexperienced ones.

        ….and no, developers generally cannot design well at all.

        There is also likely to be a backlash against Facebook and Google when people begin to realise the criminal way in which their personal data is being used and that government intelligence agencies in collaboration with the incoming global fascist one world state are using these platforms to psychologicially profile people and censor and eliminate all ‘thought crime’.

        There are good alternatives, competition is healthy!

        6
  2. 13

    This is a realy nice Article, exciting thing to think about :)

    I think the profession ‘webdesigner’ goes very well hand in hand with ‘ui design’ or ‘interaction designer’, whatever one wants to call it. For that reason i think that even it’s for a website or for a app, it still needs a good and nice design and UI.
    My guess is that already a lot of app builders/designers are also webdesigners.

    Besides that, i realy don’t believe in the future of apps! Wow that’s a real statement isn’t it? :) Yes it is! But for some reason i think the range of platforms is becoming too wide for everyone to just keep up and building the same single app for different platforms. It’s getting way too expensive for most of the businesses.

    Plus we have the powerfull development of html. like html5; almost everything is possible with html5. The BIG plus: No need to build for different platforms, just once and for mobile devices maybe some screen adjustments. But that won’t be a problem.

    I could go on and on about this but my guess?: Yes there always will be apps, but overall HTML and co. will win the battle and webdesigners will evolve with it and remain supreme ;)

    3
    • 14

      Agreed – it’s likely that HTML/CSS will become increasingly important within the App space – there’s already a variety of x-platform toolkits for producing ‘native’ Apps using web technologies as the UI framework – Palm/HP’s WebOS and ChromeOS will only increase this. Apps need design as much as pages do.

      And I say this despite the fact that as a software developer with experience of other desktop application frameworks, I’m still unconvinced that HTML and CSS are the right tools for the job. But then I didn’t rate Intel or Windows in the 80s, preferred ADA to C++, and know from experience that popular technologies with a low learning curve usually beat superior but lesser known ones.

      Equally, the web has always been about content. It’s just early on people who couldn’t / wouldn’t / didn’t see the point of design would use GeoCities, or Frontpage, or whatever tool-of-the-day was available. Now maybe they use Blogger or WordPress, which is slightly better for our eyes! Equally a lot of smaller stores and sellers can now use Etsy or Folksy.

      And of course web designers themselves often build on increasingly standardised underlying software platforms, which in turn offer basic templates, to speed up the process.

      But I don’t think any business that would previously have actually employed a designer to create their web presence, brand, will shift over to a standard template.

      For most businesses, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter may be alternative channels to reach their customers, but they don’t want their brand subsumed into someone else’s.

      A final point – the desire to build once for All Platforms is strong amongst developers and designers – but we should always stop and understand why users choose particular platforms. X-platform apps were often rejected by Mac users because the developers had little understanding of how the Mac OS differed from Windows in terms of basic UI conventions, keyboard shortcuts, integration with the wider system (i.e. not using the system-wide dictionary and keychain).

      Now I don’t own any smartphone or tablet (yet) but I would wager that there are already similar platform differences, and of course device differences (owners of phones with GPS or other positioning would expect your code to use this feature, for instance).

      The right way to do this is to build a re-usable core, but understand the differences between platforms – and make sure your clients understand any trade-offs.

      (Lowest common denominator cross-platform may often be the right answer – many firms don’t have the budget for anything else. On the other hand, if you’re designing something to sell via the iPhone App Store, don’t think that you can do it by owning an Android phone and never using anything Apple).

      0
    • 15

      Jules,
      I agree with you 100%, every designer / developer needs to apply their skill sets to as many markets it can apply to in order to ensure employment in the future and now.

      As far as designing for the web browser going away all together.. I’m not too sure about that. Even if all that remains is enthusiest designer, there will always be a need for webdesigns.

      0
    • 16

      I totally agree – It’s all gonna be about GUI/UX design and interaction in the future. As technology develops more into touch and motion detection with design and displays, design can only progress with it. But I think minimalism will play a big part. The possibilities are pretty exciting really; but graphic design and visual interaction will always be a big part of digital progression and user experience. Without design and imagery… content would be boring :)

      -2
    • 17

      I strongly second on that!!! Very well said partner!

      -2
    • 18

      Same here. If every thing is controlled by app still you need UI designer. To put every thing in place you need them for sure.

      -2
  3. 19

    I believe that it’s just part of the flow in the way things develop…. It’s the exact same thing with the fashion industry.

    In this case we will just have to wait until every single PC, notebook, iPad, smartphone is just overloaded with apps. At that point it won’t be new anymore and it will need something to spice it all up a little. Usually the first steps in doing so is enhancing the aesthetic feel….

    Nice moment to share my favourite quote… “All art is quite useless.” by Oscar Wilde… But we’ll always want to make life look a little better!

    3
  4. 20

    I think the difference between apps and websites already is trivial, and will become even more so in the near future.

    -3
  5. 21

    There are a couple different factors at play here. Consider the professional photography industry and other niche markets. I guarantee that if your business puts up a template, you’ll be laughed at. Templates have no business in a world where personalization trumps everything else. Prospective clients are going to a website not just for content, but for the experience that the brand is willing to offer. Not to mention that if you’re in the business of selling yourself, a high profile custom website speaks volumes about your dedication to your chosen niche market.

    0
  6. 27

    Content should definitely never be overlooked… especially now that most everyone needs to play the SEO game to some degree.

    But even as companies are turning more and more to mobile optimization and apps, there is still a need for work from designers… somebody needs to make it look pretty.

    The role of web designers is evolving, not dying. So I would say there is room… it’s just a different size / shape room then it’s been in the past.

    0
  7. 28

    With the way this article overlooks obvious facts I’m surprised it’s not on Fox News.

    Just because Facebook and Google and whatever other content aggregators you want to list want everything to come through them doesn’t mean the content will originate with them. There will always be original websites and new web applications that may or may not integrate with these mainstream players.

    It seems like you think there is some kind of trend here but I’d say what you’re claiming is the direct opposite of what’s happening. For instance, while I may find a lot of links through Twitter on my iPhone or iPad, when I click those links, i still see the original website (and it’s design).

    This honestly seems like dis-information or some sort of scare tactic to me. Please think through this stuff in the future.

    4
    • 29

      Agree 100%. I don’t see the companies changing their original web sites for a “Facebook fan pages” in the future. There’s more on the internet than just watching YouTube videos, updating statuses and social networking. I think that web design trend is going towards more “minimalistic” designs, but that’s still a designers job to make it look appealing.

      1
    • 30

      Now ya done it. You had to bring up Fox News. Ok smartass….any link to “overlooking facts”?? Only ones I see overlooking facts are the left wing medias….CNN, MSNBC, NBC, etc.

      Either keep your bias and ignorance out of these discussions, or back up your ignorance with links. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

      But I do agree with you on the scare tactics of this article. There will always be room for web designers.

      -8
      • 31

        Left wing media? Where? That hasn’t existed since the mid 1980′s…
        All we have now is right wing ‘social’ democratic media, and super-strength right wing, bordering on fascist media. The agony of choice!

        -3
    • 32

      Exactly. I find the Fox News remark funny. Everyone else needs to calm the hell down.

      0
    • 33

      I find that “Fox News” comment kind of amusing. That’s the worst news channel in the world. Especially Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Everything that comes out of their mouths are just negative.

      0
    • 34

      That’s also my point: as much content I find on fb and twitter, there is almost NO original content there. fb and twitter are “just” aggregators and only a few businesses have decided to leave their website behind and just market on facebook.
      I just read about those companies and it seems to me as their decision to leave the web and only present themeselves on fb was based on the fact that their websites didn’t perform well and the budget for doing both fb and website isn’t there…

      -1
  8. 35

    I’m glad to see someone else see’s the potential change in a web designer’s future. It can be a little unnerving, especially you’re unable or unwilling to adapt. These days we are expected to be able to do more than create icons and web layouts, with many seeking light programming as well as design.

    One thing I think a lot of designers have that will never go away is usability. Something can be designed beautifully and programmed rock solid, but if people can’t use it, it’s useless. So I think that is one thing a lot of designers have up on the content creators and programmers. Maybe we are evolving from web designers to interface designers?

    Either way, really nice article Cameron.

    -2
    • 36

      Interface designers already exist and have for decades ( even before the WWW). They study UX design and HCI and Human Factors. That’s a point the author overlooks, all those apps she sites as evidence are designed. Computer science learned a long time ago that leaving interactions in the hands of developers who did not understand cognition lead to poorly designed interfaces. She says users don’t care about interaction design. Well why should they it should be so ingrained in the app that it is invisible. Because it is guaranteed that a bad design in terms of usability will make people notice, at least in the past it has on PCs and even on terminal applications.

      -1
  9. 37

    Very good article and a pretty scary, if you ask me. To think that the web will end up being nothing but content fed through a couple apps is not exactly the freedom that the web allows. Personally, I don’t want to get all my content through one source. I prefer going to different blogs to read on specific topics. I like stumbling onto sites while searching for various things online. I like how the design of a site adds to the personality of the content it houses. The thought of companies feeding their info into some ‘content meat grinder’, and losing their individuality online, wouldn’t be much different than automakers churning out their cars under one, bland, gigantor brand. Designers exist for a reason. If we’re relegated to doing nothing more than making templates, then the whole design world will be nothing but a sad assembly line of photoshop mediocrity.

    0
  10. 38

    Interesting as I was just thinking about #NewTwitter and it being an effort to draw some traffic back to their own site rather than people using third party clients like Tweetdeck. This is vitally important from an advertising/revenue perspective.

    -2
  11. 39

    I dunno. Sounds like the content creators will be the big losers here. I mean, what’s in it for them unless there’s some kind of pay-for-use model? Why spend your money providing content for an aggregator and getting nothing in return? The bad content will chase out the good…

    Oh, shit. I forgot. That’s what’s happening right now, isn’t it.

    -1
  12. 41

    You make a lot of good point. – though scary ;) I’m wondering about the idea of companies using templates and themes. Specifically when it comes to branding. Companies wouldn’t want to appear to be cookie cutter.

    -1
  13. 42

    Creativity is king. See Apple, even though they are not the best in offering technology in their products, creativity makes them the largest company

    -2
  14. 46

    Design will always be an important portion of any marketing media. Users will always tell you they don’t care but on a subconscious level they do. That’s the reason why successful companies don’t mind paying big bucks for branding. Their branding is their signature, their invitation card, the message they want their potential customers to understand via shapes and colors. Content is extremely important, but the way it is displayed is what will make people absorb that content. Don’t bury designers yet. Templates are not always going to cut it for companies who are seeking to separate themselves from the competition. The rules of the internet are changing, that’s undeniable, and and they are changing fast, but designers will always play an important role in the delivery of these new technologies simply because people trust branding even if it’s on a subconscious level.

    -2
  15. 47

    I couldn’t disagree more. Design is not, and never was, eye-candy. True and good design serves a purpose and, without it, there’s nothing left, other than… things. The way you picture web design here is the way that people have always done: making pretty images and placing here an there.

    We have grown so much in terms of good web design in the last years, grabbing inspiration from classical areas, as well borrowing from newer grounds. It’s not only wrong, but terrible, to see someone putting all that effort in a trash can. Your article is extremely sensationalist and does not fit the quality of this online magazine.

    -1
    • 48

      Couldn’t agree more Jackson. How would companies differentiate themselves from competitors and comunicate their values without creative design. It’s such a weak argument.

      -3
    • 49

      Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine)

      September 24, 2010 6:43 am

      Actually, Cameron is talking about visual design and interaction design; her main point is that the focus will shift from web site design to content design, leaving the idea of web design as it is today aside. And that’s a very thought-provoking concept, actually.

      -1
      • 50

        You’re still equating web design to “making it look pretty”.

        True web design is interaction / content design on the web. The only problem is that 95% of the population think it’s about textures, templates, and other eye-candy. All they do is contribute to visual pollution and the misunderstanding that web design is about eye candy. It isn’t.

        The best designers solve REAL problems (everything from overhead to usability to content hierarchy – think Facebook’s layouts), and are able to maintain the business’ brand image regardless of the platform (again, Facebook and their mobile versions, as well as Opera mobile). The rest of the so-called web designers who don’t understand this are nothing but pretenders. Who are they? The ones who come up with “templates” (a laughable concept – as if every online business has the exact same problem as everyone else), or use the same Photoshop “techniques”, such as glossy buttons, on each and every project (another laughable idea – so all brand identities must look shiny? Ha!). Usually, they are equipped with their pirated copies of Photoshop and Windows. Some of the more successful ones now have Macs – but their copies of Photoshop are still pirated.

        I could go on, but the point is simple: design isn’t about eye-candy. It’s about problem solving. If your web “design” isn’t solving quantifiable issues, then it isn’t design, it’s “decoration”. “Decoration” is the act of putting together eye candy. Maybe SM should rename the article to “does the internet have room for web decorators?”

        -1
        • 51

          Good God. Thanks. Articles like this are why I usually avoid Smashing. Not very well thought out, kind of amateurish.

          -4
        • 53

          Great reply Andrei.

          “…her main point is that the focus will shift from web site design to content design, leaving the idea of web design as it is today aside.”

          Website design (and just about every other kind of design) already is content design. If it isn’t then either your site sucks, or your designer does.

          -2
        • 54

          Couldnt have said it better myself, Andrei.

          -2
        • 55

          Andrei, I agree with you entirely, very well said.

          -2
        • 56

          Nothing against Ms. Chapman, but a quick look at her personal site, experience level (“over 6 years”), and work history tells us a lot about her mindset. I’ve been working in interactive and print design through two economic bubble bursts, and in my opinion the only people who’ve lost employment are those who can’t adapt to the rapid change and ability to “forget conventional wisdom” that the medium requires. I don’t feel she has the long-view necessary to see that things mutate and change on a short cycle in our particular space.

          Ms. Chapman writes for sites like Smashing, Tuts+, and other sites whose primary content type—no insult intended—consist of weekly design trends and one-off design lists (another example of her work: “40+ Awesome Keynote and PowerPoint Templates and Resources”). The designers who depend on that type of information are probably not long for this profession either way.

          Anyone who has a solid education in design theory and history regardless of software packages, and ability to relate critical concepts in a novel fashion for the interactive space, will be gainfully employed. Those who hope to retain their jobs by using the latest Photoshop filters and gradients are probably not investing in their craft enough to stay relevant in this profession.

          2
      • 57

        Sorry Vitaly, but web design has only ever been about designing the content. No one in the history of design has designed “a page” or “a website.” Content is the only thing a designer can design. Those who perceive a difference between designing content and designing a page have no grasp of design. These people are decorators who see the “page” as ripe for being decorated. Content is what we design. Period.

