Monday, 31 October 2016

The halloween horror of the web industry

I was talking to my wife the other day about work. She is in the same industry as me, although she’s more a graphic designer, whereas I’m more of a programmer/nerd. She’s also inherently happy, whereas I’m a natural grumpy git.

Anyway, the point is we were both talking about how hard our industry is at the moment. She’s recently had to take a small pay cut as well as reduce her hours to help cashflow . Although things aren’t that bad for me, there has definitely been a noticeable drop in sales over the last few years. This is partly due to the recession, partly to do with it being such a saturated industry but mostly it’s to do with the way the internet has gone thanks to social media and also companies like Wordpress, Wix and other “web in a box” companies offering nice looking and fairly functional websites for next to nothing. I’m sure there are people out there who will blame climate change and Brexit as well but those people probably aren’t worth talking to.

My wife made a fairly valid point that, although things are looking a bit unsettling now, these cheap template sites are probably just a fad. Sure they look quite nice now but they all look the same. You look at most modern websites built or re-designed in the last two or three years and they all follow the same template: A big banner across the top (usually with rotating images), three featured boxes underneath and a bit of text. This is a layout that works well on all devices.

The thing is that in a few years, people will probably get bored with having a website that looks identical to every other site. Also, website visitors might start looking at sites and thinking “you know what, these people obviously haven’t spent much time on their website because they’ve just used a template like everyone else, so what does that say about their attention to detail and general interest to do work?”

In a few years time, it may very well be that people start ditching Wix and Wordpress and all these other annoying companies that are trying to put hard-working web developers out of business. It may well be that they will start wanting unique looking websites. It may be that tastes will change again and people will stop thinking that websites with a big banner image and three boxes look nice.

Of course there is the argument that, if people are used to having nice looking and fairly functional websites almost instantly and for next to nothing, why would they want to go back to paying someone lots of money to develop something different?

At the end of the day, the future of the web developer is uncertain. People are always going to need programmers and they are always going to need designers but is the world going to need as many and will it still be a lucrative industry to be in? Will I be sat here in five years time doing this job and asking people if they’d like a new website, or will I be stood behind a counter asking people if they’d like fries with that?