Have WordPress themes killed web designers?

Friday, 18 January, 2008

Is web design dead? Are web designers on the verge of becoming obsolete, and facing extinction by way of a flood of pre-designed blog themes and templates?

Setting yourself up with a website, or blog, is far easier today than it was ten years ago, thanks to the wide range of free web publishing tools that are now available, such as WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, and Moveable Type, for example.

And with at least several thousand free-for-use themes or templates – that is, pre-designed interface layouts, to choose from – a would be blogger is spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on a look for their blog.

The results of a recent survey at ProBlogger, which asked the question “Who Designed Your Blog?” make for interesting reading.

Of the 1828 bloggers who responded, 22 per cent said they did their own design. A further 35 per cent of respondents “considerably tweaked” an existing template, while 32 per cent made use of a default theme that came with the blogging application they are using.

Only a mere seven per cent of people engaged the services of a web designer to create their website.

While not all of the ProBlogger survey respondents are professional bloggers, or using blogs for business purposes, the results nevertheless underline just how easy it is for many people to forgo the expense of hiring a professional web designer, and do it themselves.

One scenario possibly sees sole traders, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), only needing to engage the services of a graphic designer to create a brand or logo.

This can then be incorporated into as little as two website header and footer images, which in turn can be integrated into a suitably professional, pre-existing, theme or template.

While such a scenario may make a web designer cringe, and whether it is right or wrong, it appears to be a route more and more people will choose to take, especially since the freely available web publishing tools are becoming increasingly popular, and ever easier to use.

Of course web designers will not all go the way of the dodo, but as I see it demand for their services will become increasingly restricted to clients at the bigger end of town, and those who are absolutely insistent on specifically tailored web design solutions.

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  • Very true, John! This trend has been noted for a quite a while now… on the other hand it might be good, cos most of my clients now are demanding more features and work. So while general number of clients might be dwindling, the extra work per client makes up for it.

    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net at 12:06 am on Saturday, 19 January, 2008
  • I’ve seen a few discussions along these lines… there’s less demand for design work, but increased demand for extra features when work is required. As long as it keeps you busy it’s all good :) I thought the recent Problogger survey was interesting in that it reinforced, to a degree, the observed trend.

    John at 9:32 am on Saturday, 19 January, 2008