• How the Web’s Past can Point to Web Design’s Future – Web design video tutorials for beginners

    { Posted on Jun 07 2012 by seoman }
    Categories : news area

    Someone recently wrote to me where they were concerned about the future of web design as a profession. I’ve summarized the question as follows:

    Given the rampant spread of website templates and point-and-click site builder tools (that more and more web hosts are offering) can web designers realistically expect to continue to make a good living building web sites for small business using traditional (from scratch) web design methods?

    The answer to this question (and to find out clues on how to move forward) all we need to do is to look to web design’s past.

    But before we go on, there is also something else to consider:

    Web designers also have to deal with the reality that there are lots of kids out there willing to use pirated copies of Dreamweaver and Photoshop, to build a website for a fraction of what professionals have to charge.

    Since (I’m guessing) most web design professionals don’t live with their parents anymore, it’s hard for them to compete with teenage nerds who just need XBox money.

    How about the quality of the web design work – doesn’t that have an affect on who people will choose to build their website?

    … Unfortunately, sometimes quality (for short sighted business owners) doesn’t fit into the equation. That said, there is good news for professional web designers. Read on …

    A Little Personal History

    I built my first website back in 1994 just as the Web was starting to get noticed by the general public. Funny, back in those days Web-nerds were worried that someday the Web might become a commercial place – how evil!

    Since that time, I’ve watched how technology has had a huge impact on how people built websites and how technology set the stage, as far as what was considered a good website.

    … Not to say they always got it right – many times they got it really wrong. Flash intros anyone?

    The point to take away:

    Bleeding edge technology points to the future skills that will be required of web designers. At the same time, you can also guess as to what skills will become marginalized, if not made totally obsolete.

    Due to the dynamic nature of this business, it is safe to say that web designers will need to really pay attention to the trends if they want to stay in the game.

    Web Design’s Stages of Evolution

    From my perspective, I’ve seen the Web progress through four stages:

    1. Awful ugly

    2. Design aware

    3. Dynamic

    4. Standards aware and usability


    In the early days of the Web (1994-98) we mostly had nerds and not designers building websites. And believe me, it wasn’t hard to tell:

    The above screen-shot was typical of the web sites in those days. Actually, that was the cutting edge given that most of the Web consisted of text only pages.

    I have to admit, I even contributed in to the early ugly Web with this beauty:

    In those days, if you knew basic HTML, you were a web designer.


    Then sometime in the late nineties, graphic designers started looking at the Web and design consideration (aesthetics) started to have an impact. So the Web started to look good but things like usability, maintainability and marketability were non existent as far as most people were concerned.

    With the realization that websites should look good, you soon needed to have somedesignability to compete in the web design arena. Though, at that time, code quality was not an issue – these were the days of sliced images, font tags and nested tables. Heck, most web designers had very little understanding of HTML and CSS … if any at all!


    Some websites started becoming ‘web applications’ when CGI technology came about. First the stuff was written in C and soon PERL became the standard. In 1996, Microsoft came out with ASP and at the same time, other competing dynamic web page technologies like PHP and ColdFusion started to appear.

    With the ‘dynamic Web’, the bar was raised yet again for web professionals. The elite web developer could create database driven websites but still, pure designers had plenty of work and were considered a different type of web professional.


    In 2000 the Web Standards movement began to take shape and within a few years, clean code and usability became important qualities in web design.

    Now for the first time, web design became a mature discipline (as far as I am concerned) because you had to have a deep knowledge of the Web, code and other macro issues related to a Web site:

    Just being able to use Photoshop and a wysiwyg (Dreamweaver, Frontpage etc …) did not make you a competent web designer as it did in the past.


    Web 2.0 implies things like:

    I am not going to get into the details of all these things … I’ve covered them elsewhere and many of you probably know all about them.

    The Web 2.0 phase/stage of the Web points to where web design as a profession is going. It tells you what you need to learn if you want to be a modern web designer.

    In a nutshell:

    You need to know more that HTML and CSS code; you need to learn the code that makes web sites dynamic, you need to learn the skills that allows you to build and work with Web 2.0 technologies.

    That means you need to learn something like PHP, ASP or Ruby.


    Modern websites need to go Web 2.0 if they want to compete. Many businesses should have a blog and many sites should promote using RSS and social networking tools. Websites should be made more usable with AJAX …

    You as a web designer, will need to be able to offer these options to your clients. Otherwise, someone else will.

    The good thing about this, is that the punk teenage kid who has a cracked copy of Dreamweaver, will have a much harder time getting the web design jobs.

    … The skills required today to build an effective website, are far more complex than they used to be.

    Stefan Mischook


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