I Want To Be A Web Designer When I Grow Up

Advertisement

Editor’s Note

This article is a rebuttal of “Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Web Designers?1,” published in our “Opinion Column” section a couple of days ago. In that section, we give people in the Web design community a platform to present their opinions on issues of importance to them. Please note that the content in this series is not in any way influenced by the Smashing Magazine team. Please feel free to discuss the author’s opinion in the comments section below and with your friends and colleagues. We look forward to your feedback.

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

Last Thursday afternoon, I spent about 30 minutes doing a question-and-answer session over Skype with a Web design class in Colorado. I was given some example questions to think about before our session, which were all pretty standard. “Who are some of your clients?” “What do you like about your job?” “Who is your favorite designer?” I felt prepared. Halfway through the interview, a question surprised me. “So, are there any jobs in Web design?” When a teenager from a town with a population of 300 asks about job security, and the others sit up and pay attention, he’s not asking out of concern for my well being. He’s asking out of concern for his own future.

My response was, Yes, there absolutely are jobs in Web design. “Web design is a career that will take you far, if you’re willing to work hard for it.” And that’s the truth.

Two days later, I go onto Smashing Magazine and see Cameron Chapman’s article, “Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Web Designers?” and nearly choke on my cereal. After reading what amounts to an attack piece on my blog2, and after corresponding with Smashing Magazine’s editors, I suggested that they let me write a counterpoint. They agreed.

We’re Not Web Designers

One of the biggest misconceptions about designers (and usually Web designers) is that we’re just Web designers — that the scope of our skills begins with Lorem ipsum and ends with HTML emails. This is ridiculous.

Everyone in this industry fills dozens of roles throughout a given day. On a call with a prospective client, we take the role of salesperson. After the contract is sorted, we become researchers, combing through the client’s outdated website, looking at analytics and identifying breakdowns and room for improvement. Soon after, we become content curators, wading through the piles of content in PDF format sent by the client, identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Then we’re architects, laying out content to get the most important messages across, while ensuring that everything in our layouts remains findable. We design the website itself. We manage client expectations and work through revisions. We write code. We introduce a content management system. We carefully insert and style content. We create and update the brand’s presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We help to create an editorial calendar to keep content fresh and accurate. We check in on the analytics and metrics to see how the website is performing.

Notice that “design” is mentioned only once in all of that work.

You have only to look at the topics covered on websites such as Freelance Switch and Smashing Magazine to see the range of roles we fill. We’re used to adapting and changing; and as the Web adapts and changes, Web designers follow suit. Just as video didn’t kill the radio star, Twitter won’t kill the original website.

Scrivs wrote a great article on Drawar3 highlighting some fallacies in the original article on Smashing Magazine. I think he sums up the “You’re just a Web designer” issue well:

You can’t get caught up in the term “Web designer,” because if you do then you are taking away the idea that a great designer can’t learn how to translate his skills to another platform. If we are designing applications that slurp content off the Internet to present to a user, then soon we will all be Internet designers. That removes the Web designer burden and changes things a bit.

Content Has Long Been The Undisputed King

Let’s make something very, very clear. Good Web designers know that their job is to present content in the best way possible. Period. Bad content on a beautiful website might hold a user’s interest for a few moments, but it won’t translate into success for the website… unless you run CSS Zen Garden4.

In her article, Cameron gets it half right when she says:

As long as the design doesn’t give [the user] 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.

I agree. The user is after content, not your gradient-laden design and CSS3 hover effects. Your job is to get them there as painlessly as possible. At the same time, great design can enhance content and take a website to the next level. Great design not only gives a website credibility, but it can lead to a better experience. Mediocre design and great content lose out every time to great design and great content. It just makes for a better overall experience, where content and design both play a role.

Photo5
Kristina Halvorson, habitual content supporter, giving one of her famous content workshops. (Photo: Warren Parsons)Image credit6

You Can Always Go Home

Cameron makes the argument that feeds are taking over the Web and that, eventually, companies will just use them to communicate with customers.

The idea to simply rely on facebook.com/companyname instead of running an independent website where content originates and filters out simply won’t take with companies. Companies will always need a “home base” for their content. The change will be in the media through which healthy content filters out (such as Facebook, Twitter and RSS).

