Web Designers, Quit Reinventing the Wheel – Today!

I say this for three very good reasons.

  1. Graphics are not that important.
  2. Original is risky.
  3. Overwhelming economic argument

1. Graphics Are Not That Important

I’ve been designing websites since 1994, and as time has gone by, I have spent less time on graphic design.

In the early days, it was common for me to spend a day on just one part of a web page design. That is unthinkable now.

There are a few reasons for this. Maybe I’ve got quicker, but mainly my decision-making abilities have improved. I take more responsibility now to ensure that I deliver the maximum value for the effort spent.

In the first half of my career, someone else paid my wages. In the second half, I owned my own agency. That really wakes you up to your productivity! When you are being paid a flat rate for a project, not a daily wage, you soon realise that the quicker you delight your client, the more profit you make, and the more projects you can deliver.

I also think the bar has risen consistently over the years. In 1995, all you had to do was make buttons with rollover effects, and people’s mouths would drop open with admiration. Today, we’ve all seen thousands of websites, so we’re used to being impressed by the bells and whistles. In fact, we’re probably over it.

We now want websites to deliver! If we’re using them, we want them to be fast and easy to use, and to feel familiar. If we own or buy websites, we want them to deliver results: sign-ups, sales, stats.

Frankly, sexy graphics don’t often sell. Sure, sites need to look appropriate. Today, it’s easier and quicker than ever to make a site that looks great and works great, and you don’t have to be a graphics whiz to do it.

If you have been in this sector for a while, you may remember a time when the latest big thing was to make websites client-editable. In essence, that meant creating a custom CMS for every site we made.

Most of those custom CMS systems didn’t have a fraction of the power of something like WordPress. How could they? WordPress has probably had decades of time invested in its creation and testing.

If you tried to sell a website with a custom CMS today to an educated client, they’d laugh you out of the building. And for good reason.

So why do we think it’s OK with the graphic design? Why don’t clients laugh at us when we spend two weeks in Photoshop in order to present hand-made mock-ups? They should, you know. And pretty soon, I think they will.