Is the Web Design Industry Dead?

Do Customers Need Web Designers Any More?

Photo Editors Discussing Over Digital Tablet in Creative Office

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Every few years you will see some articles pop up that asks the question, "Is the Web Design Industry Dead?"

Case in point, we previously published an article and asked the question What Are Some Great Ways to Find New Web Design Clients? One person responded that the web industry was dead because someone could buy a template website for cheap. These types of sites and solutions have always existed. There are even platforms today that people can use to build free websites. 

What do you think? Is web design a dead industry? Is it pointless to get started as a designer because all your clients can grab a free or paid template from one of the many sites out there? This article will look at the web design industry and what might be ahead for designers.

Web Design Isn’t Dead

It’s very accurate that people that would hire a web designer to build their website for them can now turn to a low or no-cost solution instead. In the short run, this is a cost-effective solution for many companies. If they can get a template that works for their site for $60, that would be a lot less money than even a simple website that a professional web designer would create for them.

But that doesn’t mean that web designer should give up on being a web designer. On the contrary, template sites can help increase and improve a web design business. There are many things a web designer can do, even with a client who wants to use a template for their site.

Design and Sell Templates

Here's an obvious solution to losing clients to template companies. If a web designer designs and sells beautiful, practical and popular templates, they'll make money and won't have to worry as much about client demands. They'll have the freedom to build templates that they like.

Modify Templates

Another place where a web designer can get a lot of work is from modifying templates to fit clients better. In most cases, templates are beautiful, but they don’t fit every need a client might have. When a web designer starts with a pre-built template, they might not have as much design license but can focus on problem-solving.

Convert Templates to CMS

While there are many templates out there for various content management tools, there are also a lot of templates that are not built for specific CMS or blogging systems. When a client finds an HTML template that they want to use in WordPress or a Drupal template they want to use in Joomla! a web designer can help them convert the templates to their system.

Add Other Features

Most design templates are just that—design. A web designer can get jobs adding e-commerce, social media, videos, and other features that aren’t usually included in original templates.

Redesign Templates

You would be amazed at how many people fall in love with a template and say “I just love this template, all it needs is…” And of course what they are usually asking for is a total overhaul of the template, not just changing color from blue to red.

Put up the Template

A client might ask you to put their existing site into a template they've bought and paid for too. While this isn’t precisely design work, it still can help pay the bills.

Maintain Websites

Once the site is live, many clients need someone on call to fix problems, add new content, or keep the site up-to-date. Maintenance is another less “designy” chore, but it pays the bills too.

Train People to Build and Use Websites

It's important to make sure that clients know as much as they need to and want to know about how to manage and update their website. Teaching people how to manage their website helps them better understand what they do and don’t want to do so that it's easier to get more work from them later.

Do Redesigns After the Template Ages Out

The last type of work that a web designer can do involves redesigning a website that has used a template in the past. Many business owners use the template because they think it will be cheaper, but then have to spend a lot of time and money paying for tweaks and customizations. So when the time comes for a redesign, they decide to hire someone to get it done right the first time.

Remember That Freelancing Is Hard

Working as a freelancer of any sort is difficult because you have to compete with all kinds of people and tools and techniques. Freelance writers compete with people all around the world looking for writing jobs. Freelance artists compete with other artists. And freelance web designers have competition from designers and templates.

Don’t assume that because templates are popular that you’ll never get a job as a web designer. Just be aware that you need to figure out how to either out-compete the templates or use them in your business.