        -1
        • 58

          Andrei is right on the money here. I wrote an article on this recently also, there are far too many ‘designers’ pumping out cheap templates that don’t solve any problem, they’re just chock full of useless visual and aesthetic trends which are making it difficult for people to recognize real design. It’s gotten so bad now that if someone doesn’t see glossy buttons and rounded edges, then they think there’s something WRONG with the design.

          -1
  16. 59

    Matt Orley of Akron, OH

    September 24, 2010 6:20 am

    Time to reinvent ourselves….again…

    0
  17. 60

    Thought provoking and well-balanced article. One caveat for your conclusion that content providers will win. That will likely be true as long as level playing fields, especially the level playing field established by the practice of net neutrality, are preserved. We need to be vigilant as telecos work to carve up the interwebs into tiered networks and walled-off gardens. Especially as more content is available on wireless and other non-PC devices.

    -2
  18. 61

    I definitely agree that content is going to be a big factor with the semantic web being the next phase. However, I do not think that apps will be taking over web design, but instead be an integral part/addition to the web designer’s tool box. I think apps for facebook, twitter, etc that integrate into sites will merely be a slowly dying trend. Remember AOL keywords? Every commercial on TV was all about them. Now it’s “friend us on facebook, be our fan on facebook, follow us on twitter, etc.”. Same situation, though I think now that way more people are using the internet than back in the day of AOL, internet trends take a much longer time to die out or change, so these elements will stick longer.

    And as for templates, I don’t think they will be in use by anyone who is trying to be credible. I cringe every time I hear a client suggest I use one. Unique design leaves unique impressions, and hopefully that will always be the case.

    -1
  19. 62

    You touch on this a little bit but I think there’s a major flaw in this article, that you treat design as purely aesthetics and almost in a, what’s flashy what’s pretty sort-of-way.

    Design is not just colors and shapes. Design, now more than ever, is about usability. Why something is where it is and how does it help the user get to what they need. It’s also very, very easy for someone with no usability experience to mess that up.

    All “designers”, and not just kids who pirated Photoshop, should know how to take a bunch of content and organize if for greatest accessibility, know how to balance featured content and supplemental content. Designers also need to know how to design pages so they are social-site accessible, and bring the site together with internal links.

    When you say: “Developers, on the other hand, will likely see a boom in business … all these apps also need design work, but it will be a lot less demand than there is now for website design. ” I don’t think that’s a statement you can fairly assume. If anything it could become easier to design a program and its UI completely, screen for screen, and outsource the development to a cheap international company whom just acts as an assembly line.

    I do think designers who can only work on a flat plane and cannot develop at all are in big trouble though. Media on the web will get richer, so it is likely that video editing / 3d modeling will become requirements for more and more jobs.

    Always remember though that those of us posting here are really at the front of the web technologies, and that there is still a small/local business market that is always huge for independent designers. We still got some time left in our hourglass.

    -1
    • 63

      Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine)

      September 24, 2010 6:47 am

      Dave, I think the main point of the article is in the conclusion: “The bad news is that if the Internet starts relying much more heavily on access via app rather than browser, there’s going to be a lot less demand for web designers. ”

      Cameron is talking both about visual design and interaction design, explaining that its importance will decrease over time, along with the growing importance of “content design”. And thanks for the very insightful comment! We certainly have some time left, but is it just a matter of time when one medium will be replaced by another one?

      -2
      • 64

        Visual design will always be a differentiating factor for consumers. Visual design allows users to gather 1000′s of details about a piece of content, at-a-glance.

        If all content were fed through an aggregate design template, it would become immediately more difficult to discern and evaluate information irrespective of how good the actual content is. Design is as important as ever in differentiating your content and establishing proof of authority.

        The fact that more content is being fed through aggregate sources such as Twitter, Facebook and RSS readers has not demonstrated any indication of slowing the online design economy. If anything, it has only served to increase the number of apps and designs for evaluating and feeding aggregate information.

        In a world where we are caught choosing between variations of essentially the same products, design is often the only differentiator. This applies to the online world too. Three RSS readers with three different approaches: Google Reader vs. Feedly vs. Fever. Email campaign services: Campaign Monitor vs. Litmus vs. MailChimp.

        It’s important to consider the types of content being referred to here. It might be the case that publication resources, articles, blogs, news and purely information-based content would better suit a simplified single-template aggregate design. However it’s short-sighted to discount emotionally-driven content that requires more than just an intellectual connection with users.

        -2
      • 65

        I agree, it is “… just a matter of time when one medium will be replaced by another one”; you can apply that logic to any area in life and follow that through history itself.

        The tools may change and the trends may change, but we will still be drawn to visual appeal. What about tv or billboard marketing, are either of those really all that different from websites, or webapps for that matter? They have to be visually “sexy” or people just won’t buy into it.

        Really, if you look at society, I think what you will see is the opposite from the article; people want to be wowed with the flashy neat thing, but skip over the content for the next big neat thing. What I’m trying to say is that people are superficial and lazy, and they will only continue to get more and more superficial and lazy.

        Oh, and to the people that keep saying that minimalism will take over… I love minimalism and simplicity, but lets look at movies for example. What usually is REALLY popular? Is it the simply quiet films about inward conflict… or is it flashy superficial films like Avatar?

        People are hungry for the bigger and bigger, more flashy, more sexy.

        0
      • 66

        I think the problem is that all those apps the author mentions are also designed. At least in the sence that Andrei mentioned above and interaction design is also very strong in the applications the author mentions. For instance the idea of the ‘swipe’ on the iPhone didn’t come from no where. Much of the behavioral interactions on touch devices were researched in HCI labs as far back as the late 1990′s, including multi-touch screens. In other words, interaction and graphic design has already played a large part in what the author ascribes to the end of graphic and interaction design.

        -2
  20. 67

    This feels a lot like Wired’s “The Web is Dead. Long live the Internet” article.

    It’s a bit unnerving, but the funny thing is that I keep, accidentally, being one step ahead of the game.

    I got into web development 5 years ago because I realized Web Designers were being replaced with automatic software, and templates.

    I started telling my business customers to invest in a good template and CMS instead of a custom one-off webdesign because then they could focus their money on content and advertising.

    Time to start working harder on iOS and Android programming skills…

    -4
  21. 68

    Consider this. Im webdesigner since 1999. In the beggining it was about feel and web was kind of art. I agree that content is the king. But as a webdesigners we are also a experience designers, we make the mood, we set the candles, we create the atmosphere, we make you connect or disconnect. Good webdesign wont make you sell, but the more good it is the more credibility you will gain.
    We evolve! We survive!
    m.

    -2
  22. 69

    I do see more devices going towards less web based technologies such as desktop and mobile apps, HOWEVER, I don’t quite see a need for a career change. The simple fact that 80% of people don’t even know how to use half the aggregator devices that pull feeds. Apple TV, Google TV, heck most people can’t even work a DVR or a simple cable box. Companies need their websites. It is no like you are going to go lumber shopping on your TV. Only for that small niche of people who will actually use some sort of device or application all the time. General public searching Home Depot will go to the site.

    I do agree, content is always king. Web designers are actually the only ones who give a rats about good design.
    Layout, content architecture, and content itself are the actual things people are looking at, not the pretty flowers, butterflies, coffee cups, etc. that get added to the layout design (this coming from a web designer).

    A good website could just have boxes of content and 2 colors. Look at Craigslist. Insanely minimal design, if any, simple layout architecture, yet used all over the world.

    Eh, who knows.

    -1
  23. 70

    Wow what a stupid article, I am sorry but the web will always need web designers.

    -3
  24. 71

    Another possibility is that the mobile web scene advances and we are able to see more advanced designs, this comes from advancement in the technology and the bandwidth that drives these mobile devices. We’ve seen it previously in the web since we’ve moved from dial-up to high-bandwidth.

    I also agree, this does come off a lot like Wired’s “The Web is Dead” article.

    -2
  25. 72

    New media never replaces old media, it extends it. The web hasn’t removed the need for print designers, TV didn’t replace radio, and neither will apps render the web irrelevant. What we can be sure of is that whatever the communication medium, design and designers are essential.

    -1
  26. 74

    This was very interesting. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. It will be funny to look back in 15 years at the internet.

    -3
  27. 75

    From a designers point of view, I like to have a look at the web-sites out there, but only because I want to keep up to date with what’s hot and what’s not. To be honest though, if it weren’t for that fact, I would never visit other websites, all I need is google reader and a feeds manager… nothing more! I personally think the internet as we see it today is slowly changing from it’s enormous ‘bazaar’ type character where a person go to a site and visit, to a ‘cathedral’ environment where we as surfers decide what content to ‘let’ in, a place where content is king!

    I’m also with Ellis, time to start exploring other platforms like android and iOS (I’m going to have a bash with symbian!). An excellent article.

    -2
  28. 76

    I’m pretty sure I recently read an article that was stating the exact opposite (apps are temporary, everything will live in the browser alone soon)… but anyway, be it browsers or be it apps built in HTML5 I really see little difference. They might even merge in the future, who knows? But both content and design will always have a big part in it. So I really think there is nothing to worry about. As long as we keep up with the new stuff, of course! But that’s the fun part of this kind of work, isn’t it?

    -1
  29. 78

    Need to think

    -2
  30. 79

    I agree to a lot of what you say here, but! Although the “content writers” will be able push content through their portals, those portals will still need to be designed. Clients will still desire a way to brand there content. Therefore I think the content may switch from one place to another, but the need for design will still exist. More and more developers and designers tend to be multidisciplinary.

    The content published on the web is more interactive by the second. The beauty in interactive design is a result of the magic between design and technique. Everyone may have to be more interaction-orientated. So even though the game may change, it still requires the same player as before.

    -2
  31. 80

    Seriously?

    “Content is king and design is becoming less relevant … ”

    Of course content is the most important aspect of any page. But there will always be designers there to arrange it. Just because design is changing doesn’t mean there won’t be a need for it.

    -2
  32. 81

    It’s interesting that the article seems to be placing typography and use of space outside the realm of “design.” Our JOB as web designers is to put the information in front of the user, making the experience as simple as possible. Yes, branding and other elements creep in to the design as well, but that can still be done elegantly, seamlessly, and much more subtly as the web continues to evolve.

    I think you’re wrong to say that the future will not include web designers, but that our focus in who we are designing for (users instead of clients) will shift even more dramatically. In turn, our focus in what and how we design will also shift.

    0
  33. 82

    Provocative text. Seems to me that informations is well based and fits the reality. I think however, that designers, web and app, still will play an important role in the market. People are refining their visual perception and well designed interface is important and help to send the right message;

    Another point is that not everyone have the practice with devices and even the new digital generation is not too good with inteligente utilization of apps. They access Google and Facebook, but this don’t mean they know how integrate the apps.

    The third world have an entire population to be inserted into digital era to after think about use iPhone/Android apps. But 15 years can be a time enough.

    -2
  34. 83

    Very good article, was thinking about it this morning.
    I think the designers will always be part of the process, maybe not as intense as it is now, but still there’s a need for good design, regarding usability. The psychology part of how the content is presented will be more important as ever I guess. There are huge opportunities for us as web designers in this area, as long as we want to dive into this subjects. I think learning is part of the job, we have to go forward and think in opportunities instead of threats.

    -2
  35. 84

    I sure hope that’s not the case. It’s not like the Internet is slowing down though. It’s just expanding to different mediums. We’ll always need web designers!

    -2
  36. 85

    Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Pseudo-Journalists?

    Answers on an e-card.

    -2
  37. 86

    I don’t understand this article.

    -2
  38. 87

    You speaks only about web applications. What about the online advertising industry ? There is a lot of microsites, emailing, concepts that lives around. I assume your point is that the Internet will need more Interface designers. But working for years and years as webdesigner, I can assure you that customers demands quality in what they are looking at as well as the functionality.

    -2
  39. 88

    So basically what the “future” holds is that instead of the design of the WEBSITES being important, it will be the design of the APPS.

    I think the designers are going to be ok! :)

    -2
  40. 89

    Web design is a mess right now, so … let it die :) I’ve always felt that the best way to present information is to remove all unessential graphics and presentation materials – just black text (formatted of course) on white background with images only when needed.

    After all mobile devices will eventually become powerful enough and maybe bandwidth won’t cost our souls any time soon – and we will see a new medium emerges from the ashes of web design … maybe designer of holographic interface blah blah something :) – now that will be cool.

    So what do you think guys are we going to work for Google, MS or Facebook (Apple will be bought by Microsoft or Google…).

    -5
    • 90

      Long, long ago, people made art on the walls and ceilings of caves, on the sides of mountains, on pottery, wove it into clothes, shaped it into letters.

      We are wired to appreciate aesthetically pleasing shapes and spaces. Which is why artistic and custom design will always exist in human culture.

      We like it that way.

      0
    • 91

      Are you serious?

      You are one of those people that think that you can do without something that everybody takes for granted and then realises that it was there for a reason.

      “…just black text (formatted of course) on white background with images only when needed”. You tell me, when was the last time you visited a site like this? And did you actually read all that nonsense to the end? I don’t think so.

      Nobody likes blank sites. They are mind-squishingly boring. Society thrives off of design/art. Pictures tell stories. Not words

      1
  41. 92

    This article invokes thought, however I think it overlooks many different caveats that make up the organic components of the world wide web, the most important of which is the freedom to create with minimal boundaries or overshadowing control. As much coverage as a new HTML standard has received (HTML5, duh) and been accepted on new platforms as rapidly as it has i.e., mobile this only opens the door for more creativity for businesses and individuals small and large via the world wide web rather than less. There will always be content aggregates as a new niche which will still need branding and experience. Just as there will still always be a world wide web along side of these new apps. We are consuming information in many different ways than ever before, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for web design right along side of the content aggregates.

    I can’t agree about the freeing up of bandwidth as the world grows and more and more less fortunate people today finally have the ability to access the content most of us enjoy now. This also does not cover anything related to the motion capture industry, i.e., television & movies with more and more content coming online in high definition standards consuming more bandwidth today than ever before regardless of the design of interface players to stream the content.

    As far as the perception that designers will be less relevant I think the bigger concern is how as a designer you stay relevant by shifting your focus from simple design concepts to complex UIX design methodologies that shape the interfaces of the apps and the world wide web which I doubt will go away in the next 10-15 years. Take the new Twitter as a perfect example, the new interface was released shortly after their iPad app and they have many of the same features and look and feel.

    Unless of course those that control our access limit our freedom of expression in the ways we access the world wide web I don’t see there being any major shift of web design in the industry, only more work as we add app design to the list. My uncle once told me way back in 1997, “why do you want to be a web designer and start a web design company? In a few years all of that will be done by bigger companies with automated software applications and there won’t be a need for web designers.” He was wrong then and I believe this article as thought provoking as it may be is just that, worth while of a great open discussion. However I don’t see web design going away unless the “web” part of web design ceases to exist.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents, take or leave it, or make change and leave me a penny.

