More often than not, you would meet someone who is not as acquainted with the comings and goings of web design and tell you,”I can do the same thing you do, using Squarespace“.
To which you might respond with disgust or anger.
I mean, it’s not surprising. The advent of ready-made drag-and-drop website building platforms made creating websites so much easier, especially because there is little to no coding required. And as someone whose bread and butter is designing websites, you can’t help but feel sorry.
Personally, you wouldn’t want your job to be replaced with an easier way to do stuff, much like how horses were replaced by cars back in the day.
Frameworks and CMS are becoming more and more popular too. You have WordPress, Blogger, Drupa; you have Foundation, Bootstrap, and Skeleton; you also have Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly.
There is so much competition, and all of these services usually target casual clients offering them to just subscribe instead of looking for web designers.
The points I’ve built so far would certainly make you think, “OMG! these ready-made websites surely kill web design. The end is nigh!“
But what if it doesn’t? What if instead of killing web design, these ready-made websites are helping web design become more profitable? What if they are not cars replacing horses, but instead are the Ubers to our regular cabs?
Ready-made websites are friends, not foes
The point of these services, themes/templates, and frameworks is to make the task of creating websites easier. A beginner who is not attuned to how good websites are supposed to look like, may find it easy to use an online website-building service. And if that person finds it easy, what more could an experienced designer do?
Now, if you ask me, are ready-made websites killing the web design?
My answer would be a firm no.
Contrary to the popular belief, I think that ready-made websites are doing just the opposite, and the write-up that follows, I’m going to discuss just how.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel
There is no substitute for creativity and originality; however, originality doesn’t always mean you create stuff from scratch every time. I think an intelligent designer can produce an original web design even if he uses a pre-made website template by cleverly customizing it to his client’s needs.
Faster turnaround = More money
In the field of web designing, there come certain times when you suddenly catch the favor of the goddess of good fortune. You may get as many projects in a single day as you might get in months. And all of a sudden, time becomes a precious commodity as it translates directly into profits.
At this point, the biggest advantage you can get from a ready-made website is faster turnaround time. Instead of hiring a helping hand or rejecting a few projects just because you want to create everything on your own, you can use pre-made websites to your advantage to get projects done more quickly.
Won’t it effect the quality of work, you ask? Well, it may lead to some extent, but then again, if you’re an astute designer, you would twist and turn a boring template into a highly customized design.
A visualization aid for uninspired clients
Ready-made websites provide good overall value to your clients because of their intuitive nature. Let’s say that you have a client who wants a website made but is dumb as a dishwasher when it comes to visualization. You discuss and offer him some prototypes, and he still can’t visualize the idea inside your head.
So what’s a good way to make him see what you see? Use templates.
By using templates, you can show how the design will most likely end up looking like. This means that you are saving yourself and your client a lot of time going through different lines of communication just to hit that right spot.
Does that mean anybody can do your job now?
Truly ready-made websites are straightforward to use, and anyone who has a computer can use them, does not mean anyone can be a web designer now?
The answer would be no.
Yeah, the actual work of putting elements and customizing them can be done by anyone, but there are still things that have strings attached to them – things that a professional web designer can only handle.
Limitations of ready-made websites & “kiddie” designers
In this case, I’m borrowing the word “kiddie” from the hacker terminology “script kiddie” – a hacker who only uses scripts made by others to wreak havoc on the internet, so technically they are just unskilled individuals who don’t have the knowledge to actually make things work outside the boundaries of the tools they are using.
1. Color scheme can’t be learned in one day
In web design, it is utterly crucial to choose the right color scheme that would work for both user experience as well as aesthetics. It’s a skill that takes years of experience and a natural eye for colors that complement each other.
This also includes colors that are hot and trending, and how they are used to make websites look appealing.
2. Fonts are what make websites subtly stand out
In addition, not everyone is adept at choosing the correct typography and fonts. I mean, look at all those birthday invitations you received in Comic freaking Sans. Disaster!
One does not simply use Times New Romans or Comic Sans on websites. A seasoned web designer knows the psychology behind each family of fonts when to use serif or sans serif, how to make headings and subheadings pop, how to make each paragraph more distinct, and the like.
3. Only experts know that it’s not just about the surface
Web designers also work behind the scenes to make each website they design work properly from the development point-of-view.
There are some back-end optimizations to take into account such as meta tags and descriptions, how to make each website search engine and social media optimized, and overall responsiveness are things only a person with years of experience in the field can do.
To sum it up
In conclusion, ready-made websites aren’t killing web design; instead, they are helping web designers and developers by making their work easier, more profitable, and more valuable to their clients.
As a web designer, you should not fret because you can’t be overtaken by ready-made websites yet. Yes, some businesses prefer easy-to-use and cheaper alternatives but nothing beats the flexibility, reliability, and originality of a website built by real professionals.