Sergio Nouvel, a designer in the Latin American sphere of technology, recently published an article for UX Magazine outlining why he thinks web design is dead. Among his reasons were the templatization of web design for inexperienced hopefuls and trends of branding toward social media and mobile app use.
However, it’s important for companies, marketers, designers, and users to understand that many of these new ways of consuming content are simply additions, and not replacements, to the proven power of a website and its design. Web designers have nothing to fear; user experience and web design can work hand in hand to create complete content experiences for users all over the world.
Let’s take a closer look at Sergio’s reasoning for the death of web design one by one:
Modular Website Building
Just like getting a mobile home and laying on a foundation at a wonderful discount, new business owners and amateur web designers can create entire websites from beautiful, responsive templates that have been laid out for them already. The cost is usually marginal and the time it takes to create a working website is nearly nonexistent compared to the work put into professional web design.
But creating a design in minutes based on a professional look is a sure way to make sure your brand blends in with the rest – extremely quickly. Templates are cheap for a reason: They save time and effort, but ask you to sacrifice usability and character in exchange. Templates restrict the designer’s ability to create a seamless user experience and optimize the page for use by real people as well as search engines. You’ll need a professional site designed by a professional web designer to make any impact on customers and rank in any search engine.
No More Web Design Innovations
Responsive design and parallax are poor examples of the lack of web design innovations. Responsive design was born out of necessity, and parallax is more of an experiment in possibility than a viable way to catch the user’s attention.
We’ve barely touched on the possibilities of the web. The masters of science still have to craft devices capable of harnessing blazing fast data transfer rates before we can realize the true potential of websites. Even if the code of mobile apps is more flexible than the age-old combo of HTML and CSS, we won’t be able to truly grasp the potential of that code until every website is an app and every app is a website. And even then, won’t web design and UX design really be the same thing?
Automation and AI Are Ahead of Web Design
Even if artificial intelligence like that of The Grid is able to create a semantic understanding of what you want out of your website, we still don’t have the technology to truly mimic the human brain.
Just look at the issues facing Google’s semantic search. Semantics is a concept far too advanced for us to simulate it properly any time soon. Who’s to say that an AI designed website is really perfected for use by actual customers? Web design requires more than just the skill to make a web page look pretty – you need to create a page that speaks to a real person, and real people are still the best at doing that.
Facebook Pages Will Replace Business Pages
It may be true that more users are relying on Facebook pages to connect with businesses – but more doesn’t mean a lot. The pages that Facebook has templated for businesses also aren’t as user-friendly as web pages – nor as easily navigable.
It would take a major shift in the structure of Facebook’s business pages to make them viable as a replacement for business websites. Businesses would need more options for customization to be able to brand correctly, and they will eventually want to be able to curate content in their own way. In the end, even Facebook pages would be just a locked down version of web pages, and web design would still need to step in to create memorable brands and products.
Mobile Makes Web Browsing Difficult
Actually, mobile really does make browsing pages difficult. But people use their smartphones and tablets for a lot of different things, and it’s not always to look at web pages.
Certainly, it may be less than ideal to use a mobile device to access a web page with the data you’re seeking, but there are few apps that are any better at delivering that information. The nature of touch screen navigation for modern mobile devices simply means that unless there’s some clever innovation that makes typing obsolete, mobile devices are in no position to replace computers, where websites (and web design) still rule.
Web Services and Push Content Are Rising
There really is a saturation of content on the Internet. The amount of data available to users is ludicrous, and the percentage of that data that is completely useless is even more unbelievable. But the good, useful information that makes web services and content consumption possible is still placed on web pages – and people prefer that those pages encourage them to read. That’s where web design steps in – no matter how well-integrated services become with other services, there will still need to be a home for all of the accessible information to belong, and that information needs to be beautiful and readable.
UX Design Will Take Over
Web design is alive, and so is UX design, and there’s no reason for them to be mutually exclusive. It’s rash to jump to conclusions that certain technologies are obsolete if they are still growing and show no signs of stopping.
No matter how savvy of a marketer or designer you may be, none of us are fortune tellers, and it’s unwise to discourage journeymen of a medium in its prime from mastering and evolving their craft. As for brands considering setting web design aside – do so at your own peril.