When considering a re-design or a fresh website, it seems obvious to many people that they need a ‘designer’ (or a design agency) to take care of the project for them. But, over the last 5 years the rise of purpose-built themes and styles for websites means that customers are increasingly able to create a brand-new website without needing a traditional designer.

The ideal team

To understand the roles in a web project (especially larger projects such as the re-design of a large legacy site or an online store) we need to review where the customer’s money is best spent.

  • Project manager
  • UX (user experience) specialist
  • UI (user interface) specialist
  • Front end developer
  • Back end developer
  • Content management specialist
  • Data manager
  • Copy writer
  • Image specialists (illustrators, photographers, animators)
  • Quality Assurance specialist
  • Testing specialist
  • Optimisation specialist
  • Marketing specialist

No-where in this list is a traditional designer (or graphic designer). And there is a very good reason for that. Typically, a traditional graphic designer wants to create something unique to your brand, something that is really special. But, in the world of online user interface and user experience there is no place for unusual, unique or special. These terms all spell trouble when it comes to customer satisfaction. Unusual navigation is perhaps the worst offender, where users are unable to easily find the information they need within one or two interactions.

So, it is perhaps not surprising that in today’s world of online engineering, graphic designers play only a small part. Instead, your money is better spent on good project management, data management and user experience.

The best theme for the job

Many of today’s themes for WordPress, Drupal and Joomla offer mature and delightful frameworks on which to hang your brand style. The application of colour pallets, images and fonts alongside a clear content arrangement can still give you a unique look and feel – without breaking all the rules of good old-fashioned usability.  What’s more, these themes can provide some really cool features that you’d expect, such as interaction / animation effects, galleries and really cool third-party integrations.

Customers today expect all of these things with their new website – and they want to be able to easily edit, repeat and control them themselves.

Designer pitfalls

If a customer opts to use a fully custom-built theme based on a traditional designer’s experience, they can face a very tough uphill battle in their quest for flexibility and usability. Elements start to become hard-coded – or worse still, simply impossible to achieve.  Additionally, the time needed to develop a thoroughly sorted fully responsive and feature packed custom theme will inevitably lead to spiralling costs way beyond the budget expectations of the average customer.

Where a designer can really add value

Where a traditional designer can play a leading role is in branding and direction. A website needs to be the hub of all an organisations marketing and sales activity, so it needs to reflect the brand personae of the business. It must speak to the audience with confidence and it must match the customer’s expectations. Branding in this context is vitally important and cannot be overlooked.

Your designer can still retain control over the look and feel, styles and tone of voice – without getting their hands dirty in the engine room of interface design and coding.

So, in 2020 a role still exists. It is still important to retain your designer, perhaps as a leading member of the wider online team. It is important to remember that branding is still vital for your online business, so a designer can still retain control over the style and the look and feel of your site without being involved in coding and the finer back-end details.

If you have a legacy website, app or online store that is overdue a makeover, speak to the team at Jerram today. We can provide you with the dream team and the essential project management that you need to deliver a successful outcome.