Scrivs makes this point in his Drawar article:

In essence, what is happening is that sites have to realize that their content is going to be accessed a number of different ways, and if they don’t start to take control of the experience then someone else will. RSS didn’t kill website traffic or revenues because there are some things you simply can’t experience through an RSS feed Just because how we consume content is starting to change doesn’t mean that design itself is being marginalized.

Content isn’t just about press releases and text either. Ford would never give up ford.com for content in a variety of feeds and aggregators. Ford.com lets you build a car: where’s the feed or application for that? Ford’s entire business depends on the functionality of its website. Its Web team has worked hard to create an inviting user experience, unique to the brand’s goals and issues. No company wanting to preserve its brand or corporate identity would give up its main channel of communication and branding for random feeds sprinkled across the Web.

In the same vein, no company would suddenly give up its carefully crafted creative and regress to a template. Templates have been around for years, and no company with any kind of budget would use a $49 packaged solution from Monster Template if it can afford to pay someone to address its particular needs and mold a website to its content. A template doesn’t take needs or goals into account when content is pasted in. A good designer makes choices that a $49 template won’t make for you.

Cameron talks about how businesses will gravitate to standard templates and away from hiring 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.

Web designers don’t just add borders to buttons and colors to headlines. Web design is as much about problem-solving as anything else. And part of the puzzle is figuring out how best to deliver and promote content. Not everyone has the same issues.

JulesLt lays out this argument in the comments:

[…] 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. […] 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.

Nick adds to this argument about templates:

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.

Andrei Gonzales eloquently sums up the difference between Web design and decoration:

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.”

And moreover, we’re already in Cameron’s bleak future scenario where web designers should be a thing of the past. Companies today can buy a template and feed their content to whoever they so please. And yet, they aren’t. When the designer created that template eight months ago, he didn’t know that their business was having trouble marketing to middle-aged women. That designer didn’t know they’re a family-owned business in a market where that kind of thing leads to improved revenue and sales. How could he? He’s Andrei’s decorator, solving the issues between lorem upsum and dolor sit.

In Conclusion

Web design has changed drastically during its brief existence. The changes in the medium year after year are actually quite amazing. The industry looks vastly different than it did in 2005, and we’ve changed with it. Change is inevitable, and it is the reason you visit websites like this one: to stay current. That hunger is the key to ensuring the survival of our industry.

The bottom line? Web design is a secure and growing job market. Two sources that are something of authorities on jobs and Web design agree on this point. The United States Department of Labor predicts7 that positions for graphic designers will increase 13% from 2008 to 2018, with over 36,000 new jobs being added. It also states that “individuals with Web site design […] will have the best opportunities.”

And in the 2008 A List Apart Survey For People Who Make Websites8, 93.5% of respondents said they were at least fairly confident about their job security.

I’ll sleep well tonight knowing that the industry I love isn’t going the way of the dodo… and that I didn’t lie to a class full of eager young designers in Colorado.

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/09/24/does-the-future-of-the-internet-have-room-for-web-designers/
  2. 2 http://michaelaleo.com/2010/09/sensationalist-magazine/
  3. 3 http://www.drawar.com/posts/Web-Designers-Won-t-Die-Out--They-Will-Transition
  4. 4 http://www.csszengarden.com/
  5. 5 http://www.flickr.com/photos/60581615@N00/3502122037
  6. 6 http://www.flickr.com/photos/60581615@N00/3502122037
  7. 7 http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos090.htm
  8. 8 http://aneventapart.com/alasurvey2008/11.html

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Michael is a designer working in Washington DC to create beautiful and useful web experiences for an array of organizations and their users.

Advertising
  1. 1

    I think I started programming when I was about 16 in 1979, and turned professional when I was 19. About two years later I started being inundated with articles in the trade journals and magazines informing me that computer programmers where going to be obsolete in a few short years, because the industry was quickly developing expert tools that could generate code faster and better than any human. These warnings were everywhere in the 1980s, and they went on for several years until people came to their senses.

    Thirty years later I’m still programming professionally, and have been developing for the web for the last ten years. I am reminded of the Arab proverb: “The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.”

    5
  2. 103

    This is the kind of content Smashing and its readers deserve: high quality, thought through, well-written.

    Web creatives (my term) have one extra benefit over a theme or a Facebook page: they contemplate the state of their profession and have strong ideas and visions about it. And they write smashing articles as a result.

    3
  3. 205

    I greatly appreciate your response. Some have said above that this article is an over-reaction, but I think it’s great to clearly hear your passion behind web design.

