A somewhat recent article that circulated on Mashable made the (in our opinion) false claim for web design having no future. Their reasoning was readily available, well-designed mass market templates and near idiot proof template applications options that currently exist. Also a factor is content spread on different platforms via mobile apps or Facebook.
Should you subscribe to an extremely narrow definition of web design, like only “making it pretty,” then perhaps, it’s on it final legs… and good riddance to those “web designers.” Every website I must use that is crammed full of stock photos of people that are happy, smiley really pisses me off… and please don’t get me started on those “free template” driven websites out there, also.
Then there are the websites made to win awards beautiful, perhaps, but generally at the expense of those dirty little things like menus, navigation controls, or real world info. I have watched too many users struggle with such a website. In our humble opinion opinion, the internet was never thought to be “designed” in the very first place. HTML expressly removed reference to positioning, spacing, color and layout so the content might be shown in a device-agnostic manner. That was way before “high tech” devices as we understand them (cell phones, smart TVs, wifi games consoles, etc) existed.
Afterward came CSS, which made the print designers happy because they could push pages to look like paper. How about the huge argument about whether it was not too late to optimize for 1024×768 rather than 800×600? Driving users to see things the way you thought is a conceit that you just cannot manage. This really is the internet, not an art gallery. There is always another website individuals can turn to for their advice in case your high-artwork design confuses them too much. Always remember; a confused client is an unhappy client!
I would rather define design as doing thus purposefully, and developing a powerful interaction where both parties agree on the road to successful completion. If the client is “wishy-washy” then its up to the designer to make their idea, their clients idea too. People change slowly, however they do transform!
Now that we have been compelled to construct for multiple possible layouts and unknown display sizes, we’ll pay more heed to the initial goals of the internet. It is about information dissemination. Any design that helps in information dissemination is probably going to be successful. Any design that obfuscates it is going to die out.
Focusing on the technology that helps designers– images programs, scripting software, layout engines, API hooks –misses the point. Who among the web design community are utilizing the exact same tools now that you were five years back? Technologies and tools come and go… user needs and quest for the “latest/greatest” don’t!
No end user cares which content management system powers your upgrades or what platform you are building on. They just care about the interaction they have with your website, and whether that interaction seamlessly and instantly gives them the info they needed.
With that said, quit designing websites. Yes, QUIT designing websites! Begin designing interactions strengthening a communicative message. Should you reveal just a little humility, perform some research that demonstrates you understand the clients ends goal while contemplating the reasons individuals interact with websites the manner that they do. This will enable a website that helps the end user locate what they need quickly and easily… if that is truly accomplished, then you are designing an interaction instead of simply making (designing) something for the sake of “completing” a project. Your clients/users will thank you for it by giving you both short-term and long-term business.
One of our favorite sayings at dite.biz is, “The Only Constant is Change!”