    -1
  42. 93

    I always get a chuckle out of these “the web as we know it is dead” type of articles. They are good for a laugh if anything else.

    Apps aren’t going to replace web sites. Mobile isn’t going to replace the desktop or laptop. Facebook isn’t going to replace Google. Google isn’t going to replace the internet.

    Web sites, apps, FaceBook, Twitter… these are just different ways of delivering content. One isn’t going to replace the other. They compliment each other.

    Now take a deep breath and relax.

    0
  43. 95

    Developers have to also consider the end users. They dont care who gives them what content. End users only care about aesthetics and usability. Most users dont know or care if content is dynamic or static, as long as its useful. So as someone mentioned above, design also incorporates usability and placement, and even simple designs like Google and Facebook have designers working hard to improve their looks. For artists, form follows function….but we know that developers have to code their functions to follow the form. A developer can not work without that template or design.

    -2
  44. 96

    Tom | NewEvolution

    September 24, 2010 7:40 am

    Thanks for the reality check :(

    -2
  45. 97

    I think the web is only dying here in the U.S. Maybe we should research on the standards of other countries. Not all people have mobile devices like the iPhone. Also, not all developers are good in user interface design which web designers do.

    -2
  46. 98

    I really don’t think this is a matter of whether or not there will be a need for designers in the internet future.

    I think it’s a matter of adaption. When the internet popped up publishers probably started thinking “ooohhh shi-” but actually the internet has benefitted that industry immensley, from providing a new retail medium to a whole new platform altogether.

    It’s a matter of how we, as designers, will adapt to the shift in internet. To be honest, I earn my bacon designing websites, but I don’t call myself a web designer. There is far too much crossover in the web world to call yourself just a WEB designer. We’re designers, UI designers, UX designers, we’re all the same animal.

    However it’s the UI/UX designers that are savvy enough to wade knee deep in the app world, while most web designers (according to this article) should be sitting biting their nails for the impending internet holocaust.

    -2
  47. 99

    Web Designers may become extinct…but just in name. The new name will probably be “App Designer” or “UX Designer”. Programmers will ALWAYS need a designer, just like they do more standard computer applications. We are not at risk.

    -2
  48. 100

    One thing to keep in mind. As the professionals in the industry, I think we have more influence to shape what comes next than most give us credit for. Yes, technologies will evolve, and the tools we use will change. But that has been the case for years.

    I just don’t see us going the way of the Dodo.

    -2
  49. 101

    Does the world really want to view everything internet on a 2.3″ x 4.5″ phone screen – constantly scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, back and forth to view the content?

    Not likely.

    I believe desktop and laptop computers will be around for a long time to come – and the demand for attractive, content-rich, multi-page, custom web designs (that will also display well on the smaller phone screens) will be around too.

    0
  50. 102

    Mobile apps, which let’s face are still in a very primary stage, are peripheral to desktop/netbook computing, it’s only used for the most basic limited tasks, it’s far more likely that design will become an even greater part of app design as they expand. I’m not sure this writer really understands the part design plays in usability, i remember what the web looked like 15 years ago and it would not be popular today if it still looked that bad. Witness the uproar when a major site changes it’s design even slightly and tell me users don’t see design, it’s nonsense, the web has always been about content but aesthetics are a major part of a web site success and will always matter. People aren’t turning into logical robots, more the opposite.

    -2
  51. 103

    There are number of issues that I have with this article;

    1. Whilst I agree that apps will become more prominent as a medium for accessing content from the web. Cameron seems to be comparing Technology “now” with the internet in the “future” – They are not on the same playing field. There is a reason why there are so few website templates available for the mobile internet. It’s not because consumers “don’t care about design” – It is because, AT THIS POINT IN TIME mobile browsers struggle to render full size websites properly – However, as the mobile internet becomes more popular more mobile browsing devices will be manufactured, and these will be able to handle standard size websites much easier (think ipad-like devices etc..) –

    2. Secondly, Cameron has assumed that people will favour their mobile device over a Desktop machine or laptop… I do not believe this to be true. A Desktop/Laptop is a tool, not just for accessing content, but also for creating it! – I’d be willing to bet that Cameron didn’t write this article using her mobile phone!?!? – She most likely used a Desktop/Laptop … she states that “If there’s a definite winner in this possible future Internet, it is the content creators.” – Does she envisage that these content creators will use a Desktop/Laptop to create their content, and then turn to their smaller “app-filled” mobile device to access other content they are interested in? – No? – As matter of convenience, they would simply use their desktop and browser to access the content.

    There’s a time and a place for mobile apps just as there is a time and place for full websites! – This will never change.

    3. Finally, there is an assumption by the Cameron that design is just “making things look pretty” – A very naive assumption, in my opinion. She states that “…as long as the design doesn’t give them a headache or interfere with their ability to find what they want, they don’t really care how exactly it looks…” – Completely failing to recognise that “not interfering with the ability to access information” IS design!!! In fact that is almost the definition of Good UI Design;

    “defining how to present content in the most effective, economic way possible whilst maintaining consistent accessibility and aesthetics” – Richard Bland, Web User Interaction, July 2010

    I think that what we can take away from Cameron’s article is that, in the future, the term “Web Designer” will not just refer to websites, but also mobile app design aswell, perhaps as part of the “Web Design Package?” – On that note, web designers do not need to worry so much… this opens the prospect for more work! Not less.

    2
  52. 106

    HA!, another dooms day technologist with nothing better to write about. Web designers will never be out of a job, good design principles stay the same (especially for visual design) and there are not a huge amount of people who are actually that good at it (there are a lot who think they are) If you stay up to date with code and have solid aesthetic execution techniques you’ll always put food on your table. You’ll never get rich though….

    -2
  53. 107

    I don’t think it’s an accurate statement to say users don’t care about design. I think this is more of a case of they don’t know that they don’t know. Stick a person who has no idea about design, layout etc… in front of two websites, magazines, anything really that is a medium for delivering content. Both websites have the same or similar content, but one is well designed with proper type hierarchy, golden rule, etc… and one is poorly designed by a monkey. Someone with no prior investment in design (they don’t know, that they don’t know) is going to be drawn to the website that is designed well – It may be on a subconscious level. There’s a reason why we use something like harmony in design… it draws the user in. Why has the golden ratio stood up for hundreds of years? Type on the web has been steadily improving online but we aren’t reinventing the wheel, we’re just figuring out how to take existing best practices from print to web…

    -2
  54. 108

    This is a great article it is important to now that as the future arrives with new technologies, the internet will be changing as well depending on the new technology,.. the question is if it will really affects web designers / front end-developers,.. as we see now IE9 will arrive soon, CSS3 is already here and they are a new way to present the web on the screen, it just a matter of adjusting to the new technology as they come,…. if something new comes up along the way you should adjust to it, DO NOT GET STOCK IN WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW,…..

    -2
  55. 109

    Great post, but I agree with a lot of the commenters. The title “Web Designer” might die even though I really don’t see that happening anytime soon. Companies and marketing will still need an avenue for their brand.

    Like many mentioned, the new title will be “UI designer” or just “Experience Designer” but you will always need design and function to work together to produce great apps, no matter what the titles are. If the designers are removed from the workflow we will end up with apps that have minimal user experience and IA architecture. We will be going back to the native app era where everything was designed by programmers “we don’t need no stinckin’ designers”, you remember those days!? I know scary!

    As designers we just need to keep evolving.

    -2
  56. 110

    I’m in the design is here to stay camp. That said, I’m learning RoR… anyone that doesn’t have cross-disciplinary skills is going to be in trouble. The idea that “content is king …for most users, design is irrelevant” is a groundless assumption. What users? Is this what they said? Did you observe them disregarding design? Or does the idea just make sense to you? This is the trouble with half-baked generalizations. They make great headlines and stoke conversation, but that doesn’t make them anything more than assumptions. The web is and has always been about content, communication and commerce. Design will work it’s way into the mobile space as soon as clients fit it into their budgets. It’s easy to get away with templates when you treat mobile as an after thought, but it doesn’t mean you’re using the space as effectively as possible.

    -2
  57. 111

    Great article Cameron! I agree with everything that you mentioned about the future of the internet and how it affects web designers and developers. I feel everyone needs to just become more adapt to change. The internet is a forever changing platform, and the principles and practices used will never be the same 5 years down the line. Who am I kidding, after a month or two there is a new practice or trend that everyone uses.

    I mean there are a lot of flash developers feeling somewhat like this about Jquery, and I know all those people that loved coding in tables hate CSS, lol. As long as one remembers to just improve and change to suit the changes, or improvements depending how you look at it, of the internet, there really won’t be a problem. I mean there were

    0
  58. 112

    Do you want content? Navigate using Lynx browser.

    -1
  59. 113

    This article reiterates the fact that specialization is as much a vice as it is a virtue. Sure, x years from now we won’t be designing websites like we do today. It’s part of what makes this career exciting, right?

    I think that to say there will be a greater need for developers than designers is naive. I don’t like the idea that designers need to also be developers to succeed in this field.

    I doubt that we will all become cold data-eating robots anytime soon.

    -1
  60. 114

    Content is king and always has been.. unless of course you are Lady gaga.. Uniform across the board design, will turn into wallpaper faster than you can say windows vista.

    When companies, brands and humans want to stand out from the pack.. talented artists, visual designers and creatives are summoned.. they will always have steady work.

    -2
  61. 115

    I would like to think there’s people or organisations out there that would stop millions of people losing their jobs by taking the proper actions. Nothing is forever but we’ll see what happens.

    -2
  62. 116

    I see the whole UX industry booming. It might shift away from websites toward apps, but there will be constant competition to make apps more efficient. The app that plays well on my refrigerator might not play as well on my bicycle computer or in my car. So rather than bump up skills in pretty gradients, become a master at the wireframe. Its how people think. As we’re forced to process more information faster, efficiency will be at the forefront.

    -2
  63. 117

    I don’t think websites are going anywhere yet.

    What we have had is a two-tiered structure of information: storefront and website. We are simply moving toward a multi-tiered structure, where the degree of spacial aesthetics versus content varies according to the individual momentary needs of the consumer. I see the marketing world expanding to incorporate new tech, meaning MORE work for designers and developers… not less.

    -2
  64. 118

    I really don’t need to say what has already been said, but in short, I disagree with this article. I don’t see mobile devices and applications dominating the industry to the point of putting web designers out of business. There’s a lot of information simply being overlooked and I think “bchild” said it best.

    -2
  65. 119

    Pretty good analysis. Web designers who take a “site decoration” approach to their job will probably find fewer opportunities as things continue to evolve (finally, perhaps, print designers will be unable to pass themselves off as web designers).

    However, I think web designers who can function as UI or UX designers will continue to find themselves in demand.

    -2
  66. 120

    I think that articles like this are awesome! Not because of the content, but because of the reaction. It is very entertaining.

    I my opinion, which is really not worth much, I think that the term web designer will go away. I think it will be replaced with just designer. A person who can take a brand and make their presence relevant no matter the medium.

    The issue in the digital age has to do more with context than anything. How are you digesting your content? If it is a mobile device then yes I can see “form following function”, but if you are on a computer with a large screen then I can see more form.

    Design in general has been splintered so much that people are getting confused. Designers are not just people making pretty pictures. I know that there are some that do, but the ones that I work with also take into account usability and brand relevance. So it really boils down to the way someone will get the content and the what the content is that really affects how it should be designed. But it will need to be designed.

    Facebook, YouTube, Google are all about information, but not all sites are built that way. Video Game sites are not about large amounts of information. They are about wowing users about the game and that requires elaborate design, but if you are looking at the same site on your phone then you will need to make it more content friendly so that users can actually read the content. Even there a designer will be needed, to layout the content in a way that makes sense and that user are use to.

    As a developer I want a designer who can design well for my website, mobile app, and my mobile website. A designer that understands that the user comes first before their own ego, because in the end if a user doesn’t use your site or app then the design is pointless.

    So honestly in the end it is not about the content, design, or the code. It is about the user you are trying to reach. If your user requires and app then make an app that works. If your user requires an experience then make a website that blows them away. If your user needs a service then make a site and an app that is functional.

    I don’t know a lot about the future, but I do see a lot of movies about the future and none of them have websites in them. StarTrek, The Matrix, etc… Have you ever noticed that? Funny.

    0
    • 121

      “I don’t know a lot about the future, but I do see a lot of movies about the future and none of them have websites in them. StarTrek, The Matrix, etc… Have you ever noticed that? Funny.”

      I also don’t recall movies in the 50s envisaging movie trailers, social networking and eBay taking up most peoples lives either … it was all about making video calls between different planets and getting your robot assistant to do your chores.

      0
  67. 122

    Companies need to sell. They need to stand out from competitors in order to succeed in selling. That is why creative marketing and branding has never gone away.

    Because of this, I don’t see digital design having no room in the future … but we can definately say goodbye too all the crappy websites that just get in the way of finding quality content. Leave those spammy cruds for a few apps instead so we don’t have to trawl through the boggy internet ever again.

    0
  68. 123

    Great post and some very good ideas.

    However, I must contest to some of the points.
    1) Design is still crucial as usability and user-experience become more important. It takes just as much work (if not more work) to design a simple user-experience and UI design for both websites and mobile applications. It’s becoming a cut throat world out there so people have to focus on creating an aesthetic and UX that convert.
    2) Don’t scare the developers away from the web and into app development just yet. The line between the two is becoming smaller with HTML5 and CSS3 around the corner. I feel that these technologies could very well be powering web apps in the future (instead of proprietary and sketchy frameworks like objective C).

    Long live the web designers and developers!

    Later!
    Zach Ferres
    BounceFire (www.bouncefire.com)

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  69. 124

    While content is already one of the most important things, I don’t think design is going to die off. People already mentioned UI design, but design is what differentiates companies. If everyone is using the same cheap templates (don’t even get me started on that!) then branding will not exist. If that is the case, then marketing on the web will dramatically change as well. If everything goes the way of this article then I think it will actually make sites that have design and branding stand out amongst the pack.

    0
  70. 125

    Someone can post an mp3 of a new band on their Facebook feed and all their friends can listen to it right there from this designless point of view. But if they like them, they are going to want to go to a page some where that has more of their music, some bio info about them, maybe some profiles and photo galleries, tour list, videos, mailing list sign up, blog/news/feed of their own, all their stuff in one place.

    You can watch a movie on your phone, but you would much rather watch it on a big screen. I can hunch over in my computer chair designing all day staring at what I think is an enormous 20 inch imac screen, but I would rather be leaned back staring at a 60 inch HD while designing all day.