    It’s funny, many people, who are not in the industry, think a web designer simply sits and designs “stuff” similar to an artist. When I am talking with new clients I like to hear what they think I am doing for them as their “web designer.” The results are usually, “oh, you’ll be making a website for us” or “you’re going to make it pretty, right?” Of course these are true statements, but when I go into my full process: sales, project management, content analysis, design, development, deployment and maintenance they quickly understand the value and price tag!

    Great article! Thank you.

    0
  4. 256

    Good designers, with lots of experience and contacts or those working for big studios will be OK. It’s the small guys, the little freelancers that will hurt the most, because Mom n Pop bakery is getting savvier, the new generation of business owners that grew up with technology are coming up, they know about WordPress and how to use Facebook and to buy templates and show up in Google maps and they will use that until they have enough “dough” to hire an agency.

    So there might be some cleanup going on, but that’s it. We also need to understand that there will always be little companies out there that don’t want to do it all themselves! They need to focus on their business, not updating their “pages”, I tell a lot of my clients: “As owner of this company, what are you worth per hour to the company? Now look at my hourly rate… and it will take me half the time than it will take you… do the math”

    Freelancers and small market designers have to team up (collaboration is the salvation) to offer a full set of solutions and target larger clients that are over the hump, one person alone just can’t do it all anymore and can’t compete with free or low priced automated systems.

    This subject cannot be looked at in BnW, there are just too many shades (clients, industries, environments, specialties, etc.) to draw a conclusion as harsh as total annihilation of our species.

    1
    • 307

      “Good designers, with lots of experience and contacts or those working for big studios will be OK. It’s the small guys, the little freelancers that will hurt the most, because Mom n Pop bakery is getting savvier, the new generation of business owners that grew up with technology are coming up, they know about WordPress and how to use Facebook and to buy templates and show up in Google maps and they will use that until they have enough “dough” to hire an agency.”

      You must be related to Nostradamus, because this is an incredible skill you have to predict future events while also making it sound very gloomy and depressing. I suggest that you stick to your web design business, learn new skills, do well as you can and enjoy your work. ;)

      0
  5. 358

    gr888 post. Thanxxxx

    -1
  6. 409

    a web designer that has to code is like an architect who lays bricks…

    -5
    • 460

      A web designer that doesn’t have to code, is a photoshopper

      5
    • 511

      An architect still needs to know their materials and how they can be used with their design – even if they are not the ones laying the brick. Otherwise it could all fall down.

      3
    • 562

      My father is a successful architect, having designed buildings, retail shops, and homes in different countries.

      He also does his own DIY, can do carpentry, and sometimes designs the furniture needed to finish off an interior, even having “ironsmiths” build custom TV stands that he designed in order to install his client’s TV on a rock-face wall.

      His other colleagues are well-versed in which materials to use, their pros and cons, and keep up with new technology (electric glass, computer-cut and treated pre-fab wood, etc.)

      Architects know their “code”.

      Designers in the automobile sector aren’t much different. Their work deals with solving quantifiable issues such as drag, interior space, safety zones, accessibility, making a car child-friendly, luggage space, sound isolation, and knowing which parts and materials are the better choice to ensure that they can be shared across platforms to reduce cost, yet without diluting the experience of the car or the brand.

      They too, know their “code.”

      As I’ve said: design is about problem solving. How can you truly solve a problem when your “knowledge” is so severely limited that you don’t even know the pros and cons of your decisions due to your ignorance?

      Anyone who calls himself a web designer and can’t code should just take up scrap-booking.

      3
  7. 613

    We are not just web designers but also pioneers of the internet. A lot of our creative skills are implemented and seen amongst the world. Whether the internet changes in our favor or not it’s because we inspired it and we will adapt to the change like we always have.

    2
  8. 664

    …what if I haven’t a Facebook account (and so it is)?? No company can reach me… World will always need webdesigners, probably we’ll only change name

    1
  9. 715

    Thank you, Michael, for continuing this conversation. I believe that right now Web Designers are faced with the daunting task of overcoming the main-stream conception that all we do is decorate. It’s really not surprising considering one definition of “design” is: “an arrangement of lines or shapes created to form a pattern or decoration”. But a second definition of “design” is what we really do: “purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object”

    Changing this misconception is up to us. We must educate and be good representatives of our profession. No more designing for decoration! Design to solve problems!

    (Shameless promotion: http://www.awebsitetolove.com/understanding-design/ :-)

    0
  10. 766

    Also, how do you SEO within Facebook?

