Technology moves rapidly, turning the tried and true into relics of the past. It happens to every industry – web design included. So it seems that there are those who look at web designers as somehow being headed toward that same obsolete status.
With the advent of better do-it-yourself tools for creating websites, the power of complex layouts are no longer just for CSS junkies. Using high-end WordPress plugins enable just about anyone to add functionality like eCommerce, forms, multimedia and more.
While those tools are all well and good, I still don’t believe it makes web designers anywhere near obsolete. No, in my admittedly biased opinion, I think quality designers and developers are needed now more than ever. Here are just a few reasons why…
We Serve More than Hamburger Helper
I’m not much of a cook. But give me a box of Hamburger Helper, and I can create something resembling a tasty meal. Still, for the health and well-being of my family, a well-prepared meal that didn’t come from a box is far better.
Similarly, no matter how good a page builder or 3rd party web application is at helping the non-technical person set up a website, they don’t provide the experience or expertise that a real designer can.
No question that some technical aspects of the job can be replicated. But the knowledge of knowing what solutions work and how best to implement them isn’t really in point-and-click form just yet.
A good designer/developer understands the needs of a specific project and comes up with a strategy to see it through the entire process. It takes time, energy and a sharp mind to create a truly custom website.
Professionals Sweat the Details
The little things can make all the difference in both design and functionality. In code, one false move means something is potentially insecure or just plain broken. A developer can surely make mistakes, but a good one will test their code again and again to ensure it works.
A designer’s eyes can pick out the details that make a website work better for everyone. Text that doesn’t provide enough contrast, layout elements that don’t quite work on a mobile device, etc. are crucial to usability and accessibility. Testing in multiple browsers, operating systems and devices can find bugs that otherwise could be missed.
In other words, it’s our job to think of everything. The non-technical user dragging and dropping elements in a browser window may not realize all of the other aspects of readying a website for launch. Attention to detail is too vital to leave out of the process.
Who Can You Call?
As any of us who’ve worked on the web know, there is no shortage of things that can break a site. Server issues, malware, software incompatibilities, user error and other mayhem are always right around the corner. When it happens, it pays to have someone on your side who has been there before and can help set things right again.
Personally, I’ve been contacted by several site owners over the years that have tried to go it alone and ran into major problems. Sooner or later, a lot of people realize that it just makes more sense to bring in a professional to handle things.
That’s not to say we have all the answers. But we do have the skills to do the research required to find the right answer and help clients through a tough situation.
Your Skills Are Needed
All tools have their place. Whether it’s a WordPress page builder plugin or a service like Wix or Weebly, they each have their own unique value. Some are even used by professionals for a variety of reasons.
But these tools are just that – a means to perform specific tasks. They are not built to fully replace a person.
True, there are people out there who are dedicated do-it-yourselfers, willing to learn the ropes of setting up their own website. And more power to them! But, for most people, they simply don’t have the time or willingness to learn it all. Sooner or later, they come to find out that a professional is needed to perform certain aspects of site building and maintenance.
So, while tools will continue to evolve, don’t look for web design to become a fully-automated industry anytime soon.