Since I’m a novice when it comes to coding, I would not be creating a business in the web design industry if not for the changes that have taken place over the last 10 years to make web design more accessible to everyone, including non-coders.
Web Design Becomes Visual
First, there was the development of visual editors like FrontPage and Dreamweaver that made it easier for designers to create websites without tinkering with HTML code all day long.
Let’s be honest though. These visual editors did not completely eliminate the need for HTML. You still need to know HTML basics to use these software packages with any ease, or at the very least, to keep yourself from wanting to throw your computer out the window! This forum post on CNET.com illustrates the landscape of Web Design about 10 years ago.
Web Design Becomes a “Drag”
For the last several years, the explosive growth of do-it-yourself website builders like IM Creator, Weebly, and Squarespace have pushed the industry forward into a more intuitive and beginner-friendly design environment.
These website builders did for web design what the classic Mac OS did for personal computing. Instead of knowing the correct command or code to type, you can physically drag things where you want them to go and choose from lists of commands in menus.
Website builders give a similar type of intuitive interface. If you want an element placed somewhere on your website, you just drag it there. It’s so simple that web design in many cases has become a DIY project and not necessarily outsourced as a contract to a professional web designer.
While these website builder companies are focusing on the ever-expanding DIY market, many up and coming website designers are overlooking these simplified platforms as legitimate options for growing a web design business.
I understand why web designers shy away from website builders, but I think both beginner website designers and seasoned designers should take a close look at website builders as legitimate vehicles to grow their business faster and more efficiently.
Here are three reasons I believe many web designers overlook website builders and why they may need to reconsider.
- No Access to Code:
The very thing that makes website builders easy to use might scare the traditional web designer.
Website builders generally don’t give much access to the source code of the website. Some do – Some don’t.
If you don’t know HTML and CSS, then this limitation is actually an advantage for you. But if you’re a coder that likes to tinker, than you may want to find a website builder that gives access to the source code. Many of them do although the access is often limited.
- Poor Designs
Pre-designed templates have made the web a boring and sometimes ugly place over the last several years.
In order to make designs usable for everyone, they had to be simplified and “dumbed down.” The unintended result was that these templates became easily recognized as millions of small businesses created sites using these cookie-cutter designs.
To a graphic designer, the use of templates is sacrilegious, but to some small business owners, it is all they could afford. Design is another aspect of website builders that has progressed tremendously in recent years. You can now use an affordable pre-designed theme and end up with a website that looks like a totally custom design that costs thousands. When in reality, it didn’t cost anything but your time to setup.And moving beyond the theme choice into actual website creation, the flexibility and intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces of website builders like IM Creator, give a “blank canvas” feel where the design is only limited by imagination.Bottom line – design quality and flexibility is no longer a factor that should keep web designers from choosing a website builder as the platform of choice to build their business.
- No More Fun “Left Brain” Stuff
I totally get this one. There is an exciting aspect to snapping together the different pieces of the puzzle to complete a website and make it come alive online. It’s fun!Website designers and programmers, although unique, are all GEEKS and many of us love to heat up the left side of our brain to perform all the technical steps involved in web design.Because a website builder eliminates so many steps and simplifies the process, some web designers may feel like the fun is being robbed. No more tinkering with different hosting accounts and uploading files, no more slicing up custom website designs and integrating into HTML, no more getting stuck with one kink in the process that adds hours to your total project time. I doubt anyone enjoys that last one.The streamlining of the process will lead to faster completion of projects, more clients, and increased revenue. What’s more fun that that? You’ll have plenty of extra time to exercise your left brain on other tasks.
Web designers – have you tried popular website builder platforms? What are the reasons you’ve overlooked them in the past as a solution to build your business?
Comment below and let’s discuss.
Image Credits: Original 1984 Macintosh desktop -Wikipedia.org < coders = “it’s for you” /> – Flickr.com – by Syed Tauseen Tariq Ali