    Plus, what about business to business websites? No one is going to build their only site on Facebook for this. They would never be taken seriously.

    I think email newsletters, offering sales & product discounts and then point them to their website to purchase are probably more effective than a Facebook account that drives them to buy virtually nothing.

    0
  11. 817

    Unless we start weeding out self appointed “designers,” the term “web designers” will be phased out.

    The problem that I see is not so much the extinction of web designers/developers, but rather a overflow of bad to mediocre websites built by those who do not understand the foundation of HTML/CSS (I’m looking at you Dreamweaver!)

    I for one agree with the fact that the traditional web designers (those who slices up photoshop mockups) is better of fading away. But if you’re a hybrid (design & development) then you will rule the web world.

    3
  12. 868

    Internet is not social media.

    world population
    6,871,600,000
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

    world population with internet access
    1,966,514,816
    http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

    facebook users (+- 25% of internet users)
    500,000,000+
    http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

    0
    • 919

      I agree, Internet is not social media. I don’t want all my friends knowing every article I view, video I watch or comment I make…. I would end up with no friends and their would be no social media !!

      1
  13. 970

    Cameron Chapman was absolutely 100% right. In fact, all of you should start looking for new career paths right now. I mean it. Get out of the business. But before you do, please send all of your clients to me. Thanks.

    6
  14. 1021

    Chris, thank you for your insight. I really appreciate it. As I said I’m not going to give up on it. Mastering one skill then keeping up before it evolves seems to be key and web dev moves fast!

    Peter, No, I do not think that buying CS5 will magically make me an awesome web designer. However, it is a nice thing to have and for the less web savy employer they see knowledge of this stuff as a staple even if it isn’t needed. If someone asks me if I know how to use x,y,z program. I want to be able to say yes, confidently. There is nothing wrong with that. I’ve coded many websites with just notepad and I still do. In fact I did this post in notepad before I posted it! While I -can- code, I am more efficient as a graphic designer so CS5 is also much a toy for myself as it is a design tool.

    I appreciate your feedback but I wasn’t looking to be made an example of. No one wakes up knowing how to code flawlessly. It takes time and effort. People who want to learn are not the problem. If they aren’t qualified or up to their employers standards they won’t be hired. That is how it is and its completely understandable.

    0
  15. 1072

    Are web designers becoming extinct? In regards to the web designer of 3 – 5 years ago, yep. But in my opinion so is the web developer, at least the front end developer. It’s not a lack of demand, it’s just a demand for a different skillset, or perhaps a more complete skill set. People become dinosaurs in the industry because they fail to adapt to the changing climate.

    I saw someone above say blah blah blah mobile/iPhone blah. That’s the dinosaur mentality. Ignoring the fact that in Japan over half the web traffic comes from mobile devices, and in the US we’re trending to those types of numbers is like sticking your head in the sand, oblivious to reality around you.

    Most of these posts have the big brand philosophy that consumers will come to you. If we all worked for only big clients, we could continue in our jobs the same way we have for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, all clients aren’t big clients. Just like the door to door salesman of the 50s and 60s, we have to go to consumers (because our competitors will), which means Facebook. Love it or hate it, a company’s reach is a lot farther on Facebook then it is on their own domain name. If the audience goes somewhere else, the business goes there too.

    1
    • 1123

      But still, this all seems to be obvious for business to consumer…

      What about the other 50% of the industry, business to business?

      I hardly see companies building their corporate websites on phones, facebook, youtube or even Linkedin.

      0
    • 1174

      Don’t forget the very basic Facebook ecosystem: you can’t be accessed by a business unless you allow it. How can a business get you to see their Facebook content if you don’t “like” them, or don’t see them on your feed? Ads can only go so far.

      A website still provides the most complete platform for presenting vital information to the consumer (whoever they may be) for any business. Those who underestimate the importance of branding will take the cheaper routes (whatever they may be), and those who don’t will invest in a unique website.

      0
  16. 1225

    in the end it’s the 9 and 10 year old that would decide what good design is, no amount of this high fa-looting trained designer mumbo jumbo matters

    0
  17. 1276

    Bravo, really.

    1
  18. 1327

    I appreciate the response article to the previous controversial piece. However, like almost everything in life there is truth in what both sides are saying.

