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Is Web Design Dead? – Long Live UX!

In loving memory of the concept of Web Design….. 

It is a pity for us that we cannot assume the exact hour of death. It seemed like just another day when it left behind the ages of innocence to go through a more mature phase. And now, the time has come when we would be thinking about the concept of web design as a memory. By so saying, we bid you farewell to your existence in this digital era, and you will, for-ever, be in spirit. 

May the beautiful soul rest in Peace. 

No kidding! With web pages no longer being the center of virtual experience. In a distant future, it seems that a day will come when you might come across headlines stating, “Death of Web Design due to irrelevance.” However, there have never been more choices in the website design industry than now. But paradoxically, all those choices make choosing more challenging than ever. I mean, there are times when you might feel the temptation to over-promise to keep everyone happy.

However, there’s nothing worse for a client than expectations not being met. And that’s the reason why web designers these days have started calling themselves experience designers. Throughout my decade of working in digital, initially, as a designer, I can say that there are times when things can turn out to be extremely frustrating, especially when you are unable to give a proper implementation. And one single mistake can have long-lasting ramifications. So, is web design dead? 

With the time passing by, the original idea of web designing seems to have evolved in leaps and bounds. The web surrounds us; it includes everything from smart bubbles to glasses and other IoT devices. I guess the veterans, even the pioneers of the internet, would be surprised in which devices web design can be found nowadays. 

Let's Delve Into a Little History

web design

Back in the early days, the role of web designing asked for designing and coding pages for oneself, often done by hand and more often than not in the browser. Gone are the days when editing live wasn’t taken lightly; on the contrary, it was considered as an extreme sport. Along the way, things started getting more complicated, and roles started becoming precise, say, for example; designers and technologists are two different individuals. A rare split was witnessed between visual and UX, and finally, a few years down the line, UX itself categorized into two largely distinct roles. 

  • First role

This role demands the person to be tactical, a professional who is capable of creating wireframes that spell out the interaction design of a product or service. Their day to day work includes creating large documents featuring all the exact specifications; for example- how each aspect of the product or service, including minute details such as every button, selector, and menu item.  

  • Second one

The second one demands more cerebral space. This role is more suitable for someone who aspires to be an academic researcher. Their roles and responsibility include examining closely behavioral data, sociographic studies, and other research to determine how things ought to work. 

Each one of you has a distinct and defined role and served in a discrete step in a more important process. So, what changed? A common issue that seems to have grabbed attention was that designers supplied things to the developers that were ridiculous or impossible to build, given time and technology constraints. As a result, web developers started visualizing designers as reckless or clueless; designers saw developers as stuck-in-the-mud and resistant to pushing beyond the status quo. Does this mean web design is dead? I guess not! 

An unseen gap emerged in the market. And here UX comes to the rescue! Initially seen as a minor role has now become the overarching responsibility. Now, even the golden era is no more. The concept of web design no longer seems relevant and has no future.

Web Design Is Dead, Why?

UX
  • Reason #1 – Commoditization isn’t a useful concept

There is no denying in the fact that most of the content today found on the web is run by some framework or service; for example, WordPress, Blogger, and Drupal. Technically speaking, frameworks, in general, tend to provide you a foundation and shortcut so that professionals do not need to waste much time struggling with the creation of a web site and more time creating content. 

These frameworks have now seemed to given rise to a whole new world of free and paid templates that get you started with a professional-looking design in minutes. Like it or not, but people have started having second thoughts on hiring a web designer. In fact, they have realized the fact that with the advancement in technology, achieving a reasonably acceptable design is quite feasible within a fraction of the cost using a template. On the contrary, web designers themselves have declared the death of web design by using a pre-made template and make some minor branding customizations. 

  • Reason #2- Useless eye-candy 

Is there anything you can point finger on? I guess everything starting from responsive designs to old virtues of digital ages. It is a safe bet to say that the web has had all the useful user interface components and patterns. That’s the reason why innovating in the current web patterns isn’t a feasible decision. Again, is custom web design dead?

The good news is; such kind of maturity acts as a charm for the end-users. After all, who doesn’t wish to find consistency in their daily use of the web, especially in regards to checking out forms, shopping carts, and login pages? However, trying to become creative at this point can be pointless or even harmful, leading to the death of web design. 

