Cameron Chapman caused a bit of an uproar last fall with her Smashing Magazine article Does The Future Of The Internet Have Room For Web Designers? Her general position was that the current crop of mobile devices and their accompanying applications are robust enough to the point that they may eventually replace the need for desktop and laptop computers. Add that to the fact that it’s much easier to purchase pre-built website templates, and it appears as if web designers are going the way of the dodo bird and headed for extinction.
In all fairness, her point was well argued. It’s also important to note that Chapman was questioning the need for web designers, not the need for design in the digital space.
In case there are issues in the future, here are 5 survival tips:
1. Remember that “design” is not going anywhere
Clients will always want their brand and products represented in a graphically appealing way that stands apart from their competitors. There will always be a need for design.
2. Remember that technology changes rapidly, and that’s in your favor
Mobile device development did not stop with the iPhone or the Android or the Blackberry Curve. Along came the iPad, which allowed for more design space and gave us the digital magazine format. Creating Wired Magazine’s beautiful iPad app required some programming skills, but a significant amount of work was first done in Adobe InDesign.
The point is, technology doesn’t stay stagnant and will always provide new design opportunities.
3. Learn some web development
Web design may or may not disappear but web development is staying right where it is. Chapman ends her article stating that, while the backend for mobile programming and templates will be “pretty standardized, the manner in which [they are] displayed will become a battleground of creativity.” This is a win-win situation for developers.
4. Strive to become a “jack of all trades,” not a “master of one” in the digital space
If you know how to use WordPress, you can learn the basics of Microsoft SharePoint in about a week. If you prefer ActionScript 2.0 to the more difficult ActionScript 3.0, you’re ready to use HTML5’s Canvas function. You’d be amazed at other areas of web development to which you can apply your current skillet. DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT!!!!!
5. Search the job boards to see what skillsets are in demand
Regardless of theories by bloggers and pundits (me included), it’s potential employers that will decide whether or not web designers are needed. Regularly review the job sites to see what skillsets they’re looking for. Also, go on a few interviews, even if you already have a job. You’ll get a great feel for the current marketplace.
Do you think that Chapman is right? If so, are you doing any extra work to keep yourself relevant? Let me know!