    Like it or not, sites like Facebook and Twitter are so prevalent that as more businesses are developing social media strategies, their overall web strategy is expanded beyond their typical corporate website. This isn’t to say they will neglect their website, but it is realistic to assume to say that less time and money will be devoted to it.

    I don’t have a reference, but I think it would be safe to assume that magazine, TV, and radio marketing have taken a hit due to the popularity of the web. However, companies still market through these mediums and are highly successful! Looking back at these older mediums, there is little danger of the web designer role becoming extinct. Like many have said, worse comes to worst it will evolve to fit the market’s needs. Besides, like Michael said, we aren’t strictly “web designers”.

    You have to remember, a website is just one part of the overall marketing strategy a company will utilize. As more mediums become popular, in most cases fewer resources will be dedicated to the rest of them. Templates will likely become more popular as web sites become less of a focus, but there will always be a market for a custom solution that will outshine a pre-packaged solution.

    1
  19. 1378

    hmm ,the comments is much better to read :)

    -1
  20. 1429

    Great excerpt on the topic! I enjoyed reading it, knowing that I am part of the group that is always hungry for more knowledge. Thanks for supplying it!

    0
  21. 1480

    This post was great. It’s all the things I have been thinking about but have not seen them on paper. Good Stuff. I wrote some similar stuff on our blog. LegworkCreative.com if anyone would like to check it out.

    0
  22. 1531

    Great article. I agree.
    I love this sentence:”Let’s make something very, very clear. Good Web designers know that their job is to present content in the best way possible.”

    Have a nice day folks!

    0
  23. 1582

    Very good article indeed

    0
  24. 1633

    Seriously, is there any point to this article? The web is evolving and designers will have to evolve as well. Facebook and Twitter are great marketing tools but are also limited. Maybe in the future designers will switch to making Facebook themes for large companies but I don’t think anyone can argue that .com real-estate will always be around and so will web design.

    1
  25. 1684

    The facebook.com/companyname idea reminds me of the early days of myspace. Bands jumped on board as it was the perfect promotional vehicle where they could communicate directly with fans, didn’t have any retail needs and their popularity could be tracked. But now we are seeing bands going back to having their own websites. They need a base that is personal and brings together all the other elements.

    0
  26. 1735

    When I first read the previous article, I also felt a bit disturbed. And, just like many, my first reaction was: “wait a minute! I’m a designer, first of all! I do NOT build websites. I build communication, relationship, brand recognition, innovation. My clients come to me NOT asking for a PSD and XHTML or whatever acronym we may use. They ask for commercial results and revenues!” You see?

    And that’s extensible to almost any kind of product, service, object in our daily lifes. Why cars aren’t all equal? Why smartphones aren’t all equal? Why even cigarette lighters aren’t all the same? Why there are still designers and engineers all around the world, working day after day, to build cool new stuff, if we could simply stick with what we already have?

    Cameron, the author of the previous article, simply started with a completely distorted idea of what we and our profession are. And from there on, nothing else more made sense.

    3
  27. 1786

    excellent article ..
    this is the perfect reply for those who support the article “Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Web Designers?”

    0
  28. 1837

    *Stands and applauds

    uh, yeah. That other article posed a series of interesting concepts and notions, however it was disconnected from reality a little bit. Much like the article about designing without PS.

    whats with these chicks?

    0
  29. 1888

    I was a designer before there even was webdesign,
    Since 10+ years I’m doing webdesign.
    If webdesign should disappear,
    I will still be a designer.

    3
  30. 1939

    In the beginning of the “Does the Future of Internet Have Room…” article, there is sentence that should have kept many readers from worrying about their future careers in web design:

    “And the truth is, none of us really know what will happen with the Internet in 10 or 15 years.”

    As more of these types of articles start popping up, we need to be critical of their content and realize that nobody really knows whats going to happen and even the most informed people on the topic cannot accurately tell the future of web design.

    Also, I think also its important for writers on these topics to be careful with strong authorative statements that many people will read as concrete truth instead of conjecture.

    Having said that, I think myself and other love reading these articles. Recently, Wired Magazine’s article called “The Web is Dead, Long Live the Internet” touched upon many of the same topics as this article. In it they give a balanced view of how the Web has changed since its inception and how this will effect business online in the future. Instead of trying to predict what the future of the web will look like, its gives a complete look at where we’ve been.

