|Will you still be designing five years from now?|
the future of web design jobs & opportunities
It's hard to believe that it's been two years since my original thread [webmasterworld.com] on the future of web design jobs, I think it's important that we re-explore this topic and what has actually changed since then.
In my first thread on this subject, I stated that the market is becoming saturated with new freelance designers, telephone companies were offering sites as part of package deals, and templated sites with content management systems were available for small monthly fees.
Today, my concern is still that large U.S. communication companies will outsource all design, programming, SEO and database work overseas while retaining small sales offices stateside to collect information and coordinate project development. I think that their low quotes will force other design firms to to lower their rates just to compete. So maybe not in three more years, but I doubt my business will last another seven, I've begun planning my exit strategy.
Its one of the reasons why I start to learn Project Management in the field of I.T :)
|becoming saturated with new freelance designers |
Designers yes, good designers no. Full service Internet marketing consultants that bring a lot more to the table than simple coding and design work, definite no.
To the sharp marketer that works with small and medium sized businesses and brings far more to the table than simple design and coding, but also copywriting, SEO, marketing, etc. will always have a business and clients.
You must always be adding new skills, experiences and other tools to your tool bag. Constant adaption separates the employed from the unemployed in the 21st Century global economy.
To quote Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street...
"In my book you either do it right or you get eliminated"
|Designers yes, good designers no. Full service Internet marketing consultants that bring a lot more to the table than simple coding and design work, definite no. |
My concern is that some prospective clients aren't able to distinguish between an overnight freelance designer with no internet marketing experience, and an exerperienced one. I think we've all seen sites for designers which claim SEO know-how, but their own company site is poorly optimized. Some big businesses may really do their homework and request proposals from multiple firms, but some small business owners may jump at the first designer that seems like they're qualified.
If there's any benefit to that situation, its getting a potential redesign client after a year passes and they don't see any results. But some of those people will feel burned and won't want to invest even more money in something that they have become discouraged about.
I doubt it, im doing less and less as time goes on, I now tend to hire people to do the work but this to is rather rare now.
Business do seem to be getting fed up with web designers.
Will I be designing in 5 years? Yes, but not in the same way as today.
There is still a big market for e-commerce solutions and an emerging market for social network and gadget integration you just have to keep on top of web 2.0 and ideally get some young people on your team :)
|some prospective clients aren't able to distinguish between an overnight freelance designer with no internet marketing experience, and an exerperienced one. |
I believe it is up to us as marketers and sales professionals to show them the difference and clearly explain the advantages of working with people like us rather than some fly by night operator. I have a close ratio near 80% on my proposals. Now to be fair I don't give as many proposals as other designers, but the ones I do give are for more money and more services and close at a higher rate which makes me more profitable with less effort.
Regarding the others that think that web development won't be here in 5 years. I agree it will and must change, hence my comments above about staying on your game, but will it be gone entirely? I doubt it.
Saying Internet marketing is going away in five years is like saying advertising is going away in five years, won't happen. What may happen is that the people out there that only bring basic design, coding, etc. skills and don't know SEO, marketing, copywriting, email marketing, etc. will be looking for a new job. Again I believe those that offer these types of skills and are entrepreneurial in their thinking as well as willing to re-invent themselves multiple times will always have income. Notice I didn't say job.
I'm relatively new to the whole scene (freshman in college, but with about 2.5 years contracting experience), but I think it's safe to say that web developers/designers are not going away any time soon.
It will definitely change--I invite you to name one technology-based job that hasn't changed in the past 5 years--but I think people will realize quickly that they can either pay someone a higher price to do code right, and in a manner that can be easily updated, or they can pay someone from India to write obscure code that can't be changed without rewriting half of it and probably still has many errors in it.
