Websites and designers are in higher and higher demand every day, and yet many freelance designers are having trouble finding work. The problem they may be facing is that they’re rooted in the old ways of thinking about the craft of web design, and as a result, they’re failing to adapt to a shifting marketplace for their talents. The same is true of companies whose websites now look dated and operate poorly, even though they were designed within the last few years. Here are some changes happening in web design, and steps you can take as a designer or a website owner to keep up.
Mobile Makes Money
Increasingly, people are opting to browse the web on phones or tablets rather than desktop or laptop computers, with some going so far as to ditch their non-mobile machines entirely. What this means is that savvy web designers need to operate under the assumption that their users will be accessing their site from a mobile device. Responsive web design means having a site that changes depending on the users’ method of accessing it. If you’re a designer who’s stubbornly sticking to desktop design, you’ll have trouble finding work, and if you’re a site owner who’s assuming people are only going to visit from a laptop, you’ll miss out on a ton of traffic.
Make sure your website is Mobile Friendly here, by visiting Google’s test.
It should look like this:
Specialists Are Scoring
While once a well-educated web designer could create an entire site top to bottom, the increasing complexity of software and sites has made it difficult for any single person to build and maintain an entire site, particularly one with a lot of user input. What this means is that designers are increasingly delving into specialized fields, selling themselves as experts on graphics, interface, or SEO. If you want to compete, you ought to consider evaluating your strengths, picking one that you know you can succeed at, and accepting that you may never build an entire website yourself again.
Collaboration Is Non-Negotiable
Both designers and site owners ought to keep abreast of this development. Whereas once a company might be content to hand the reigns of their site over to a designer, the increased spread of knowledge about UX and other aspects of design have meant that many companies want to be involved in every step of the process. As a designer, this means you need to be prepared to take input from your client and communicate with them during every step of the process. As a site owner, it means you should take an interest in what your designer or design team is doing so that your site bears the imprint of your brand, rather than the fingerprints of the designer alone.
Social Media Is Essential
Designers from the earlier era of the web often look down on social media as being the realm of the tech-uneducated, people who can’t pronounce “gif” and barely understand coding. While that may be true, it’s no longer acceptable to ignore social media. Designers who fail to incorporate links to social sites or engagement opportunities on their sites will quickly be out of a job, and site owners would be well-advised to design their sites with click-throughs from social media in mind.
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