Is web design dead?

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Is web design dead at all?

‘’Web design has no future’’ according to Mashable. A bold statement to make? While it has brought to many designers’ attention, it doesn’t mean that web design has become irrelevant.

Here are the key points made by the article:

The landscape of websites today is dominated by templates provided by some services like WordPress and Drupal, enabling the users to focus more time on content creation. Professional-looking websites on the go.

Web design has been short of innovation, too. Responsive and parallax scrolling are not as flattering as they used to be. But then it has a positive side, as things get standardised, every website behaves consistently, making them easy to use.

Prevalence of mobile apps has saved us a lot of time from directly typing on search engines. Even responsive websites are limited in terms of space on the mobile interface. Even Google is making some significant change to show content directly on the search engine results, so that you won’t need to visit the actual web page.

So ‘why hire a web designer’?

Web design will no longer be the main dish. Rather, it is going to be just a part of a much bigger digital picture – made of UX, mobile app and so on.

And then there’s the rise of and evolution of social media. From Pinterest’s buy button to Facebook’s mini business pages, social media are transcending the boundary of ‘social networking’.  And then, there are Google’s free website services.

So are those factors really making web design obsolete?

‘Professional design vs. templates’

But to balance the debate, we need to look at the other end too.

Here is an interesting counter-argument by an article on B2C that draws an interesting analogy between the 80’s camcorders and web design.

‘’At some point in the 80’s camcorders became affordable enough that many households had one, but nobody looked at this new availability to create your own video as a replacement to getting a professional advertising company to shoot your business promo or TV ads.”

Looking at this gentleman’s brilliant sales video, it proves that just because you have a phone camera, it doesn’t mean that it can replace professional TV ads.

Many use web design as a primary branding tool. So how would standardised web design templates help businesses stand out from one another? Facebook business page alone won’t effectively deliver the right tone of voice and look-and-feel as all template websites tend to look alike (minimalist and white background). And what happens to SEO? Will look-alike websites have the same level of exposure? Similar web design gives the users similar impressions, making it harder to differentiate which products/services are the best matches.

Designing through storytelling

‘Content is king’, they say. But that doesn’t mean visuals have lost their significance. Users still judge a website based on the visual design. First impression is not likely to be formed through written content.

At the moment, template websites can’t perform complex features that professionally designed and developed ones can. The online website tools are not designed to build ‘fully cross browser, cross platform sites of any complexity, let alone with high fidelity to client approved designs’.

In the eyes of users, imagery and visuals remain vital in constructing the first impression. In the eyes of clients, their websites need to be the pure reflection of their brand identities and products, while simultaneously serving as the hub of data collection and integrate with 3rd party software. And web templates have little room for innovation and story-centered design that serves as the key differentiator.

Web design in evolution

Some people might have expected the death of printed ads when the first online ads rolled out. Well as we can see, that hasn’t happened yet. Some things do become obsolete. But others decide to evolve.

Focusing exclusively on one side of the argument won’t help web designers ‘as a community to evolve together’, says Friedman on the Smashing Magazine.

Instead, what the community needs to do is to accept the ongoing changes.

In fact, web design technologies are constantly in an ongoing process. There is a myriad of tools created and developed to serve specific purposes. Open source platforms are always evolving and adapting to quickly changing needs. Yes, design problems and challenges often arise in expected and unexpected situations. But designers are always devising solutions too (Read more here).

So here we go, the others say that it is not dead. Nevertheless, we can’t deny the changing nature of web design.

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specializing in web design, UX, e-commerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

Keep following us on Twitter @appnova and “like” us on Facebook for useful news and tasteful digressions about geeky stuff.

(Image via Luc Legay on Flickr)

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