    I think things will change and have the possibility of dramatically changing, but like a number of people have already stated, there has and always will be a need for design. From writing on cave walls, to newspapers, to television news graphics, to websites, to whatever is next. As long as we have eye balls and information & images to look at, there will be a need for someone to organize, structure, make it all easy to find and look pretty to look at.

    0
  71. 126

    Let me add to the ubiquitous lineup of designers ready to contest the obvious point.
    Design will never die off. Great design is design you hardly notice because it removes the impediments to accessing content. Content may be king, but without design nobody will even be able to read it.
    It’s like saying typography isn’t important to most people reading books. If they find the book easy on the eyes and a pleasure to read, it’s because the typesetter did their job. Only a font-nerd would buy a book because of a beautiful choice of font!

    As websites become easier and easier to self-create, design will be more important because it will be increasingly more difficult to get noticed. According to one poll, 42% of visitors get put off a site because of poor design. In the future, great, greater and greatest design will make the better content stand head and shoulders above the garbage (which will also become easier and easier to create).

    1
  72. 127

    I agree with some of what was said in the article but do not necessarily agree with the author as to the reasons why web developers need to rethink their career paths. I don’t think the need for websites will ever go away. Companies will always want to control their brand, create a presence and collect information through a source they own. But I do think the web design industry is going to go through a significant change in the next several years. I personally feel it is the ease of website and content creation that is starting to make a significant impact in the need for a website that is designed by an outside party or contractor. It is also making a big dent in the profit of web development companies. I used to own a web development company – one that would provide custom site design to small – medium sized businesses and I can tell you first hand that I do feel it is a dying breed. There was a time when you could build a robust, professional looking online marketing presence for a profit but those days are starting to get few and far between. It seems as though everything is getting cheaper and cheaper – from hosting to design, to creation. Yet companies still have to pay their employees! We all know that most web development companies survive off of small to mid-sized companies who need a website. Today, whether you agree with it or not, most of these businesses are leaning towards templates – they are much cheaper and can be managed and maintained themselves. WordPress is a great example of how easy web design and management can get – and the fact that the platform is catching on like wild fire is a tell-tale sign. I am totally bummed out by it, but can’t deny reality. I think what is going to happen ultimately is that many of the small web design and development companies will start going out of business. Larger, more stable companies will remain and then hire designers and developers. The remaining designers and developers are going to have to look at larger corporations for jobs – get on their marketing and/or web development teams in order to ensure your stability. I do not think the websites will go away, but the need for web development companies just might.

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  73. 128

    Mauricio Hernández

    September 24, 2010 11:25 am

    I think some of the arguments of the article are valid, but in human story the aesthetics and art have been a lot of importance, companies like apple have in design a great diferencial business value, as web designers we should change being from simple graphic designers to extend our knowledge to user experience, information architecture, usability, to know our users and improving their experiences through designing more efficient plataforms or aplications (mobile apps or anything else)

    0
  74. 129

    This argument isn’t new. Every time their is an adaptation of a new technology or medium that shifts the application of design, everyone who buys in wholesale that isn’t a designer says it’s dead. Form should always follow function, regardless of what it’s being applied to. If someone told you different you weren’t talking to very disciplined source(s).

    There will always be a place for aesthetic applications in this world, in marketing and in business. The most obvious evolution seen in recent years for designers has been the jump from print to web but also UX, eMarketing, online branding and advertising. Also the argument that we’ve reached some pinnacle in interactive innovation is like saying lets just stop here. Platforms and technology will progress in ways we can’t for see decades from now.

    “Design is where science and art break even.” — Robin Mathew

    “Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking” — Milton Glaser

    1
  75. 130

    “This is because for most users, design is irrelevant.”

    Unbelievable comment from a web designer. Most users may SAY that design is irrelevant, but of course it isn’t. Design affects users in many subtle, perhaps even subconscious ways, but it certainly does make a difference. This is the very root of visual communications and advertising!

    Without bagging on the author too much, a quick visit to her site makes me think that she is a writer, not a designer at all.

    Apps are here because smart phone browsers have been pretty much useless. Once those start getting halfway decent, then apps will become less important.

    1
  76. 131

    Great article, I kept thinking of Yahoo throughout my readings and just how much that company does not get it. Information has to cone through devices such as the iphone, ipad and phones in general. What is boils down to is that this generation of kids are awkward face to face and they have been trained to, they have been told not to talk to strangers, open doors or have no physical interaction with strangers. Hence they interact virtually, that bad man around the corner online is just another name that a 9 year old could tell to buzz off virtually. It’s a generation thing, why talk when you can text? why spell “okay” “you” talk to you later when you can type “K” “U” and “TTYL”? who is it going to hurt? remember spelling in grade 3? I love this generation, their demands are awesome, no big massive expensive TV, youtube would do with a less that perfect video quality, same goes for cameras? who really cares about some $5,000 camera? well our 40+ generation foolishly cares and for what reason? Talk to your 5,9 and 15 year old to see what’s tp come not the big companies who continue to hold on to this stupid notion that bigger is better? go kids, go, this article could have been title “What the kids are doing”

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  77. 132

    People don’t have to worry about their careers. Web design isn’t going extinct anytime soon and if it does lean toward apps there will just be a greater shift from web design to UI design. Just diversify yourself and you’ll be just fine for the next 50 years of your career.

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  78. 133

    I like how she references the hilariously off-the-mark Newsweek article from 15 years ago and then goes on to make predictions with just as much assurance and arrogance. The truth is the future of the web is just as murky as it was 15 years ago. Things are still changing extremely fast and anyone who claims to know how things are going to be in 5, 10, or 15 years is just being reckless.

    0
  79. 134

    This article seems to suggest that designers become content creators…how exactly? Should we start selling Tshirts or something? Designers are aesthetic problem solvers and there will always be problems to solve. And it’s a pretty drab future if we leave it to Google and Facebook to determine design. I think the success of Tumblr indicates that people really want and even crave design to express themselves and most certainly their brands. I actually see Facebook eventually hijacking the Tumblr free form design idea at some point in the future. Google has never demonstrated any real appreciation for design so I hold no hope for them. But it looks like Facebook is taking over the web anyway. And templates and themes…in the context of small businesses who can’t afford to pay a premium for design, sure. But real brands will always need to define their image through design. Maybe it just means we’ll be doing more interactive billboards or space design. But the loss of a real immersive design experience on the web would actually be sad…

    0
  80. 135

    This article raises some very interesting questions as it develops, but it’s lack of an informed conclusion is terrible.
    Content has always been king and will always be.
    The web “decorators” job will always have a niche. becasue as it was pointed before, there are many niche industries that require design to be different.
    Those who fall under that category will certainly see diminishing bussiness.
    There’s a term called “Front-end Developer” which i think is the kind of job that will remain as strong as it is today. A frontend developer doesn’t makes things pretty. He solves real design problems and his job will forever remain relevant.
    Apps are homogeneization is mostly a sad thing to see and it happens because designing realluy customized apps is much more costly than designing apps like everyone else with standard elements and standard functionality.

    The internet bussiness has always been about staying on the cutting edge of trends and even anticipating them. That’s not news.

    0
  81. 136

    I had to respond to this because our past tells us different. People and companies don’t want to be put in “boxes”

    Back in the early 20′s when Bauhaus was opened there was a project that made housing for the masses, although a great idea for that time it was the eventual downfall for Bauhaus and it’s future. People don’t want to be put in “boxes” as they prefer their individuality and freedom. Design is an essential part of the web and our daily life. Without it every page has the same look and feel, and boredom strikes. Companies, businesses don’t spend 20.000 or 30.000 dollars for nothing, they want to be individual from the rest. A web page that extends their branding, house style.

    I do agree that data is essential to the web. Without it! It would never have been as big as today. But I do prefer a good designed app or or website above the rest.

    0
  82. 137

    Christopher Anderton

    September 24, 2010 12:55 pm

    Seems that most of the commenters did not read the article.

    -1
  83. 138

    Like the title, but the article did not go anywhere. bit of a disappointment from smashing. Brave statements, gets attention, and you may have some ideas/be on to something, but a lot of this is just not accurate. I disagree with a lot of your points, not just opinions but facts. Your points about Content being king and no one caring about design. Users may not be conscious about design, but they do notice it and subconsciously care about it. I have said this before, Content and Context are both king no one it bigger than the other. You have to have great information delivered with great informational organization and style. Look, feel, design, location, and structure are all elements of Context, you can have the best content in the world and if it is white text on a yellow background no one wants to read it. If you have the best content but it is structured bad no one want to read it. There is and always will be a role for designers and information designers in content creation, delivery, production, and publication. Maybe you should have focused on transitioning from a designer to a “front-end developer” not “content creators”.

    0
  84. 139

    Very interesting, yet disturbing words seeing that it is written by someone who makes their living off web and graphic design…hmmm. Anyone see the irony here? Content is king, but the functionality of a site is based on good design. Design is important and will never be futile for the mere fact of individuality and originality which a competative client looks for, period. This is Smashing Magazine for god’s sake, the site we use to get inspiration and resources to design the web. Stop posting crap like this guys!

    0
  85. 140

    First of all, while APPs are everywhere now a days, they are no replacement for an actual website or it’s content. APPs are a glance, a quick shot of info that you need in that moment. I don’t know many people who just sit around on their cell phone and surf the net for long periods of time when they have a computer feet away. The cell phone browser will never replace the computer’s browser. When I’m at home, if I want info I’ll go to my computer, not my cell phone, I’m not that lazy. There is something to be said about a great user experience, which most APPs just don’t provide. A huge part of user experience is the design, the visual stimulation. Basically, I think the purpose of this article was to drum up comments. Mission accomplished.

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  86. 141

    I think the author is making a good point. However, she seems to ignore the very real and present emergence of online video becoming primary content in the future.

    Bandwidth delivery issues are fading away as the pipes get fatter. In terms of learning and entertainment (which is entirely we we get on the internet), video covers a much broader spectrum.

    Online video is the new literacy for the 21st century!

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  87. 142

    ‘In the beginning, the earth was without form, and void. . .” says Genesis 1:1. And so it was for the Internet, too, which began without any graphical form at all, as a way to exchange messages and information among researchers. Even hypertext was basically created simply as a better way for scientists to share textual content with one another. The Internet has never been about anything but content and never will be.

    But just as the earth went on to have a form — a shape — so the Internet could not remain just text. The Mosaic graphical web browser was born because humans enjoy getting some, if not most, of their information visually. I am old enough to remember the days when I used an 8 MHz 640k PC (yes, my children, that was MHz, not GHz; and kilobytes, not mega or giga) with a 300-baud modem to access text-based bulletin boards. But soon bulletin boards went graphical. And then they changed to online web forums, using interfaces accessed by a graphical browser.

    Along the way there were other pronouncements of the impending demise of, or at least the reduced need for, the web browser — I can recall that in Java’s early days it was declared that Java would enable everything from refrigerators to cars to children’s toys to access data on the Internet, rendering the browser nearly irrelevant. Java indeed enables even thin plastic smartcards to access the Internet, let alone cellphones and automobiles — but still the web browser has not become irrelevant.

    In other words, I think a huge amount of skepticism is called for when it comes to similar kinds of pronouncements from either the author of this article or magazines like Wired about the demise of the web or of the browser or of the need for design. History should teach us to adopt a great deal of caution when we are tempted to predict very much about the future.

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  88. 143

    UHHHH Got a quick question… this Clifford Stoll guy… he supposedly wrote the article referenced at the beginning in 1995… Well how has he been surfing the net for the past two decades.

    “After two decades online, I’m perplexed. It’s not that I haven’t had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I’ve met great people and even caught a hacker or two.” – Stoll

    I mean I know the Internet had been around for a little bit and the Military used it. But Since 1975? Really? I dunno seems shady….. Did anyone else notice this?

    0
  89. 144

    what have you been smoking? ;)

    0
  90. 145

    I don’t use Facebook much, only when someone sends me an e-mail or writes on my wall, or something.

    Heck, I don’t even have a Twitter account… I did, but I closed it, a total waste of time.

    I’m already over community sites, and I honestly could care less if Facebook and Twitter stay or die, they are irrelevant to me and to my work, and that makes me happy.

    Yes, I’m a Web Designer.

    0
  91. 147

    I disagree, there is nothing you can do when it comes to the creativity. Surfing web without a nice design would be a nightmare.

    0
  92. 148

    I would love to go into the future right now, point a finger at you, and tell you: “Ha-ha! Told ya that wouldn’t happen”! However, everything in this world is uncertain and subjective to change, so I guess that all of the things you mention in your article might happen, but it’s HIGHLY UNLIKELY that it will. One thing is for certain though: these damn Internets will eventually be the end of us all, lol :D

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  93. 149

    Web Designer, that title is very vague and many of us don’t use it for years at least my circle of people.

    Web Designers are also Web Developers who can design and code sites at the same time, as well as prepare the entire layout for SEO. However there are still plenty of folks who just design and their work is still very much fine.

    In either case none of us will go away and all of us are here to stay, regardless of Facebook, Twitter or Google who are only a supplemental marketing and “bridge” from Social Network to our sites and that won’t change any time soon.

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  94. 150

    If this wasn’t the same week as “Top 25 Dog Logos”, “Top 50 Logos with Thoughts Behind Them” and “Best 30 Blue Website for Inspiration”, this would be the most ridiculous thing published this week. Got it, so once we go to “apps” and “devices”, we won’t need design since “content” will be king.

    0
  95. 151

    I think the concept of “design is from now on worthless” is nothing more than an eye-candy in this article.

    I think this article is worthless.

    0
  96. 152

    There is no function without form.

    0
  97. 153

    Wow. Right out of the gate, flawed claims of little (and dwindling) mobile browser usage.

    The mobile browser is currently the fastest growing browser, world wide.

    I found this article to be counter to current usage trends and documented mobile growth. It then proceeds to claim that users care not about design.

    Um, are you serious with this?

    Great design is not about color palette and pretty graphics. If you hire a designer to make you a “pretty website” you’re doing it wrong. Solid web design is rooted in user experience, information architecture and accessibility, not about pretty pictures.

    With the growth of mobile commerce, I care more about solid design (site architecture, UX, and user security) than EVER! The mobile browser is opening an exciting door for designers, and we are creating fantastic mobile experiences for users with applications and for the mobile browser.

    While I am completely content to consume straightforward literary content in a clean, straightforward mobile template for many blogs and publications, I expect a lot more from the brands that want my business. And they are learning. Brands are providing exciting and memorable experiences through the mobile device.

    The other thing that really grinds-my-gears is when brands/content providers plaster stuff all over Twitter and Facebook etc, knowing that their users can access those sites with a mobile app, and forget that when I click the link to your article in your Tweet (as I did tonight), it takes me to a PC formatted site. User Experience FAIL. I got to your LINK on a mobile app, but I will (possibly) consume your CONTENT on my mobile browser. Let’s start thinking about our users, shall we?

