Is the web designer dead?

Let’s face it, it is now cheaper to create a website than to print a few business cards. Website builders are everywhere and they’re becoming really good. Hosting solutions integrate one-click CMS installation and marketplaces such as Themeforest or Woothemes make web design affordable for everyone.

“Great!”, some might say but others may be worry about this, especially us, the ones making a living of designing websites: web designers.

This is bad, really bad… Is it?

Are website builders killing web designers? The answer is No, but they are changing everything. Why would someone pay $3000 if he can get what he wants for only $100?

I can hear you scream from here.

“No way! A website like that will never be as good as my work!”

“People don’t understand all the research one have to do to build a good website with good content!”

“Wordpress sucks!”

“My code runs faster!”

Three words for you guys: They Don’t Care. And the ones who do care are too big fishes for most of us.

What does a small business want from you?

Let me take a small restaurant as an example. The owner contacts you because his neighbours knows the barber’s daughter. And you happened to know her too, because it’s your wife. More of your ex-wife actually but she stayed late yesterday at your place if you know what I mean so maybe there’s still a chance… Plus your son caught you two in the bedroom, let’s not confuse him.

Anyway, you now have a potential client known as “Chez Pierrot”’s chef. And this dude needs a super nice website for its restaurant with the usual stuff: menu, kitchen pictures, booking form and opening hours.

Problem: Chuck, the son of the barber’s best friend has made the website of his music band with Wordpress so he knows a bit about it. Not much but just what it needs.

One day, everyone meet at the barber’s and boom! The fresh hair cutted restaurant chef hear you’re not the only one making website and the kid only ask him $300, the price of the guitar of his dreams.

He calls you.

“Why do you ask for $3000 for a job a kid can do?”

“Well, that’s not the same, I code it from scratch, it runs faster, it’ll be easier to use, the government may pay half the price, …”

What do you think that guy cares about all that? Yeah, peanuts. Ok, perhaps the gov part, but still.

Should I kill myself?

Nope.

But what can I do?

Come on man, you got skills! You know how to code properly, you know the best practices, you already learned by yourself how to smooth that shitty font. There’s a lot you can do.

We’ll work less and less on small projects like “Chez Pierrot” website and more and more on large, open projects but that’s alright, that’s why the world needs specialised designers. Companies are looking for UX designers, content strategist, data analysts, ruby ninjas and angular cowboys. The web designer is definitely not dead, he’s just blooming.

To those of you who hate big companies and work better by themselves, this applies to you too. Just focus on what you’re good at, or aim to. Learn the language you feel the most confortable with and learn it well, put the rest aside. One of our best assets to us web designers is to know how to learn what we must know.

Now is the best moment to launch your own project too. Call your dev buddy, become the UX guy, let him learn Node and build the new Facebook together.

You are no God.

I know, I know. Knowing a bit of everything is still good for your job and some people still need web designers to create their website. What I’m saying is: less and less people still need web designers to create their website. So I won’t force you to drop everything to focus on one thing only but I do think the old saying “Diversify or die” is becoming very true to web design.


I’m a belgian UX designer and my first language is French so feel free to leave a comment where you find a mistake in English.