Do We Still Need Web Designers In the Era of Squarespace & Shopify?
Here’s the reality: today, anyone can build a website themselves. Moreover, with DIY platforms like Shopify, most anyone can build a functional e-commerce website to boot. This, obviously, has not always been the case, and what one is now able to deploy for under a couple hundred bucks themselves would have required an expert and a budget of at least several thousand dollars only a decade ago.
Furthermore, most anyone can make something look nice these days as well. Between pre-styled templates, cheap talent by way of freelance gig sites (ie; 99 designs), as well as the availability of design software and pretty good available stock imagery, amateurs are able to produce decent looking results.
So if pretty much anyone can build a decent looking website, why would anyone dedicate a budget to hiring a designer?
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The truth is: the value of a professional designer (vs simply a decorator) isn’t in the deliverable, it’s in the process. In reality, only about a quarter of the time spent “designing” is actual production work. The remainder, and where the value lies, involves research, discussion, prototyping, analytical measurement, prioritization, experimentation, aligning team expectations, and strategizing. It’s knowing which questions to ask, because rarely (even if they think they do) – do clients know what they want as well as how to elicit feedback in a manner that facilitates progress. It’s the ability to present and “sell” an idea that may go against the client request but ultimately is in their best interest. It’s being able to offer context as a neutral third party who is able to view the work through fresh eyes, as a customer unfamiliar with the business or brand would.
The value of a designer comes when they ask questions and challenge ideas so that the eventual output provides more value than something otherwise created from a prescribed set of instructions.
When you hire a designer, you are not buying design, you are buying an outcome, such as:
– Increasing conversion rate by X amount
– Increasing average order value by X amount
– Increasing site engagement by X amount
– Increasing sales on mobile by X amount
This is very different from simply creating and deploying a “nice-looking result.” A good [professional] designer or team will work to not only set your business apart but ultimately benefit your bottom line through a results-oriented approach. They will help you clearly communicate a brand’s values while ultimately considering the needs of the end-user. A designer listens, observes, understands context as well as how a design will be integrated into the world.
So in conclusion, no – you don’t need a designer to make what you once had to pay for. However, to keep up with the demands and succeed in a world of modern e-commerce, it’s well worth the investment.