A few years ago, we talked about the death of the newspaper. Pessimists were predicting its demise in the United States as early as 2017. It seems that these predictions are materializing. Examples include La Presse that recently announced the cancelation of its weekly print edition in favor of further digital development. They are not alone.
Many other examples exist, including The New York Times that is also focusing more on technology and further web research and development. No doubt, times are changing.
They certainly are in web design as well.
According to a recent article by Sergio Nouvel recently published in UX Magazine, web design is, just like paper media, about to die. More specifically, the article points out five reasons that explain why web design and web designers are no longer needed. Three of these reasons struck a special cord with me.
According to Mr. Nouvel, most websites today are powered by a prebuilt framework like WordPress, Blogger, Drupal and others. These services allow anyone to develop a website with a professional look in minutes.
That is absolutely true. These tools will work for small companies that can’t allocate a budget for the creation of a website, for example, or, for my grandmother who wants to sell cakes online. The problem, however, occurs when our company needs specific functions to promote or sell our products to our customers that cannot be integrated into a pre-packaged web solution due to inherent limitations in their framework.
Take for example Walmart, Canadian Tire and Best Buy. Three companies specializing in value retailing and that cater to the same clientele. One might think that they require the same functions on their individual sites, but that is far from the case. Their marketing strategies differ, as do their digital strategies. They therefore need a site that can handle and optimize these different strategies. A template designed for everyone cannot do that. They can be customized, but at what price?
There is no more innovation in web design
Still according to the article, the latest significant innovation of web design would be responsive design, or the ability of a site to adapt its design to the various screens used today like mobile, tablets, and of course, desktop computers. In addition, responsive design is, according to the author, an old technology.
Wrong. A few months ago, Google implemented an algorithm designed to punish sites that are not suited to mobile. While most templates are responsive, quality is debatable. If the responsive layout is subpar, that could hurt the site even if it implemented.
Web technology moves very fast. Web designers, in collaboration with various other teams needed to develop a comprehensive website, are able to monitor technological developments and create websites that integrate them. A template, often created years ago, cannot.
In addition, some options such as parallax technology, can still be implemented in various forms. Past innovations can be reused by a creative design team to help your website maximize its functionality in order to increase its effectiveness.
Mobile killed the web
Finally, websites, according to Mr. Nouvel, are now superfluous as consumers can access everything through applications. According to the article in UX Magazine, people are now using a business’ app, and not its website, to gather information. No question that mobile is now the interface of choice for consumers, but it would be wrong to believe that consumers prefer applications to a website.
Reoccurring needs like banking can assuredly be covered using an app. That said, the number of apps we use on a daily basis to buy products are few and far between. Consumers do not want to lose memory on their phone to download an app just to buy a product once. They will turn to a company’s mobile site.
This summer for example, I was looking for a good place to go camping. I do not know if SEPAQ has a mobile app, I didn’t even check. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be camping every month, I simply visited the SEPAQ’s website to do my research. If I had downloaded the app, it would still be sitting there on my phone, unused and useless.
In conclusion, the arrival of new web solutions is good news for those who want a website but do not have thousands of dollars to spend. Prebuilt web solutions allow smaller companies to grow their online presence with minimal investment. That said, when our business is flourishing, we need a proper web image, extended features and a site that can position itself well in search engines. That’s when we need web design, and a customized web design solution.