Yes, I know this is somewhat stereotypical, and I apologize, but there is much truth to this--so long as there are people who want a job done right, there will be a market for web developers and designers at good prices.
|but I think people will realize quickly that they can either pay someone a higher price to do code right, and in a manner that can be easily updated, or they can pay someone from India to write obscure code that can't be changed without rewriting half of it and probably still has many errors in it. |
I think that's a pretty bad generalization. I don't put much faith in outsourced SEO, but I think you'd be surprised at how many WW members probably outsource programming work to India or other countries in Asia.
|so long as there are people who want a job done right, there will be a market for web developers and designers at good prices. |
I'll disagree, and here's why: many small business owners aren't going to do as much research into prospective designers as government entities or Fortune 500 companies. If a flower shop owner with little to no knowledge about websites, cms and SEO starts looking up design firms in the phone book, they might be sold on the first one they talk to that's all sizzle and no steak. Technically everyone wants the job done right, the problem is that some business owners won't be able to easily distinguish between those who will do a great job and those who wont. And maybe a big company that completely outsources and underquotes most design firms will actually do a good job. The point is that even if I'm doing a great job five years from now, I'll get less projects because of the number of new designers fresh out of community college aggressively offering rock bottom priced websites.
It's easy to ask a friend or associate to recommend a dentist or auto mechanic, because odds are they have some sort of experience with either. People won't be as likely to do their research when it comes to designers, and if they're not up on what makes for quality design, they'll jump on the first good sales pitch or lowest quote they hear.
|Technically everyone wants the job done right, the problem is that some business owners won't be able to easily distinguish between those who will do a great job and those who wont. |
I think something all of us have to remember is no business buys "a web site" one that works right or not. They buy higher sales, more profits, lower costs, etc. They don't buy web sites.
I think the crux of the issue is if you go out as a simple coder and designer and sell "web sites" you probably won't have a job in 5 years, actually you lucky if you still have a job today if this is your only tool. However if you go out and sell "higher sales and more profits" and just happen to use the Internet to do it you will have a job.
My point is the people that have a business in 5 years are the ones that have learned a larger range of skills, especially marketing skills. I do a lot of copywriting, SEO, email marketing, and other things. Others do my actual programming. Coding can be turned into a commodity, but creative marketing so far is still a pay day skill. Maybe that will change someday as well.
In 5 years?
Most of what's being discussed here will surely be around in 5 years. And it's true with any business under the sun, in that, if you don't grow, adjust or remain flexible, you won't last.
As far as general overall web devlopment?
I've seen an increase in people running from open source sites, scripting, and wysiwyg programs.
I've been seeing a certain dissolution with regard to online site builders, which are slow, heavily scripted and about as easy to digest as a brick.
If anything, just from where I'm sitting, the web-dev world is going to come more into it's own. We are handling more requests for custom scripting/coding than ever before.
It used to be "let's purchase some hosting, so we can use that free OS Commerce Solution"... Now, not one of our clients cares to use it. It's all just somehow ended up beneath them to even be associated with it.
There is still a very good interest in CMS, but "only" if it can be customized to precise specification.
As far as online site builders? Sure, Our Windows Servers have it... and, surprise, surprise, we can't give it away.
No, we've got a pretty long road ahead of us before the design/development world ever takes a hit.
Being diverse is key though.
If you've got a few good coders and a few designers that can see past the colour blue, then you're in on that end. Add these to good SEO and professional marketing, then you'll last a whole lot longer than 5 years.
We include all of those, and even all of the linux/windows hosting, search development technologies, script development, and even find ourselves wandering down the wicked road of domain registrations.
Diversity is where it's at I think. At least, that's where it's at for us anyway.
When we throw our proposals together, there are those that show some surprise that search/marketing technologies are not only included, but are precisely laid out.
You cover every base in this day and age of the internet. You leave nothing to chance.
If you're going to do this *Design/development deal, you've got to understand many of the other core aspects of the internet, and understanding them and how they relate to the real world (money) is an added plus. Gone are the days when slapping a few pages up with a little script tither and yon was enough (I don't think it ever was enough, but that's just me).
The outsourcing trend will not last beyond 5-10 years. The economics of it will not hold up for long when wage inflation in outsourcing economies is running at 10-15%.
|The outsourcing trend will not last beyond 5-10 years. The economics of it will not hold up for long when wage inflation in outsourcing economies is running at 10-15%. |
I have trouble buying that. I'd be amazed if there aren't still Indian design firms charging at least half of what the industry standard is in the U.S. ten years from now.
Even if the trend changes in places like India, you're still going to have countries where designers will still offer their services for significantly less than the U.S. and England.
|Even if the trend changes in places like India, you're still going to have countries where designers will still offer their services for significantly less than the U.S. and England. |
Not many places other than India have the advantage of a very high number of English speakers.