Is Web Design Getting Lazy?

Posted on by Robert Seitzinger (rseitzinger)
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Remember how web design was circa 2001? Me neither. A decade is a lifetime, at least when it comes to technology, and the days of Drupal, Joomla, MODx, and similarly complicated web designing applications are well over. WordPress, Blogger, and assorted other What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors have replaced the need to learn code--even basic HTML--for an individual or business seeking to create and maintain a site.

Adobe Muse is a web editor that actually markets itself on the basis that no code is used. In other words, they're saying "use our product because it'll make your site pretty and you won't need to think!"--and that's a scary thought.

The difference between WYSIWYG and code is the difference between building with LEGOs and building with an Erector Set--sure, LEGOs make it easy, but it doesn't allow for fine-tuning or much difference between one project and the next. However, WordPress is a great example of an editor that blends code and WYSIWYG. Folks across many industries are using the platform to build and maintain their sites, from music composition to video game journalism.

WordPress users enjoy the customization of the platform and think Drupal is weak sauce.

Jeff "DJ Switch" Sorensen of Dangerous Kids, a podcast and blog dedicated to geek culture and video game news, says WordPress makes his life much easier than it would have been just five years ago.

"We considered Joomla and Drupal, since they had a lot of stuff available for customizing, but WP seemed the most accessible," Sorensen said. "It was easy to pick up quickly, and the more time I spend with WordPress, the more I appreciate that while it is very simple to learn and understand, it's very customizable in its own right--I'm finding less of an excuse to move away (from WordPress)."

Jim Welch of Welch Compositions says WordPress blends functionality and customization in a way that taps into his artistic depths while producing a site that is accessible, not overloading to visitors.

"My site needs to subconsciously tap into a person's emotions and learned correlations, so the person viewing my site believes the impressions they have are their own perception and I'm not placing it on them," Welch says. "When I think 'modern,' I think 'expensive' and of the art community. I never say anything about modernism, my artistry, or my cost, but I think those things are conveyed."

Blogger helps turn casual bloggers pro, while other designers aren't down with the WYSIWYG revolution.

Beyond WordPress, the recent merger of Blogger and Google has spelled success for developers seeking to make a name for themselves, even if web design is a hobby that comes second to their actual business. Crosby Connolly began The Journey Through Law School on Blogger and has tens of thousands of followers now, all interested in his take on new music and assorted updates on, well, his journey through law school in San Diego.

"Why Blogger? Because it was $10 per year and I was a newb at the time I purchased my account," Connolly says with a laugh. "Google has added in more templates for bloggers and also allows Google Analytics, which is crucial in breaking down and examining one's site...I'm very excited by it (the merger)."

Adam Brazie, web administrator for Rain City Records and a veteran of the technology industry, says he doesn't want to move over to WYSIWYG editors anytime soon, because using Adobe Dreamweaver still supports the degree of customization and functionality he requires for a job well done.

"I appreciate the digital platforms like WordPress, sure, but the methods I first learned a decade ago have evolved nicely so I go with what works," Brazie said. "When you get into SQL, PHP, or anything past HTML, WordPress loses some of its otherwise great functionality."

All things considered, is it safe to say that web design has evolved for the best? Or is creativity being curbed by the use of editors that don't require much tech savvy or training? Let us know what you think with a vote and a comment!

Which style of web design do you prefer?

2460 views & 14 votes

Debate It! 3

Even though they don't have the user/community base of WordPress, there are a several open source CMS solutions built on Microsoft's .NET framework. DotNetNuke, Orchard, and others should at least be considered for a mention. I find the object oriented, clean code attributes of these projects a real pleasure with which to work.

Posted By Chris Hansen,

Keep it Simple, because the visitors are human

Posted By andra,

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