  • Reason #3- Automation and artificial intelligence

Technology is all about finding creative ways to be lazy. There’s a new trend of automated web design services where basic website activities becomes a cake walk as all design making decisions become automated. It offers these below-mentioned services but isn’t limited to it: 

  1. Analyzing your content
  2. Able to detect the best layouts, colors, fonts, and extra imagery for your site
  3. Choosing design basics (made by humans) as the foundation

The best possible outcomes are guaranteed here! Now when you can automate something successfully, it means it doesn’t require much human input. All the practices and standards have been established in prior. And this is the beginning; web design is dead. Sooner or later, we are most likely to witness a fierce competition where services can deliver better designs in a faster manner. Also, without a shadow of a doubt all this will happen with less to no human intervention. 

facebook pages
  • Reason #4- Facebook pages

Time has come when we may encounter businesses buying their .com’s, purchase expensive hosting plans or even think of hiring a “webmaster” to have the Web Page. I mean after all, there is no other way which would make you as well as your products visible to the rest of the Internet. I can easily recall the time when being a Blogger or creating a site on WordPress.com was more enough for your startup. Also, it was quick and free 

With the establishment of Facebook pages, it feels that we have completely overridden the function. Some of the crucial benefits of using these pages are that they are free, made to be viral out of the box, offer powerful tools only available to big businesses a decade ago. Also, they are so efficient in making a business visible and are as easy to set up as your profile. 

  • Reason #5- Enters the Mobile 

Tell me something how many times do you prefer visiting a website via a mobile device? Do you prefer this by directly typing the address? Not creating a mobile app right now, can lead you to many losses. Understanding people these days have become next to impossible situation, so before giving a thumbs up or thumbs down they do not think of much in terms of the web. All they think of is think of digital brands, which mostly translate to apps or subscriptions. And that’s why most spaces- be it a website, blog, and portals are seen pushing their mobile apps to you — out of the mind, or else web design is dead. 

The mobile web has always been slow and cumbersome. Typing addresses have become little passé where navigating tabs is no longer in vogue. It may quite interest you to know that creating a smooth web experience with underpowered mobile devices and saturated data networks won’t be much of help. Technically speaking, it looks somewhat like the one we have on our desktop machines. 

No matter how vital, responsive design is, it simply offers a user to view your page in a mobile device. It’s high time, we get well-acquainted with the truth that we need fewer web pages, not more of them. You will come across a plethora of places competing for attention and assuming selfishly that their consumers have all the time in the world. This surely indicates the fact that web design is dead. Although, I am saying that there is nothing wrong in having close pop-up ads, make users dazzle by transitions, intros, and effects and explore navigational hierarchies. 

But have you ever wondered what really matters? Is it how you arrange things on a page? Of course, it is everything from the content to placement of images, etc in terms of a specific user need. That’s why Google is starting to display actual content in some search results, without you having to visit another page. Let me explain this to you by giving an example, imagine a situation where you are looking for a nearby restaurant from your mobile device. I am sure you must have encountered a button in the search result to call the place directly. It is as simple as that! Gone are the days when you required visiting the page. The page designer’s ego and the visits-counter may suffer a bit, but ultimately the user experience is improved.

Any Ray of Hope?

web designer

Fret not! The good news is that web designers aren’t completely obsolete yet. After taking the rosy future into account, I strongly feel that the implementation of AI is about to begin or maybe it already has, the software itself can start learning things such as: 

  1. Autonomously
  2. Improve its algorithms 
  3. Perfect frontend web coding

Develop new design principles and pattern libraries across the web, with no human input whatsoever. As a web designer, one must continue offering value by taking a bit detour. 

  • Content: Surviving in the world of self- designing sites isn’t easy at all. So, deliberate modular content will continue to be the deciding factor for a successful web presence. 
  • UX: One of the significant parts of an outstanding UX is the holistic integration of UX principles to achieve consistency across all platforms. 
  • Brand Identity: While machines might be able to make design decisions based on patterns and libraries, creating a brand identity will always include humans.
  • Emotional design: An essential part of UX and brand identity, sensitive design increases customer loyalty.
  • Web ethic: In the digital world that continually surrounds us, the difference between persuasion and manipulation is subtle, and these boundaries need to be clearly defined.

Conclusion

Technology is growing at its own pace; it’s high time we need to buckle up as well. Time to prove the adage “Web design is dead “wrong. With no risk or future obligation, web designers all have to adapt to new trends in the industry. 

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