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1

    0
  31. 1990

    There are over a billion websites…Facebook is one of them, and every page looks the same! It’s ironic how often sites like Smashing will often feature the “50 most beautiful, fashion websites”, “25 Cool Coffee Websites”, etc. and yet harbor opinions about these very things being virtually irrelevant.

    Yes the web is all about content but it is a supreme stretch of sensationalism to say that the visual manner in which it’s presented is a moot point. A car takes you from point A to point B but yet the auto industry flourishes with a splendid range of designs, price points, features, shapes, sizes etc. Books are strictly about the content they offer, so how come when we walk into Borders every single book doesn’t look exactly the same (save the title)?

    Design (be it web or otherwise) is engrained into our culture and our lives as humans far beyond web or technology. It’s why we have museums, artists, it’s an integral basis of world commerce, its in the toothbrush you decide to buy at CVS (but aren’t they all just bristles that scrub your teeth?)!

    I don’t want to live in a world where the look and feel of the environment is standardized to maximize the efficiency of the contextual message…and apparently neither does Tokyo, Paris, Chicago, Sydney or any other place in the world that looks and thinks different than any other place. People, all people, creative or otherwise, are emotionally stirred in some manner from design…that will literally NEVER change.

    3
  32. 2041

    Psshhhhhhffffttttttttt. Puhlease.

    While my current day-to-day activities involve web browser-delivered applications – I am NOT a “Web” designer. I am an application/UI/Workflow designer.

    I don’t care what you’re delivering your snazzy new application in. Sure, I can code for browsers with the best of them – but, I WILL excel in whatever you throw at me. Be it a browser, a phone, or a space-time continuum beebozoolator.

    Human interaction and ease of task completion is our primary focus – don’t ever forget that.

    1
  33. 2092

    Wow I was fearing for my career after reading Cameron’s article, but this has reassured me a bit.

    After all, the majority of companies place a high emphasis on ‘communicating’ the nature of their company through design. One of my most recent clients specifically requested his website to have a really corporate look to it. He wanted photos of business people, photos of expensive cars, jQuery slideshows of landmarks around where his company is based, as well as animated phrases that sum up what his business offers. All of this was directly aimed towards his target audience.

    How could you get a message like this across through a Facebook page or RSS feed? You couldn’t, well, not yet anyway. These applications would have to develop so much that they would have to allow the content deliverers the ability to customise how their ‘page’ or ‘feed’ is displayed in these applications. Which would then make room for the ‘Internet Designer’ role identified by Scrivs.

    Still, I can’t help but think that Cameron raises some really valid points. After all, I rarely visit the Smashing Magazine website these days as I tend to just stick to Google Reader, I’m only on here now to write this comment!

    Also, I listen to Last.fm stations purely through their desktop app, and only on their website when I’m using somebody elses computer that doesn’t have the player installed. I do regularly visit the website anyway as there is a lot of content / interactivity that isn’t available through their desktop app, but if all of the functionality from the website was included in their desktop player, would I really bother going on their website? Hmmm probably not, unless to appreciate the design… but how many none-designers would do that?

    1
  34. 2143

    great article.

    0
  35. 2194

    I think its time to redefine what a web designer is. I stopped using the term entirely, except as a very loose category. I use it when talking to folks outside the industry. I think it is better to use terms such as:
    Graphic Designer
    User-experience Designer
    Front-end Developer
    Back-end Developer

    Most folks have a range of skills. However, I bet that anyone who calls themselves a “web designer” better fits into one of the above categories.

    I think a Web Designer should be defined as a specialty within graphic design. Until it really redefined, maybe it should be avoided altogether. Does someone want to write up an article on this topic?

    0
  36. 2245

    I think that the term “web designer” can mean many things these days. Many of us are hybrids with a bunch of different skills mainly because we need to be in many cases.

    Are you a designer, a coder or a bit of both?
    http://www.cre8ivecommando.com/are-you-a-designer-a-coder-or-a-bit-of-both-5075/

    0
  37. 2296

    I consider myself a web developer, or a programmer on that, then a web designer second. I believe in designing for functionality but no one can’t deny that eye candy catches the eye of clients.

    Arthur Abogadil
    Lead Web Developer, philcoders

    0
  38. 2347

    sigh of relief. I wondered where Cameron gets “graphic artist” credentials. She has not portfolio to show.

    0
  39. 2398

    The comments have gone mental – took me ages to scroll down!
    Great post though, although I have forgotten what its about now Ive finally reached the bottom.

