Web Design: The State Of The Industry

Leave a reply

Web Design: The State Of The Industry

I suppose you could say that this is a bit of a pet topic at the moment, what with being a web designer and seeing a couple of people come to me because their original web designers have not given them the service that they wanted or deserved. It puts a strain on the industry and it devalues the work of some great designers and developers out there who really do know what they’re doing but are having to drop their prices to compete.

For some time, I’ve felt this largely comes from people in the creative industries who want to offer web design but don’t have the technical abilities to support the work they produce. They might put together a WordPress website with an integrated shopping cart but when a bit of javascript stops working they have no idea how to fix it. This isn’t just because of a lack of ability but rather that they rely on third-party themes, plugins and scripts in order to deliver the usability. If one of those things gets updated it could stop being compatible with the rest of the system and so problems are introduced. A proper web developer might still use those plugins but wouldn’t rely on them or would have fallback options if something went wrong. Those who really know their stuff might have written the plugins themselves or at least know how to debug the plugins used. Others will have written their own CMS systems or created a system from scratch to handle your website. Either way, the value that these developers bring to a project far outstrips the price you end up paying for the final project and yet, people still keep going to web designers who will buy a theme for $59 and sell it to you for £500. But, you can’t blame the customer for that. They don’t know the difference and rely on their web designers to educate them.

Ironically, the reverse is also true. If you know anything about branding, UX and graphic design you will understand how important colours, shapes and positions are when creating a website. How your user interacts with the elements of your site can really be the difference between you getting a sale and losing out to your competitors. Keeping your messages and copy on-brand is just as important, focusing on your clients needs and goals is as much of an art as any other part of the web design process. But developers don’t always know that. So many times, I’ve seen competent developers create fantastic systems only for the whole thing to be let down by the graphical elements on the page. I’ve seen brand messages lost, functionality sacrificed for the sake of brevity and poor copy littering pages that really do work very well but don’t do much beyond that.

Sat in the middle of all of these are people who have absolutely no idea about either graphics or web design who sell cheap sites to people that they’ve bought from someone else, logos that they’ve downloaded from the internet etc. They are allowed to exist because we allow the same from ourselves.

This sounds quite a bleak situation but it’s not really. People do get the websites that they want from some fantastic companies, whether they are one man bands or teams of people. It’s an odd industry to be in but one that I think we can start to address. As you can probably tell, this is really a post meant for other web devs/designers. A call to action, so to speak.

If you don’t have a background in a particular area, start working with someone who does. We have a ton of talent locally (and I’m sure nationally and globally) and it would be great to see more of it being used. If you’re a web developer, find a decent graphic designer to work on projects with. If you’re a good graphic designer, work with a web dev who can really bring your creations to life. I want this industry to be one where people can trust us but time and again that is being thwarted because there are plenty of us who will choose the path of least resistance and that opens the door to the unscrupulous ones. We should be caring about businesses, not just our clients but EVERY business out there. They are all part of our community, they are all potential clients. For too long now, web design has been seen as a product, a package. We are a service industry. Let’s provide a service. I know there are some great companies out there who are not falling into this trap. I salute them. To everyone else (and you all know who you are), we need to be better because local businesses deserve better.