Have you noticed how all web sites are starting to look the same? Is it a good thing? Do stock solutions always work?
Despite the commoditisation of web design, I believe there is still a role for the designer. Buying a template is not the end of the story - it's not how flashy it is, it's how you use it. The elements that you add to the template - imagery, branding, text and even the structure of the pages can be good or bad. Your customer's experience can be either premium - or economy.
Problems with modern web design
- Everything looks the same
- Marketing is more difficult and expensive
- Customers have no loyalty amidst massive choice
- Competition is hitting everyone from Amazon, China, India etc.
Because of the pressures of globalisation we need to go up a level of cleverness and innovation. Have ideas that give people a buzz and communicate then effectively.
- Imagery - particularly photography and illustration
- Textures and palettes
- Distinctive spacing and use of empty space
- Furniture - buttons, lines and boxes
Using these elements we can create a design language unique to your project, even in an off-the-shelf template.
Go up a gear
So, what's wrong with getting Dave from IT to put some text into a wordpress site? It does the job, it has enough information on it. It is ready to navigate?
The answer to that is that your company becomes what people think of it. If your website looks bad, poorly designed, cheaply done and with little care - then people will begin to think that way about your company and your products. Communicating those values of care, detail, thoroughness, intelligence, confidence is one way that design can make a difference. It's the difference between Asda own brand Cola and 'Coke'. One is flat and tasteless and the other is the real thing - and one can charge more than the other, just through clever design.
Be a winner
Our job is to control the whole story that people get from visiting your website site and experiencing your company online. It's about the experience they have and how we can manipulate their perceptions to make them believe in you, to make them believe that you have the product that they want to buy.
When advertising began it was enough to tell people about your product, just seeing a new product was enough to make people buy it. People fairly quickly became more demanding and advertisers had to start making people unhappy with their old product to sell them something new. Design is going through a similar paradigm shift now. There will be winners and losers - our job is to make sure that you are one of the winners.