    I work with brands and destinations that understand that marketing in the MOMENT (mobile) means not being able to count on the consumer to search for and download an application. It’s ridiculous to assume that.

    I’d like to see more research and solid evidence before your publication decides that the native app is the end-all-be-all of mobile marketing and design.

    I’d also like to know how long the author has been working in the mobile space, and what time she has spent researching mobile design, design tools, mobile commerce, and new design tactics that are changing the way we create mobile experiences for users.

    Also, it’s bad form not to allow the writer to defend her work. I keep seeing the editor jump in to her defense. If you want to put your ideas and opinions forth, be prepared to debate them and defend your stance.

    2
  98. 154

    There are good point in this article – And I have been steering towards app development and template design as a natural reaction to the changing market BUT the idea that websites will be footnoted is short sighted. They will always fill the role of brochures and online magazines.

    Imagine if all magazines looked like facebook – BORING. Yes, of course apps, utility software and templates have grown exponentially and satisfy a niche – but websites will always be one leg of the table.

    Take a small business, a law firm for example – They can use a Drupal template, save 5K – 1/1000 of their yearly budget – and what do they gain? They end up with a mediocore cookie cutter site that is clean, yes – but they are competing with companies that understand the value of investing in their brand – and know that little differences can make the difference when customers are making choices.

    Also – Not much mention of advertising here – display and print ads will always be as useful as they have always been.

    There is nothing new in the advertising world. Only metaphors change.

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  99. 155

    This article, quite frankly, is terrible. For a number of reasons:

    1. Content is king, but presentation is everything. Saying people are only on your site for the content is true if you’re just googling something and it’s a one time hit, but most if not all websites visitors return to on a daily or weekly basis do not look like shit. And there’s a reason for that it’s called gaining a competitive edge, or in other words, the entire reason design even exists at all.

    2. If ANYONE is becoming less relevant, it’s coders. I mean what’s really a bigger threat… every client suddenly “building their own site”, or designers and art directors using cheap overseas freelancers and/or a “psd->xhtml” service (see ads on side of article) for $150 a page template. Not to mention wordpress, wordpress is a much bigger threat to coders than it is to designers. Just because thousands of fly by night SEO spam sites and random blogs don’t bother to change the basic template on wordpress doesn’t mean it’s game over for designers.

    3. This article has a serious lack of foresight, which is interesting because that’s entirely what it’s supposed to be about. I could go on for days but here’s the things that bothered me most – A. Apps run off the same code websites do. Absolutely nothing changes when you assign an icon to a url shortcut. So it doesn’t matter if “everyone is accessing web content through an app rather than a browser”, designers have absolutely nothing to worry about here. The real question here is what will prevail on mobile platforms, apps from the app store or mobile versions of websites? You overlook this as if apps have already won when alot of signs are pointing to the opposite. And even if apps DO prevail, someone’s gotta design the UI. Jesus. B. I agree with you about content aggregators but what you fail to realize is it’s layered. The aggregators you speak of (google, facebook, etc) are aggregating other aggregators, just as those aggregators aggregated, and just as something is gonna come down the road and aggregate google and facebook. It’s how content works on the internet. C. “Function Will Prevail over Form” this is just ridiculous.

    In closing, to attempt to leave this deconstructive criticism on a somewhat positive note, I’ll quote the one moderately fresh/interesting idea offered up in this whole article –

    “I can see a future where Google doesn’t just offer a list of search engine results, but actually shows you the content you’re looking for without ever leaving their sites.”

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    • 156

      Well stated, the author of this article was probably trying to get attention by posting something that would cause a stir up. She should delete the link to her site before everyone thinks she’s a joke… seriously.

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  100. 157

    Sorry, this article is dead wrong. “classic” websites like this one won’t be going anywhere soon. Web designers will be in need for at least another lifetime i’m sure. Though obviously they won’t be doing the same thing throughout that lifetime. I for one, don’t own a smartphone. Theres no point. There just isn’t a need for me to own one on top of a landline and an internet connection. And even if the majority does have a smartphone, classical websites will still be around longer than you’re thinking.

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    • 158

      You’re right about the smartphone thing. iPhone users, especially, seem to think the world revolves around them, when the reality is that there are countries where netbooks are just NOW arriving and those who live there will probably never own a smartphone in their lives.

      I do think we get ahead of ourselves. At the same time, it would not hurt for web designers to pick up some user-interface design skills.

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      • 159

        Web Designers need to have a basic understanding of UI Design. If they don’t then I cannot see how they call themselves web designers. :)

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  101. 160

    I am a creative director going on 12 years now and I love this site and feel like it is filled with helpful and insightful content, however this article is a total FAIL. I might be over simplifying this, but people/companies will always want unique and good looking designs. Whether you are called a “Web Designer” or a “Web Developer”, we will evolve the same way as “Traditional Media Designers” have in the past. I have a simple question for you. When you buy clothing, what is your first thought?…. Ah!

    0
  102. 162

    As some-one who has authored many web page, and used many of the features described to eliminate web site dev/design, I am only left believing the author has no understanding of how this all works.

    If you use a web service like reddit or digg , then this is what they are doing, where it runs locally of via a web the page still has to exist in order to access the information. When it comes down to it, people will rather hit a web site to do the aggregation than load apps on there PC, phone, iPad, TV… So anyone doing the aggregation needs designs and developers and they are only going to access sites that have web accessibility

    What is happening is people do not want to visit 30 sites to get there daily dose. So sites that can merge all the social media together, all the RSS data or whatever. So really the is an increase in demand not a decrease. In the big picture, if you think to get a access you need an account, and to get an account you have to visit the site.

    So don’t worry about dev/design ever disappearing, but as a user you may appreciate not having to visit N sites to get what you want. AJAX or whatever still requires the site exists, if its accessed in the background and you don’t see it in you web or local application.

    I use tooledo (http://www.toodledo.com/index.php) who offer the options described which reduce development and if you think about it, it requires an incredible amount of development.

    If the direction was simple text then designers would already be obsolete. HTML5 is just going to explode abilities where users be should be able to get more desktop abilities on a web page, essentially what silverlight, air, javaFX are offering. The capabilities will not be available unless you visit the site. Aggregators today still point you back to the original site.

    I use an app called MIRO which will automatically downloads new video’s for me so I can view them locally. So yes I agree there will be more of these sites/apps available but it will never decrease the demand for design and quite the opposite for development.

    I’m sure I will not visit or comment ever again. The author has NO experience as described in her bio (6yrs). Young inexperienced people have time for these things like blogs, experienced developers and designers don’t have the time as there too busy.

    I got to this page via Digg, so now I am disappointed I even came here. I’m sick of commenting on something where the author has no scope outside her cubical.

    0
  103. 163

    As long as web designers understand the fundamentals of design itself and interaction design there will always be a place for them, whether they are called web designers or not.

    0
  104. 164

    This is an interesting, timely topic. As content becomes front and center – as it really always was, just more online now, web designers could find themselves at a crossroads.

    I don’t think, though, that web design is dead or dying. I just think that aggregation is on the rise. Like someone pointed out above, though – it needs to originate somewhere, and that point of origin can’t look like a piece of crap.

    To stay relevant, I’d encourage web designers to go and further their education and study user-interface design. That’s a critical skill that’s very much needed, especially in developing web applications.

    0
  105. 165

    Google Chrome has “mozilla Prism” built in, check it out it’s called “create application shortcut” under the wrench menu.

    Clifford Stoll, wow, i hope this guy isn’t in charge of ANYTHING at ALL. This guy obviously can’t see a foot into the future when people who knew what they were talking about did. Stoll’s article is written brain dead.

    “for most users, design is irrelevant”… you sound like Clifford Stoll… seriously… compare web pages to android and iphone apps, MOST PEOPLE, will chose the better looking app OVER the one with a few more features. I think you’re pretty much just wrong, but time will tell. The lack of WELL DESIGNED and FREE mobile themes is the variable.

    I read a lot of this article, some of it was common sense, and a lot of it was just plain retarded. You shouldn’t be running any website, not even your tooth brushing schedule. Just another example of how any moron can get attention.

    -1 for SM for publishing this piece of crap.

    0
  106. 166

    Confusing… you are talking about only for 30% or less population. [FYI – http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

    I think still 60-70% population doesn’t have internet and they are doing manual transactions, I hope they will start use of internet in next 4-5 years but obviously always design is & will be major part of applications/web or any device.

    0
  107. 167

    Content was always more important than design, though. This isn’t new. There was never a point where we favored form over function.

    I think the limitations of our devices and how we interact with them has caused design to take a backseat, but this is temporary. Just as design evolved for desktop web over time, the same will happen with mobile/tablet/TV as those devices become more sophisticated in handling the web. Right now we’re in a transitional period where design has taken somewhat of a backseat, but it’ll be back, because people will always favor that which is functional AND aesthetically pleasing over that which is merely functional.

    1
  108. 168

    This is a great article, it is worrying how big these sites are getting and how users don’t understand if they are using a browser or not. I use Facebook and YouTube for my content and it is hard sometimes to give them content for free.

    0
  109. 169

    CONTENT IS THE KING – I agree with you
    but, I dont think that everyone will go for templates in the future.
    coz, everyone need to show a difference in their page.
    Web will go for minimal ,userfriendliness and interactive.

    In my openion, web designers in the future will not be a photoshop artist,
    they will be a designer with knowledge in interactive programming ( at that time Jquery or other libraries will be something BIG)
    So dont worry Designers… DESIGNER IS THE KING :)

    0
  110. 170

    Looking forward to the future myself.
    Agree that design, to a certain degree, is becoming less relevant while content is and always be king.
    Get me the facts, the data, the goods and get it to me fast. Encapsulate the data with a bit of design, works perfect with me.

    0
  111. 171

    I’ve been a designer for over 20 years so I have a lot to say on this subject. First of all is a description of what truly makes design a profession.

    I love this quote:
    “At Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, we believe design to be a humanistic discipline: the art of conceiving, planning and shaping products that are made to serve people in answer to their individual and collective needs and desires.”

    For as long as I can remember when I tell people that I am a Designer they automatically respond by saying one of two things. Rarely does anyone ask what I love to design or about design in general. Instead they ask 1.) Could you build my website? or 2.) Would you make a logo for my business card?

    This behavior is so common today because the average person has been trained by “professional designers”, impostors really, to think that design is about making things look pretty. This has been a huge error! Aesthetics can be a part of design but it only shines when it works seamlessly with the function of the design as a whole.

    In reality, for a design to truly work, the design must get out of the way. The most honest designers (only you know who you are;) are the ones that understand how to find this solution.

    So, don’t fret. Designers of all kinds will never be out of work unless they forget what their purpose is in the first place. This article shows that many of those that call themselves designers will be forgetting and failing fairly soon. The purpose is the user… duh!

    Want some inspiration?
    Read Design View by Andy Rutledge
    http://www.andyrutledge.com/

    1
  112. 172

    Nice article that makes you think. One important thing left out imho, is the fact that many brands will always want their unique recognizable custom design. For them it’s the main thing that separates them from their competitors. And don’t forget that customers also are emotional about it. On the other hand, I bet lost of customers don’t care too much about web design if the price is right (be it low or exclusively high).

    -1
  113. 173

    It is like saying, if all our clothes become Bikini, there would be no more fashion designers! On the contrary, you will need brilliant designers, who innovate in that small canvas. Same holds good for the web! Even if the entire web is going to be mobile…

    Big Screens
    So sad, we are blindsided by small screens! The revolution that is silently happening is bringing web to your TV. When you have such a big screen, there is some room for branding, and all that related with it!

    (The biggest irony is that the author address TV, and still is blindfolded by the fact. If she cares to look at the video, that she has embedded, there are webpages, which needs to be designed. Like the ESPN, and stuff)

    In future designers would be solving problems of interaction for various devices. You should end up tailoring the same site different screen sizes, from mobile to tv, and interaction – remote to touch. More problems to solve means more work!

    Mobile.
    Given a choice I would want people to read my content on a browser at home than read it in a mobile. Bcos mobile is suited to read the news, and the comment your buddy has posted on faebook. But if you want to read about a break through article, Mobile is not the best device, with all its distractions!

    Content
    Content is NOT the King. Content plays a part. Interaction plays a part. Design plays a part. That is it. Age of Kings are gone!!! If you still are interested in having something king, make that as Business. The trade is the real king! That is the end goal!

    Saying that content is the king is like telling that material is the king in the dress that you wear. It is wrong. It just plays a part.

    Take wikipedia. Content is totally crowd sourced. Content is the crowd. Interestingly enough, if you look at the Wikipedia Staff, – http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Staff – Only Programmers/Designers are paid!!! Interestingly there are NO Editors!

    At best, this article is the response to fear after reading Chris Anderson’s Wired Article – Web is Dead. Lets move on. Could have been better folks.

    0
  114. 174

    you are absolutely correct, since creating and maintaining your own website is expensive,because creating a website needs a professional web designer he needs a professional fee and your website domain needs also a periodic payment, isnt it? so how about, say using face book and create your own website insite it for free…no need to pay for your domain… just needs develop the web content of your webcontent with-in a web site say facebook and thats it!!

    0
  115. 175

    by the way we can use Flash and fireworks formated pictures isnt it..?

    0
  116. 176

    @Vitaly: Fire Cameron FOR GOD’S SAKE!!

    -2
  117. 177

    I think that too often people confuse design and decoration. The designer as architect will always have a place.

    0
  118. 178

    Even though things are starting to take change and go mobile for the internet, that does not mean that the Desktop/Laptop is going to be outdated. Many people do not mind using their mobile devices to access the internet, but like myself and many others I have spoken to about this article, mobile internet will ever be the same as sitting in front of a computer. It is a better experience than viewing the internet on a small screen.

    0
  119. 179

    I agree 1,000,000% with this article. I’m spending less and less time on upping my design skills and more & more time upping my OOP skills because of this premise.

    0
  120. 180

    This is a good article, but I think it takes a very “either/or” approach.

    Mobile apps are growing, true – but they are their own area. I’m not sure how much they take away from regular browser use, if at all. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

    It may be true that design doesn’t matter a whole lot on mobile apps, but I don’t believe for one second that this is the case on a regular browser. Content *can* bring me back, but a great looking site *with* content will win my attention everytime.

    It’s waaaaaayyyy too early to be forcasting the end of webdesign, and Stoll like to see the future of the web as being primarily mobile based.

    Mobile is a new thing & it works – so it is taking off. It has been, and will continue to take a slice of the overall pie, but it also creates a new pie while it does this.

    Think of it this way…. you can play games on a DS, but that doesn’t mean that game counsels like WII, PlayStation, or XBox are in any danger of going extinct. Neither are their game designers.

