I attended the Future of Web Design annual conference in London a few months ago.
It was an incredible experience. I had always wanted to go to one of these designer conferences and felt blessed with the opportunity to attend.
There was a lot spoken about technology. SASS, Grunt and other automation systems. Great for my developers, however I was looking for something different.
There were a lot of rants. Rants about how we create shitty experiences. Rants about how designers need to code. (Fair point. I don’t hire designers who can’t hand code HTML/CSS). Rant on poor payment experiences. Rants on bad UI. All fair play but not what I was looking for.
In conclusion, I could say every ‘design’ talk went like this “I had a bad experience at x place or with x product. So make nice user experiences online” or “Look how shitty this interface is.” Don’t do this shit.
Now don’t get me wrong I am a UX designer myself. I take pride in basing my design decisions on data. On heat maps, user testing and customer feedback. But I really wanted to up my design skills.
I sometimes go online, browse other websites and think how did the designer create this? How did he think of this color palette. Font pairing. Visual Hierarchy. Design Processes, did I miss something?
There wasn’t one talk on Design as an art onto itself. There wasn’t one talk on “how I designed this gorgeous site.”
All talks were either on UX or Code.
But maybe this is the road we are going down. The road of no design. That maybe agencies will spit out pattern libraries along with logos and style guides. That will be sent onto developers who will in turn spit them onto a generic yet proven Bootstrap layout/SASS framework. Why would you even need a *web* designer?
I read with interest Eli Schiff’s articles on The Fall of the Designer. This one stood out to me the most, especially after FOWD. It’s deeply concerning the more we move over to pattern libraries and pre-packaged frameworks, the less we need a designer.
The more designers need to move onto UX and Data or become hybrid developers, the more we lose focus or even value on visual design as an art onto itself.
We all know web design is no longer the wild west it once was. We know which layouts work and which don’t. We know of the Z and F layouts. Eye tracking movements and how to use color and contrast to guide a user into a certain direction. This is why, if you may have noticed, most websites are starting to look same. Not for better or worse, it’s because that’s what works.
At the end of the day visual design on the web is not what it was and it’s not going back. This is the future of web design. Actually, perhaps, this may be the end.