    Personally I call myself a web designer. Been a designer for 11 years the last 2 have been purely on the web… I’m not a strong enough web coder to class myself as developer even though I can do a mean website start to finish.

    0
  40. 2449

    Maybe a good addition on this article, especially in the discussion of content vs design and the use of templates, is a report published by the BNO called Design Effectiveness, this publication conveys the relation between design and firm performance on different levels.

    http://www.bno.nl/images/library/File/RSM_DESIGN_EFFECTIVITEIT_ENG_DEF.pdf

    0
  41. 2500

    Fully agree with you on this. To be frank, Cameron’s article was boll*cks.

    0
  42. 2551

    In reference to the argument that social networking sites such as Facebook are taking the place of a business having their own proprietary web site, I find it helpful to remember that each of them have their respective roles. At the risk of over simplification, consider this:

    There is no doubt that social networks, such as Facebook have proven their effectiveness in regards to engaging people and providing forums for large numbers of people to rapidly communicate and for businesses to rapidly interact with their particular publics. Yet, metaphorically, we are still talking about comparing “apples” and “oranges”. Using the following analogy, I explain to my clients that both social networking sites and proprietary websites each have unique purposes for which they are best suited, and using both of them correctly is the best way to optimize the customer relationship experience.

    I often compare it to the “brick and mortar” experience of meeting people at cocktail parties, public events, trade shows and other places where people mix and mingle. This is the Facebook experience. You may engage in a lively discussion, industry gossip, talk about the weather or favorite entertainer, exchange business cards, give them a brief elevator pitch…you may even show them pictures of the family, the dog and the cat. But, you are still on someone elses turf. Now…that you have met them, you can extend the invitation for them to come to your place of business…your office. This is your company’s proprietary website. Now you can WOW them by giving them an experience of your business they can’t get anywhere else.

    While the comparisons may not line up exactly, the way I see things, giving up your proprietary website is tantamount to giving up your companies headquarters and doing all of your business at someone else’s locations.

    You can meet and engage prospective customers in a variety of forums, but, potentially, you can get your customers involved in more exciting ways at your own website.

    I am a management consultant/business empowerment coach, however I am very familiar with the work of “top knotch” web developers and designers. There is nothing like a well designed proprietary website. My crystal ball says that web designers who stay current have a bright future ahead!

    Michael, thanks for a great article!

    P.S. Any comments on gamification/game mechanics applied to web design?

    1
  43. 2602

    Well, said. I wanted to give you a present:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM0dbwDc2FE

    One down. Now we have to continue teaching the rest of the world what Designers do like we do every day. Sometimes I think THAT is my real job. ; )

    -1
  44. 2653

    Amazing article!

    “The point” will always be the content and the user, the design will always be there to “enhance” (even that this word doesn’t fit the real extension of Design) the content and make it better to the user.

    We can’t forget a simple fact: we’re all the same species but we’re all differents as individuals with specific needs. A small company can start with a Standrad Theme (Niche Theme/Template) for his website, but in the right moment this won’t be enough to fit their needs, or in the worst case, the bussiness will never grow up.

    0
  45. 2704

    Good rebuttal. Some of the arguments were a little silly (like the whole sales person part). But the point is solid. As long as things will be made, there will be a need for designers.

    Period.

    As far as the form vs. function debate? That will rage on forever.

    0
  46. 2755

    Web design/development as a secure profession? I disagree. The market will become more quickly saturated than say, the car industry crying for factory workers.

    We simply don’t need -that- many working with web design/development.

    -2
  47. 2806

    What a great article, and the very reason my company is not called “XYZ Design Company” but “XYZ Web Solutions”

    Taking a project from conception to launch and beyond requires meetings, research, analysis, strategy, implementation, testing & repeat.

    Thanks for clearing this up for those who think placing text and images in an HTML document makes us a web designer.

    Ciao!

    0
  48. 2857

    Thank you for writing such a great article. When I read the first part several days ago I was super upset at everything that I read.
    As a new web designer, growing up in a world where social media is growing faster than we can believe, I know how important websites are..and will be for a company. As you mentioned, a website is an extension of a company, not just a content based place to go.

    1
  49. 2908

    Thank you for a great article! I’m a new designer working towards my B.S. in web development. Thank you for verifying that I’m on the right path. Templates have and will always be limited in what they can do for a business. My future is very secure.

    0
  50. 2959

    Nice article, tho it sounds a bit too dogmatic to my ears.

    1

↑ Back to top