    I realize that this post wasn’t so much a declaration that web design is coming to an end, but it was rather fatalistic sounding. I really believe that web design is just taking off. Think of how many companies STILL don’t have a presence (or have a very poor presence) online and then consider the possibilities. Now add to that new innovations, technologies, and needs – and there is no danger of any designer or developer going extinct anytime soon.

    0
  121. 181

    My response was too long for a comment. To say I don’t agree with the article might be an understatement. I understand where the author is coming from, but logic being used is a bit flawed.

    http://www.drawar.com/posts/Web-Designers-Won-t-Die-Out–They-Will-Transition

    0
  122. 182

    Im sorry, but i must disagree completely with this post.
    I am a programmer, and studying Industrial Design BECAUSE i discovered that the form in that you present data its NOT just mere decoration. It adds to the function of the content your displaying. Without it, its just a spreedsheet.

    Function and form are NOT different nor separated. Function and form are part of the same thing. I dont think anyone want to see the web as a spreedsheet of data (well, maybe me) especially on this times where we see and overflow of raw data all over the intertubes.

    Design its not making things look pretty, it making it usefull and relevant. Its what provides the right context AND form to the information the user its looking for.

    You are completly loosing the point, if the user DONT see the desing THEN its a good design. Because it feels like the natural way the data should be seen.

    The future will have A LOT of room for designers who know how to do their job, and not just making things pretty.

    BTW: sorry for my english, not my main language :)

    PS: this remembered me of the article on wired “The internet is dead”.

    2
  123. 183

    You are trying to predict the future, assuming that things like internet speed and mobile processors/battery live will not improve. The main reason for using apps is that they are faster, and sometimes they offer functionalities not available to the web browser.

    It is likely that the internet speed and device capabilities will improve in the future, bridging the gap in performance between apps and websites. It is also equally likely that the browsers will include additional (desktop like) functionality. They are already doing it (html5).

    I agree that UX elements will get more consistent, but that does not remove the designers from the equation.

    0
  124. 184

    STRONGLY DISAGREE!
    Web design is what differentiates companies and communicates what a brand is all about. You don’t choose a restaurant only looking at the menu items and price. You need to be seduced by their brand. Businesses will always need designers to work in new concepts that will separate them from the pack no matter the medium.

    0
  125. 185

    Great article which was NOT written in Facebook, which makes me believe that aggregators like Facebook (yes, currently there is almost NO orginal content in Facebook) will not lead to the decline of websites but a change how websites interact with other services.
    Websites will see the need to serve certain APIs in order to communicate to the big social networks and apps (fb, twitter, linkedin,…).
    Yes, we use a lot of apps on mobile devices. But lets face it: where was this article written and where was this website designed and even Facebook? On a mobile device? No way.
    The mobile web (apps) are for “to go” but serious (corporate) work is done on real computers with large screens and the capability to run both: apps AND browsers.
    So we need to differentiate between mobile content and content for the PC…

    Anyway, as long as I read great articles like this in a browser on a website I don’t see websites going away :-).

    Andreas

    0
  126. 186

    The article you linked to in the intro as a good example of a journalist getting it wrong is quite ironic. Perhaps, if smashing mag manages to stay going for that long, we will probably link to this in 10-15 years and have a good old laugh about it.

    Just a quick tip, you would make your arguments and articles so much more credible if when you made a massively sweeping generalisation you cited a source to confirm your thoughts. Allow me to expand on this a little.

    “If everyone is accessing web content through an app rather than a browser, then no one will care what a website looks like.” – Wont they? has a data sample been taken form a survey or similar to suggest this is the case? Or is this just a guess?

    “This is because for most users, design is irrelevant. That’s not to say they don’t appreciate good design. Many of them do (and many of them don’t).” – Can we see the figures that suggest this is true? Maybe a comparison study between an app with no design merit and one that’s been crafted by a skilled designer – both offering exactly the same content – which one proved to be more popular? I’m assuming you did this study before writing this dribble but decided not to link to the results?

    “At some point we’ll probably have refrigerators that automatically generate shopping lists for us (including any available coupons and where the best prices can be found that week): based on previous shopping habits; what we currently have; and our average usage rates for different foods. This is just one example of how online data and content will become infinitely more important than the designs surrounding that content.” – Your right (wow) we may well see this technology emerging, but that doesnt mean electrolux wont spend thousands on making the GUI easy to use and appealing on the eye.

    “Look at how much content is now aggregated through Facebook. They have pages for virtually every topic under the sun (most of which have canned content taken directly from Wikipedia). Post a YouTube video to Facebook and your friends can watch it right there, without ever leaving Facebook. Even third-party applications like Networked Blogs stick pretty closely to the Facebook environment.” – Indeed, and a lot of this success is though a recognisable visual style that many of the less net savvy users can understand, trust and enjoy using. That’s good design.

    “Let’s face it: the technologies upon which the Internet is built aren’t the most efficient ones available. Part of this has to do with building upon infrastructure that isn’t as good as it could be.” – Are you talking about the actual backbone of servers across the world that make up “the internet” as we know it? I’m not going to get into that as I don’t know much about it, nor do you, so lets not try and write about it.

    I could go on picking quotes out like this all day. You could say I’m being pedantic asking for references sources and studies to back up the article, but this is important stuff, as you say yourself, its our livelihood. If I’m reading something that’s telling me I need to get another job, I’m going to question its validity.

    4
  127. 188

    This is the third article from the same author i have read that seems to have been written in a rush. Not much research and a lot of assumptions.

    0
  128. 189

    I always felt the term “web designer” was a confusing label and have tried to distance myself from it since I began. I’m a graphic designer/art director/creative director — the fact that 90%+ of my work is related to the web is incidental.

    The fundamental principles of design should be transferable to any delivery medium, be it websites, applications, or something else.

    I also don’t see content aggregators (which themself always require branding and design) as an indicator that the need for custom design is diminishing; not everyone who now publishes content to a generic blog system, FaceBook, Twitter, Flickr, etc, would have ever had a custom designed website to begin with. Most wouldn’t have, I think.

    0
  129. 190

    Well let’s see… I do agree with your thesis that in the future web designers won’t have enough opportunities because of all those apps etc.. but I believe with no doubt that web design won’t die out! There would still be room for it… many people who do not use these apps would be interested in actual websites with an innovative, aesthetic, unique design. In my opinion if there would be a transition in the role of web design the transition would be a good one. This transition would take web design to the form of an art rather than a commercial role….like it would be an underground thing! It wouldn’t be that available to the public so that it would become more precious to some people and finding a good web site with a good design etc… would be respected by a whole lot of artists and designers. I guess its its role would change and the targeted people would change too!

    0
  130. 191

    Those are the articles that I liked to see more. Well done SM and Cameron.

    0
  131. 192

    What a narrow minded way to see the world of the web?!

    I totally disagree with your point. Asking companies, people, news corporation, etc, to all use templates (that were made by designers) would be like asking everybody to speak the same language. Who would like that? I think cultural differentiation is one of the best thing in this world. It what makes us unique, different and somehow better. The impact would be from lack of core values representation to a unidirectional way of thinking.

    I think you’re right for some cases, but absolutely wrong for most of the other ones. The web is and always will be a way to access information. Whatever it’s for reading news, or browsing new products of a company.

    If I visit quiksilver.com’s website, I don’t want to see a product listing, I want to see what the company’s all about. Designers who understand this right will always have a place and that place is as much nor MORE important because it’s not about what we see, it’s about how we see it.

    Remember, aesthetics, beauty and logics sells and even more these days.

    Why would you pay double of the price for a laptop with an apple on it then?

    Too all designers, open yours minds, think differently and innovate. The world will always need you !

    0
  132. 193

    this is scary for me because I just graduated from a two year college in digital media, and reading this makes me want to change my career :C(

    0
  133. 194

    damn, this is sad for me, I think I need a career change,

    0
  134. 195

    This is a nice article and I agree that the internet is trending towards apps — but I think it shows a lack of life experience on the part of the author. Business people generally do not want a ‘one size fits all’ solution for their projects. I have seen this time and time again across multiple industries. The person in charge wants things either ‘their way’, or somehow unique or original. As long as there is budget for design — there will be design. Those who choose to ignore design will ultimately lose business to those who embrace design.

    1
  135. 196

    178 comments, set in the same typeface with a considered line length and lead, delimited top and bottom by white space and line and visually ordered via a tastefully offset post index… couldnt that be called “designed” “content”?

    I havent checked but I’m guessing these or similar aspects apply here in my browser, on my phone, or in Instapaper. Anyone that would say that this isnt necessary obviously has never tried reading an untagged txt file in their browser.

    0
  136. 197

    I never would’ve thought that a post like this could be published on smashing magazine. Seriously, what you guys thought before publishing it? Design is an integral part of any and every media without which I doubt nothing can be completed. Design is not just some pretty colors, shapes, or rusty grungy textures. Design is an identity. Content presentation is a part of design and as long as human race remains, design will remain. It is perhaps the most amateurish post from a good blog I’ve ever read on the web until now.

    And those of you guys who are thinking about career change sadly won’t fit for much of the careers because it’s about trusting your talents and having an insight knowledge about your field. A business isn’t a sheep following the rest of the flock. It’s uniqueness of your thoughts and the way you handle your business that truly defines it. Thus next time you read a post think before you comment.

    1
  137. 198

    Sorry, but the question is a bit silly and short-sighted. Humans will always interface with machines and devices, so we’ll always need interface designers. Expand your idea a little bit when you consider what a “web designer” really is.

    0
  138. 199

    That’s true…

    0
  139. 200

    Interesting article. I think you will see a trend in the opposite manner in the next 10 – 15 years. People are going to need designers even more as the internet becomes a whitewash wasteland of template data aggregators. Sure everyone will be able to use an app to view content on their mobile phone, but the true experience will still live with the visitor using the computer. I also think there will be a moment when everyone decides enough is enough and recognizes the problems that arise with being connected 24/7. I find it very taxing trying to constantly keep up on all of the various networks and frankly have enjoyed the moments without my phone or computer. It seems to bring back the humanity. Just my 2 cents. Regardless of what the future brings, we will adapt. That’s what we are good at, solving problems through creativity and there are always going to be problems.

    0
  140. 201

    There are always two sides. Everyone who’s thinking about a career change take a look at this:

    “We are in an App Bubble. That’s what I argue in a new post for Fast Company. One day the proliferation of apps will look as dated as Pets.com, Kozmo, and everything else that seemed promising in 1999. In the end, the average app—15,000 of which are submitted to Apple’s App Store each week—has little to no chance of breaking even or achieving breakout success. When the app bubble bursts, the paid app business model may be the source of as many broken dreams as the dot com boom was at the turn of the millennium.”

    http://notesondigital.com/2010/08/the-app-bubble-factor/

    1
  141. 202

    Useless article, it’s obvious you’re not a designer, probably someone who lacks taste

    0
  142. 203

    This article and its ilk spew misinformation, stifle innovation, insult progress, and promote FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). This ill-qualified writing reduces the credibility of Smashing Magazine to the sensationalism of Wired magazine. Chapman’s writing in this article is the equivalent of trolling the Internet on the whole. Please don’t publish content like this again!

    1
  143. 204

    This article is fiction written by someone who hasn’t been in the business long enough to know what she’s talking about. I think we can all relax. Unless you also think the world is ending in 2012.

    0
  144. 206

    I don’t think apps are ever going to compete with web browsers. An app simply has no value to a small business, not to mention the amount you would need to switch from a web browser to a desktop app all the time.

    Companies will always require bespoke websites, no matter how good a piece of software is at making sites they will never have the functionality, especially for large organizations that require a site customized around their business needs, that can grow organically as the company does.

    Not to mention building even a good basic website requires you to have knowledge on how websites work, seo ect. Its often easier and less hassle to let a professional web company do the full works. The web market is forever expanding, if anything its giving us designers more work than it ever has.

    0
  145. 207

    Who are they? Twitter, Facebook and Google.

    -Seriously? Where’s the explanation how twitter would continue to be the primary content delivery platforms??

    0
  146. 208

    I think clarification is needed on the definition of ‘design’ in this article. It is seemingly used here to mean the ‘look’ of a site, when in actual fact the look is only part of what design is.

    0
  147. 209

    Content being king is true in every medium. It was true in the 1800′s and it will be true in 2025. Design was important in the 1800′s and it will still be important in 2025. It is design that differentiates one product from another, it doesn’t matter if its information or if it’s a car.

    Of course Facebook and Google would like to “be” the gateway to all information on the Internet. Just like Ford or Toyota would like to be the gateway for all driving. Neither is going to happen. Why? The same reason we don’t all wear the same color of shirt, drive the same model of car and read the same books .

    Of course the web is going to change and the profession of web designer/developer or whatever label is applied will evolve. Some will keep up, others won’t. This is true in EVERY profession, not just web design. You are only stating the obvious.

    As far as apps filtering our information. That’s been around a long time. Magazine and book indexes, rss feeds, music charts, but when you want to dig deeper into the information design matters big time.

    Design has mattered for the last several hundred years and it will still matter in the next several hundred years. It’s a basic human need no matter if it’s the information we consume or the clothing we wear to cover our bodies.

    In my very humble opinion this article is very short sighted.

    0
  148. 210

    If you check out this author’s profile – do not click on the link for “Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an On line Celebrity.”

    Avast reports it as infected.

    http://null.charlottebackcountryexpeditions.com/in.cgi?2|>{gzip} [L] HTML:RedirME-inf [Trj] (0)

    Further, I find it very hard to believe that this person is a
    “professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience” – just judging by what I saw on her first site and the complete lack of any content regarding web design. Creating a Word Press blog does not a designer make. A construction working with his/her own blog could have posted this with just as much credibility as this woman has.

    This is clearly blatant self promotion (for her supposed writing skills) with absolutely nothing to back up the idiotic statements that are made in it.

    Smashing should be ashamed of themselves. They should pull this article and end their association with this author. Then they should also apologize to the users.

    This is easily the shoddiest example of content I’ve ever seen here. You aren’t going to sell your e-books by giving voice & credit to people like Cameron Chapman.

    1
  149. 211

    Content is, was and will be the King even in future, But good design enable you to better comprehend content, by providing good visual Information architecture, improving readability…etc. Hence if designs are used to enhance these features of the content. Design will not die, but yes space for unintended creativity might die, but not purposeful design. Who is going to read through pages of content if they cannot quickly figure out whats the heading, sub heading , and content.

    0
  150. 212

    What is going on here?

    This site has been a reference for web designers and developers during quite long time and now is just a joke with silly post like this or others like “Showcase of submarines websites in Ethiopia?

    Something is change and I don’t like it.

    0
  151. 213

    Ghaaaaaaa…change!

