Its been a while since I actually got to code a website from scratch without some sort of CMS or other hosted solution. Web design simply is nothing like it was when I started out almost 2 decades ago. A lot of the major engineering is gone and for that matter, so is a lot of the design/styling. We really don’t do as much grunt work as we do, know what works. So I was thinking about what a web designer in todays online world looks like.
Working nomadically is nothing new to web designers, but it’s never been easier than now to work remotely. As co-working/co-living spaces become more available, with high end internet access availability, there really isn’t much holding web designers back from enjoying travel/vacation and work, a term we like to call a workation.
No web designer should have the right to call themselves that if they cannot at the very least understand how to write html and style with css, but I have a sneaky suspicion there are plenty of folks out there who simply know how to use the customisation panel within WordPress or their hosted online solution.
There doesn’t seem to be any reason to have to code anything from scratch anymore, so the modern web designer really does have to know, rather than have to do. You could probably surpass more seasoned web developers by simply trying all the platforms out there and understanding their offerings than actually being able to develop anything.
Often we forget that despite being able to code, or not, there is the design, in web designer. There is very little need to design anything anymore, it’s more like a mix and match type of process. I don’t even see the point in doing a mockup design anymore, I think it’s easier to just jump straight in and add your logos, select fonts and colours and add your content.
Content is king
This old rule still stands true, even today, except it’s a whole lot easier to do now than at any other time before given how comfortable we all are taking photos of just about everything using little more than our phones and writing micro copy on the fly. Crafting words will always be an art thats hugely valuable, not even spelling is something we ned concern ourselves with, given the incredible tools available to us in editors.
I haven’t been paid to do much for years, most of how I keep the lights on has to do with design thinking. How I see things has become far more valuable than how I (physically) do things. Knowledge, experience and approach mean a whole lot more to people than how neat my style sheet is.
Users vs taste
While every designer should have good taste, I guess it’s what separates us, it’s far more important to understand our users needs than to impose a design style. I still believe I’m an artist, my tools have just changed, my choices show my style, but my methodology and approach are the real art for delivering an experience people will love.
You don’t have to be hugely innovative to be on the edge of web design, you simply have to know how to use the right offerings, but if you do want to innovate, then there are plenty of opportunities to join teams of designers building apps, templates and services that require that sort of thinking. But being a pioneer does not a web designer make, you can earn without being the inventor, rather you are more of a curator, so to speak.
The web is dead
If that was the case, then I see web people. Web designers are everywhere and I would think it’s one of the easiest things to get involved in, no matter what your experience. The learning curve is constant, you have to keep your skills sharp, whether it’s designing, coding or learning the latest online offerings. Being a web designer will always evolve, the web is not going anywhere. As long as there is a browser, web designers still exist and while I’m sure their is a decline in people accessing the internet by way of the browser due to apps, there is a growing internet access footprint as connectivity becomes more available.
In 2016, you don’t need to design or code to be a web designer, you just need to know how to solve problems for the web.