    0
  152. 214

    Totally disagree with this article

    If you wanted to make an article, I would be tempted something on the line of are agency’s going to be soon dead rather than web designers.

    You talk about functionality is more important then looks and customer’s don’t care about design – As a frequent web user and obviously many friends, as soon as you go onto an online retail store that looks like a template or has a bad design, I know many people who turn away.

    I work fulltime as an Interactive Art Director for a Fortune 500 Company, my position is a new one. I think the trend is more for BIG company’s to start bringing designers in-house and eliminate the need and use for using agency’s. I think agency’s will be the one’s who have to adapt as a whole.

    You can be a designer and walk into an agency or an actual company, and the sooner company’s realize they can save money and get the same work from an in house designer the more the move will be popular.

    Web Designer’s aren’t dead. Web Design is about Marketing – Marketing is making things look good – Company’s need designers to make their products look hot and good online. Company’s will start to employ in house design teams rather than hand off work to agency’s. Agency’s are the vile of the earth – they go to company’s, talk lots of technical jargon, do a kick ass presentation and then give a stupid quote which company’s just eat up. As soon as company’s find out that agency’s are rubbish, agency’s will die and design teams will move in house.

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  153. 215

    Interesting view of the current situation on the web.

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  154. 216

    LOL… Showcase of submarines websites in Ethiopia!

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  155. 217

    this story made a desinger cry

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  156. 218

    I think the design tools will evolve towards simplification because the marketers want creative control. Years ago print design was a culture much like present day web design. Today a variety desktop publishing applications bring this capabillity to all and that sub-culture has changed. While there are still graphic designers, and having tools does not mean having talent, it just seems the natural evolution will mirror that process for web designers. This has been going on in smaller companies for some time now.

    Dreamweaver classes these days seem to be filled mostly with marketing people from what I have seen. It seems the artists cache is wearing off design in that regard, and of course its content that is going to prevail.

    While those of us who have been around for a while will always notice great design we in the end will surrender to the utilitarian forces that really drive the internet.

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  157. 219

    I would have to agree with Danny, Julesfrog and others. In my experience it’s tremendously hard to sell a company a template. Companies own what they buy and try to control it’s use. I’ve even had a big name commodity try and trademark our UI. It’s the value of the company brand manager that’s going to keep the designer relevant.

    That said I do believe content is king, but let’s continue to push design with color, shape, form, and content.

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  158. 220

    Saying that webdesigners wont be needed because of apps is like saying business cards wont be needed because of the yellow pages. Business owners will always want their presentation to be more than just their PR text. They want it done in their environment, their colors, logo etc. My 2 cents.

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  159. 221

    Ponti - Moacir Ponti

    September 27, 2010 5:50 am

    It is very clear. Of here forward the art the graphic drawing should be more original and no an automatic process. To have content and concept. Because we will be working for only one people divided in million.

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  160. 222

    I’m sorry but I think everyone is missing the point!

    As a designer I still ply a LOT of my trade within the print industry, from creating high end brochures to stationery sets and branding exercises, plus much, much more…

    I have actually reverted from designing predominantly for the web (I’d say about 80% output) back to the core aesthetics of print, driving traffic, OFFLINE to people’s businesses.

    Why have we become so consumed by the internet??

    Yes we can obtain information quickly but for me the web is one of many marketing tools and in my opinion there will always be a place for the experienced designer, not just your build a template guy!

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  161. 223

    The author indeed has some reasonable arguments behind his line of thought, but maybe the topic is too sensitive and it should be less “offensive”.

    Indeed there is a transition to Web Apps and indeed Facebook / Google / Twitter (and possibly other popular apps) are becoming “the internet”.

    Regardless, myself, as a Designer, I do not feel at all threatened. This is why there is no extinction to the Design – it’s just a transition into something else.
    From loaded graphics, animations, flash-cute-menus, to functional, clean, easy-to-read layouts and User Interfaces.

    Transitions like these have happened lots of times in the past. The Web is still molded. Probably lot’s of stuff we consider as given today, will be obsolete in two years time.

    Adapt!

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  162. 224

    smashing magazine are retarded programmers! this won’t be good for you this article

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  163. 225

    The web without design would be like people without personalities. Design will be around forever. Just as web design progressed, designing engaging apps will too. Designers are vital to developing a company’s brand. Could you image Nike without the swoosh or a cereal box without Tony the Tiger? Facebook and Twitter do not produce your brand, only content. What is content without context?
    At the end of the day, a graphic or web designer must expand their horizons and offer clients more than just design. I would expect today’s designer to have back-end programing skills. Knowledge is power. The more you can offer, the better off you are now and into the future.

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  164. 226

    The article simplify too much the role of web designers, labeling them as the “aesthetic professionals”, and it´s not the truth.
    In my opinion, the article has a reduced vision about the reality of web design universe, disregarding the capacity of designers from creating, not only beautiful e pleasant interfaces, but also intuitive and functional frontend applications.

    When it´s mentioned that apps are reducing the necessity of visting web sites, it´s partially true. But, apps also needs an interface, doesn´t they?

    And even the issue of “beautiful and pleasant” interfaces has an big importance that affects directly the users experience.
    This article from UX Myths (http://tinyurl.com/2choatx) demonstrates a few topics about the importance of aesthetic on interfaces.

    So, I feel like the article was pretty much shallow and superficial in its conclusions.

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  165. 227

    wow!
    as a veteran programmer and web developer (I’m an artist as well) i feel that this article misses the point, hare is why.
    as much as i know, the internet is an Information and business source not an entertainment or twitter/ face-book place. yes they are big players but not the real thing they come and go (remember Myspace).
    the strides of browsers is much bigger and faster then the strides of the apps and devices keeping it behind at every turn.
    and if small businesses cant afford an app for the few lines of info they want to get out; then the apps are NOT in any way going to replace the browser (in terms of information)
    Yes the entertainment part of the web is definitely pushing them selves into apps, but the money making factor cant afford and cant fit (at least till I’m proven wrong)

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  166. 228

    I live in a small-town area, and those small business people understand (1) a conscientious person looking out for their best interests is crucial to their website’s success and (2) that their site looks *1 million times better* than the guy who bought a site from GoDaddy for $120 a year. In fact, if I can’t convince them that my services are more valuable, then I shouldn’t be in this business anyway, right?

    I see more and more people diving off the Facebook bandwagon. What used to be a pseudo-useful networking tool is now just a trove of ex-high school students sharing whether or not their kids are (a) happy, (b) healthy, (c) dressing themselves, (d) making mommy want to go get her nails done, and (e) saying just the cutest dern thing you ever did hear. In fact, most people I know learned quickly what a vortex of instability and insecurity Facebook is, blocking anyone they haven’t spoken to in the past 6 months and not allowing Facebook access to anything. That is, if they’re still on there at all.

    As always, what is trendy will die down over time and it will be the trusty, hardworking nuts-and-bolts people who will survive regardless of what a Facebook or a Google tries to do. I own a Roomba, and the novelty of it is the best thing about it; I still have to use my 10-year-old upright if I expect the floors to be clean. Lest we forget, it’s the little guys that drive technology and build nations, and the big guys that lobotomize and destroy it.

    0
    • 229

      “I see more and more people diving off the Facebook bandwagon.” So do I, surprising you don’t read more about that, but in real life, dealing with clients I see the same thing.

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  167. 230

    This article reminds me of the Web Service Api’s hype few years ago where RSS would replace most web sites. Never happened …
    In a society or platform with a huge population or user base; the need for the individual to express more personality increases. Visuals are an important way of achieving this target.

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  168. 231

    This article is right on the money, this has been something that’s been bugging me and many of my colleagues for a while. But designers (at least the one’s I talk to) don’t just create pretty images, they also creatively solve problems like layout, readability, tone, rhythm and a lot more when manipulating content so this might be the way to go for us, to provide a packaged solution for clients that want to have an online presence, beyond the visual field. Ultimately, I think the generation that is coming up will rebel against all this connectivity that is bringing us together to separate us, and will ditch all connectivity to become the “offline generation” using merely those systems that through automation let them live their lives without having to worry about the petty tasks, allowing them to focus on their relationships and experiences with the real world. Just a thought.

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  169. 232

    I have to disagree completely. Trying to deliver content without any design sense is just as absurd as trying to design without having any content to work from. The two have to work in tandem to convey meaning, tone, voice and brand.

    -1
    • 233

      Completely agree. I feel fortunate enough to be a designer first and programmer second. I know so many programmers who can build a site from the ground up but cannot design a meaningful UI. You will lose users quickly if the site, app, etc… looks like stale potatoes.
      I’m sick and tired of every website, ad, and TV show advertising Facebook, Twitter, etc..
      We should bring back the page counter and place it next to all the social media icons placed on home pages. How many times can you render a bird? And what’s up with all the fat footers with meaningless content? And why do I want to follow you? Are we playing hide and seek?
      Smart and good design is everything.

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  170. 234

    I’ve published a response to this article here: http://www.kmsm.ca/?p=644387592

    In short: yes, web design has a future. And it’s a prosperous one.

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  171. 235

    “they don’t care about interaction designer that much, either: as long as the design doesn’t give them a headache or interfere with their ability to find what they want, they don’t really care how exactly it looks like or how exactly it is working. ”

    That is precisely what an interaction designer is for – to construct layouts which don’t give the user a headache or interfere with their ability to find what they want. If anything, this sounds like an argument for the relevance of an interaction designer, not irrelevance.

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  172. 236

    this article is seriously a piece of trash !!!

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  173. 237

    I will concede that this article has merit. Functionality has always been of the utmost importance whenever you use anything. As a user, the last thing that you want is a product, device, or website that you cannot understand how to use. But functionality can only go so far. Design will always play a part. Whether web design will become background noise has yet to be seen. But degrees in web design, often include more than just the skills you need to create a website. Or at least mine has. The degree that I’ve earned will hopefully evolve with me in the course of the future. But that relies on my effort to stay current and update my skills whenever necessary. We aren’t just designers, as Michael Aleo says in his counter article, but more than that – we hold a myriad of tools at our fingertips.

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  174. 238

    While this article has a few minor points worth reading, it’s mostly been published for shock value. I am disappointed with SM’s decision to publish it.

    The author does not have much experience and she’s written a book dealing with sensationalism. How am I supposed to take her seriously? SM’s value has decreased because of this article and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have lost a few viewers.

    If you want to read a serious article about similar topics then read Wired’s “The Internet is Dead” http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1.

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  175. 239

    I think you are misundertanding what Web Design is. Maybe you don’t do much of it – but it is in fact a very complex multi-discipline task involving 8 discplines : programming, graphic design, UX, usability, branding, marketing, behavioural economics and digital strategy. To say that companies that sell products online will no longer need any design skills, and therefore no branding or experience, is ludicrous. It is generally a big mistake to think that the internet has it’s own rules and commerce will some how follow different rules to the High Street – it won’t. When we buy online we follow similar patterns of behaviour. These will not change because of aggregators. We will still have a choice of suppliers and will choose according to our experience of the website. Web design is a much maligned branch of design, too narrowly defined and generally derided as poor man’s design. To say that as long as a site doesn’t give a user a headache it is designed enough is plain wrong – the only barriers to entry on the internet is branding and user experience, and with out design there is neither. The design of interfaces is the key to next 50 years in technology, and web design will be a major part of that. Read my article on the 8 Disciplines of Successful Web Design – http://openingup.sumac.uk.com/2010/09/22/the-8-disciplines-of-successful-web-design/

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  176. 240

    Not a very good article, badly researched and no real facts to back anything up at all.
    Any designer out there who has designed for major companies knows that websites are not going anywhere, designers have more work than ever and the avenues of work is growing day by day as the internet evolves.
    Large companies moving to template based sites is honestly laughable.

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  177. 241

    Juan Miguel Valbuena

    September 27, 2010 2:30 pm

    Is this real? when I read this I think why waste time working on html 5 and css 3 or new browsers, I think theres a lot of work to do in web design, I think this article is just thinked to the geeks and not the thousands of people arround the globe, people who lives from brands or design or style, maybe If you just need an app why think in a web platform, but what about kids who loves play or talk with friends in a friendly site, or what about the housewives who doesn’t want a smartphone, they just need a computer and a browser or what about the porno lovers??? we’re just gonna put an app for that? maybe you are just thinking in the people with smartphones or people who loves the technology but there´s a lot of “normal” people who wants just the classic way. Sorry for my english…

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  178. 242

    Although there was some strong points here, I’m still not convinced. We’re already seeing a shift for “web designers” toward UI designers and UX because of growing app demands. Yes the future may not hold room for your average web designer of today, but for those in the industry this will just mean a natural progression into these areas. Yes, I believe that content is King also and that is will be easier for businesses/people to simply use templates or themes more and more. However, any brand that takes themselves seriously will want more than this, which is where the money is anyways right?

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  179. 243

    This article equate design to aesthetics which is totally misleading and wrong.

    Everything involves design even technology is a product of design.

    “The absence of good design is chaos.”

    and

    “The absence of good article is negative feedback.”

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  180. 244

    Cameron’s article equate design to aesthetics which is totally misleading and wrong.

    Everything involves design even technology is a product of design.

    “The absence of good design is chaos.”

    – please don’t delete this comment.

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  182. 247

    That was a really interesting way of looking at the future of web design. I agree with the fact that applications play a major role on the mobile market, but I firmly believe that users that surf websites from home or an office appreciate a good design. I’m pretty sure noone wants to look at tables…

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  183. 248

    No wonder – look at her website

    http://cameronchapman.com/

    Smashing magazine, don’t use this pathetic person again

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  184. 249

    Use this information wisely.

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  185. 250

    To take it a step further, why not re-introduce AOL/Prodigy/GEnie circa 1990? Those got the boot because the rest of the world wanted what you right now seem to think is superfluous.

    Where any brand or identity or experience is important, so is design. Where content is important, you get a newspaper.

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  186. 251

    To suggest that companies will use a default skin for there apps is ludicrous.

    The amount of time and money spent on ‘branding’ a company is ridiculous, and that isn’t going to stop because developers think it makes sense from a profit point of view.

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  187. 252

    In that case, all designers should dissapear from earth! Why companies should bother creating a logo and a style guide for their corporations? They can just use an Arial bold font with a white background. Why Coca Cola should bother paying millions of dollars to advertising agencies creating campaigns? They can just print a a few “drink me! ” flyers in a home printer and spread them around!

    Design is essential in making a company unique. It is not just colors and nice shapes. And that INCLUDES online presence. What we, web designers, have to do is keep updating and improving our skills, and that is also part of our jobs – if we want to keep them for long term ;) -

    0
  188. 253

    Needs really a career change. Its possible somehow and in anyways. Can you suggest aside from being a content writer?

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  189. 254

    At first glance you may think “Oh my God what will I do?” She makes some valid points and suggestions.

    But people get real here. There will always be the need for a designer. Maybe not in the same way it has been over the last 10-years but still we are needed.

    UI will always need to be designed. As well she mentions companies buying templates; well who do you think is making the templates?

    This will weed out the weaker designers for sure. And it means that as a designer you better be up to date with modern technology and techniques.

    No more web designers…….ha ha ha…..that is laughable.

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  190. 255

    I do believe apps will be the way forward and as a result the way in which we use the “PC” will change. However, if this is true, where do we go to download the app in the first place?

    Whether its via the browser, via itunes or via something else, visual designers will still be required to design the sites that sells all of these apps.

    0
  191. 256

    Wow! You forgot to point that content is design and design is content! Can design really vanish? Do you imagine a world where only function exists and no form? haha
    nice article…

    0
  192. 257

    I want to see it from the other side:
    As a company what is the point of developing an app for the iPhone, one for the Android, one for the Blackberry, one for the iPad…. I can go on, but you know where I’m coming from.
    Why developing all these apps while every device can view it all in the same “app”: the webbrowser.

    The reason at this moment is
    1) speed: less data throughput equals higher speed.
    2) lots of screen resolutions on different devices

    1) As mobile bandwidth will increase in upcoming years (in a couple of years 100mb or more on a mobile device is becoming reality), speed won’t be an issue anymore
    2) With the upcoming HTML5 and CSS3 media queries will solve most resolution issues

    With that in mind companies will leave the apps more and more behind and go for websites that reflects the identity of the company. Branding is important.

    Users will use an “app” they know inside and out: the (mobile) web-browser, and it works for every website.

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  193. 258

    Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Web Designers?

    0
  194. 259

    Some interesting thoughts Cameron, many of which are valid. Bottom line is that the online sphere is always changing and web designers and developers will always need to adapt to these changes.

    So, does the future of the internet have room for designers? Of course it does. Our roles will definitely need to adapt to the future changes but that’s part of the fun of being a web designer and working in the online sphere. :-)

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  195. 260

    Hey, I gotta agree. I even with most sites look uniformly (with same best design), because there are many sites with brilliant design and boring content, and many with good content but horrible design.

    0
  196. 261

    I believe the word ‘web’ will die before designers. While we won’t be web designers, we will still be designers, and will adapt to the new technology. I wrote a bit of a response to this article on our blog: http://www.fullcreative.com/2010/09/the-designers-full-time-job-of-staying-relevant/

    -1
  197. 262

    I’m late to the party, but I think there was alarm over nothing here. I am a designer and to me, you’re describing nothing more than medium shifts in the Design field. It’s happened before…it will happen again.

    I was trained in print design originally as were a lot of us, but overwhelmingly practice web-oriented work now. From sites, mobile apps, banner ads, etc. I am still practicing design…still making a decent living doing it and still using the principles I was taught in school.

    I thought your observations were interesting and non-threatening if taken under this perception.

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  198. 263

    “It’s likely that there will be a bigger market for templates and themes as companies stop paying for custom designs.”

    I don’t know how you can NOT find this article sensationalist. Statements like the one above are so over the top. Maybe small companies and one man shops will be purchasing templates when they start out. But you’re basically saying that branding is dead. Any business worth its salt will eventually develop its brand and want to carry that through to their websites, apps and any other online and offline presence.

    I do agree, though, with many of the comments. Shifting your focus from visual design to UX design is probably a good move for most designers.

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  199. 264

    While studying Mechanical Engineering in college I was learning and working in PHP, and now 8 years later I am working as PHP developer, and till now I have suspicions about the future of the Internet.
    But I deeply believe, that the future of the Internet will be bright for someone sets his goals correctly and effectively tracked the changes/transitions .etc of his career and who always re-align to his goals.

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  200. 265

    There is no reason to worry – as soon as all become identical in their content – designers will be needed again. That is an energy conservation law. More precisely, anywhere they do not disappear. In addition to the content of the letters there are a visual content do not forget!

    Moreover – text content will be so monotonous and similar so seems that only the design will be able to make it unique. It’s like in the Industrial Design or Car design. Many cars are very similar, and differ with design only .

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  201. 266

    This is one of the most submissive articles I’ve read in my life. Not everyone is willing to roll over and die for monopolistic giants like Google and Facebook.

    The author writes like a lobbyist for the said giants rather than as an objective observer appraising the trajectory of the internet.

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  202. 267

    Cameron, it is an interesting concept. However your experience of 6 years is still not enough to take your opinion too seriously. Website templates will never be the choice for any company who wants to create their own brand, so the idea that people will just start using templates shows your lack of knowledge with marketing and branding, not to mention the importance of individualism within your business. Can you really see McDonald’s, Burger King, and Windy’s all using the same website but their own content? Take it from someone who has been doing this work for 15 years, and this year has been my busiest, that “web designers” will not be going anywhere. In fact, seeing that you are not a web designer you show a lack of knowledge in what we do. We are not all pixel pushers. Perhaps your article would be better received making the distinction between a self proclaimed web designer who purchased FrontPage on sale, and then those of us who only write code in notebook without a program.

    FrontPage owners went out of business 5 years ago, but those of us who do quality work will always have a place in the industry. And this industry will grow as companies realize they do not want to be template oriented and they want a professional web designer, not a hobbyist. I can not tell you how many clients just this year have hired me to take the website their cousin did for free and make it a professional website.

    I think you have a gap in your knowledge and experience within the web design industry and the future needs, but with only 6 years experience it is understandable. iTunes was predicted to shut down the music industry by now, yet people are leaving iTunes now and going back to the music stores. Do not count your chickens before they hatch, and any designer who is jumping on your bandwagon and thinking about designing bulk templates will find themselves selling their designs on a template website for a .10 cent commission per download.

    We need more qualified web designers, those will be what the demand is for in the near future. Uncle Bobby and his $100 FrontPage websites will be a thing of the past. There is a God! Now if Microsoft can render valid HTML I will be in developer heaven.

    5
  203. 268

    Art won’t die and web designers won’t die :)

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  204. 269

    New career? Well maybe like the function over ruling form principle, we see we can be reversed into a better role in the same career.

    In the physical world we make an architectural plan BEFORE we build a house.

    In web history, we built a house BEFORE we planned it.

    Then 10 years went buy, and every one has the gas peddle to the floor from that mode (a large population with tech slums which will collapse) so, hit the brakes, and look at the map:

    What we learn is ironic and bass-ackwards, but actually hopeful:

    NEW!: In the VIRTUAL world we make an architectural plan BEFORE we build a house we LEARNED.

    See? We have been laying brick and breaking back, when we are the architects.

    So, shift gears and hat, give the hard hat a break, and now sell the plan.
    In concept form, up to any level of detail and size, and let someone else build it, or your contractor in the new mindset I’m talking:
    Planning with ACCURATE, unbiased, broad and free information! It is potentially worth millions, hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention time, and effort, to so many potential future Internet “home” owners.

    Sell the plans, not the house, because in the net world this article describes, the plan is worth far more, because the house, has become invisible, worthless in many forms constructed today, and even completely demolished.

    Planning docs are easy (just 4 pages, can save thousands), artistic, and in analysis, planning and architectural forms of nearly infinite opportunity of simplicity OR complexity. Sell “paper” with info on it, in any form, like an architect today, sells plans. (A revolution/2)

    The house it appears, is in a slow deconstruction, so many can benefit from it, if you can sell the paradigm. No more mouse callouses!

    1
  205. 270

    Web design isn’t just about making colourful illustrations and web 2.0 buttons. It’s about layout, structure, navigation, branding for your audience, usability, blah blah. And it would be foolish to think mobiles and web apps don’t need designers. With so many iphones and other smartphones around I could actually imagine the need to design purely for mobile decreasing over time.

    The internet will not turn in to a mass of data accessed only by apps. Huge dynamic sites and web apps aren’t the only thing on the internet.
    I can see it as more likely that websites will have to be available in many forms.

    And since when has the internet NOT been content driven. Content has been king since day 1 and thats never changed.

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  206. 271

    Whilst I agree with many of the comments saying that there will always be a place for the designer. Someone has to design the interface used for the information, no matter where the information is viewed. And even if the information is viewed almost anywhere, people will still want to have their own site. because it gives you a feeling of ownership. Would you start a blog like this if you weren’t going to have any kind of say over how it’s distributed? Where you have no control over any advertising being placed in the info? either because you want it there to make money or if you don’t want it there. either way works because either way you still have no control.

    I also see the need for these other distribution channels. Without my RSS reader, I would have to go to many sites every day to check them. If I’m honest, if I had to do that, I wouldn’t bother with most, and would miss a lot of useful information.

    There is also a site I like, which I use in my reader, and on mobile, but I refuse to visit the site in the regular way, because the design is hard to use. It’s a shame because it’s a photography blog (which shall go un-named) which would be nice to view pictures on a larger screen, and in context.

    1
  207. 272

    The biggest fallacy is to consider design and content as separate. In everything, matter, form, and function are inseparable.

    Wasn’t haphazardly laid out content with blue links the only thing on websites a few years back? That was also ‘designed’ albeit badly, just like there’s good content and not-so-good content. Same with design. That’s when that bad ‘web design’ evolved into the much better web design that we come across today, because the improvement was needed and fulfilled a purpose. Similarly, function or html and other programming languages have also evolved for the better. So if content stays and improves, function stays and improves, then form also stays and improves, by default.

    Also, the article assumes “no one will care what a website looks like” absolutely disregarding the fact that form is paramount in creating distinction in the minds of the viewers. That’s where branding comes in. If everything is a sea of content, whether on mobiles or not, people won’t remember what is what provided by who. Now of course businesses don’t want that, do they? Unless, google and facebook are all that we use which is far fetched. Besides, monopolies don’t last, do they?

    Users need visual variety for recognition and comprehension, and form provides that. Visual recognition is especially important in web/screen based devices because that is the primary interface for interaction between human and the gadget. Hence, graphics are a necessary part whether less or more in appeal and amount.

    As long as there’s a need for creation, there will be a need for designers, regardless of the platform or arena.

    I can write a whole article on this! :)

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  208. 273

    Daniel Schutzsmith

    October 5, 2010 4:33 am

    15 years. 15 years, thats how long I’ve been a “web designer”. But do I call myself a web designer? No. Why? Because a true designer doesn’t settle on one platform, one tool, or one methodology.

    There are many naive statements in this article and many commenters have already done well to point them out.

    The only thing that I would like to add is that, with all the ups and downs I’ve seen in this industry (almost since real “web design” began), I can tell you that as long as you stick to the true nature of what design is (def. visually solving a complex problem or process), then you’ll always be needed.

    1
  209. 274

    Bravely and well written. dont listen that stupid people, cant think out of the box. looking forward for more.

    -4
  210. 275

    Great article and so many valid points offered in the subsequent comments. I would feel somewhat threatened if I positioned myself solely as a ‘web designer’. If you are a designer your role is to put order on chaos, to put a user friendly face on data and content and to add value to the presentation of information in the form of aesthetic appeal. If you believe you are a designer you have nothing to fear as your skills as a visual communicator will always be required… app interfaces, informational graphics, etc. I can conclude that the term ‘web designer’ is dead… at last.

    0
  211. 276

    Wow! I had to scroll for a looong time to get to the bottom of this thread. I can tell this is quite an emotional thing for all of us who do web design, but I agree with Consumer Slave. There will always be room for custom made, made with love and passion, touched by a human hand products – no matter what they are: clothes, food or websites. How much room – that is the question that I don’t think anyone can answer, but it is in our human’s nature to want, to need something that is made by a human, not cloned from a template. As long we we remain humans, there will always be a need for that human touch.

    0
  212. 277

    I don’t know, I may be a day late and a dollar short, but most “web designers” I know are refugees of the print design and desktop publishing industry who are now scrapping their Dreamweaver installs in favor of a CMS and text editor. This is only about a dozen people but it seems to be spreading.

    0
  213. 278
  214. 279

    thanks for crushing my dreams

    2
  215. 280

    “in my opinion” the word “web-designer” has mutate quite a lot in the last 5 years. Now days, our web designers are also designing web apps which were not so popular on the past.
    Of course, there are lots of areas for “design” such as GUI designer, CMS designers and such but how do you properly define a “web designer”? what does a web designer do? – there are tons of answers.
    When you hire “web designer”, the profession name its not even close enough to provide information of the person’s capabilities or knowledges. The word “web designer” itself cannot be presented as an static word or profession definition. It’s just like saying that you are a programmer. Its just not enough.
    I think that it doesn’t matter how high it’s the technology we apply on the web, web designers will always be required (did you ever saw a website without a single line of css?). Based on the GUI report (available at isynapps.com?url=download) done by a German company in October, most of end users still placing design and usability as one of the most important factor when deploying apps (ria) and websites.
    so, “my conclusion” is that (regarding the content of this article which makes a lot of sense if you think of “web-designer” as a guy who only makes design for web-sites and nothing else), as long as apps and dynamic websites are required, web-designers who are constantly updating their knowledge to keep up with the edge technology will also be required.

    2
  216. 281

    Businesses will always need their own unique design and domain name to differentiate themselves from the rest. It gives users the chance to see all the unique options they have. There is infinite freedom with web browsers on how to present and display your content, thats the great thing about it. The concept of web browsers and a unique domain name are vital. Changing this concept would be a big mistake, and I certainly hope it doesnt come to that.

    Think about it, we have the ability to create something completely unique off of a blank canvas and upload it for the world to see instantly. If its all fed through apps then you dont have that freedom.

    0
  217. 282

    Unless your given time to be creative then forget web design your just a code monkey.

    0
  218. 283

    apps do not remove the need for design. this article reduces design to pretty color and layout or the candy shell of a site or a thing. Web design…UX design…UCD design ….. starts at the inception of the solution… the candy shell part of design seems to be at the center of the debate and i still disagree. There is a design to everything we use online and offline.

    0
  219. 284

    This post is really awesome ,

    0
  220. 285

    Dear, I love the way you want to be famous and market yourself. But this is not the way lady. I don’t see any difference between art and web design. You know web design trend changes everyday with new trends coming constantly in the market. And this will never stop because we change everyday. Our liking and disliking are changing everyday. I have 10 years experience and I am still not a gr8 designer. Because I have more things to learn and this will never stop till my life ends. For me web design is a part of the creativity. And creativity lies everywhere….

    0
  221. 286

    It’s an accurate article and even if you don’t think so, follow the advice anyway and you won’t lose but rather be more valuable.

    I am 55-years-old have been working as a graphic artist since the paste-up days. I also make a hefty income by staying current and following any advice that says improve yourself.

    Get out of your comfort zone and make stuff.

    0
  222. 287

    There is definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I like all of the points you have made.

    0
  223. 288

    Spoken like a true compassionate liberal I see.

    0

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