These days, most serious web sites are based around a platform generally called "CMS", or content management system. Thanks to this, it becomes easy to publish, unpublish and manage contents. Furthermore, each CMS has a template layer and tons of extensions. That means your web site can be expanded with new features in a matter of minutes. So easy, all is great. Do we still need a designer, then?
While I often hear people claiming the computer does everything, the answer to the above question is yes. Let's see some general situations deduced from my own experience.
Installing → While a CMS may appear as easy to use, some technical skills are required to set it up for the first time.
Initial set up → You're given a template and a few extensions. Once installed, extensions may show issues with your template or may even not work at all with your host.
Running and using → You want to achieve a specific layout and make further small tweaks to the template and to the extensions. Last but not least, while there are intuitive editors available, these tend to generate bad XHTML code.
Here comes the web designer or the web developer: a professional figure with a solid background in graphic design, information architecture and interaction design. Because each web design project is going to need some expert hands. A while ago, a colleague of the Laboratory of Visual Culture told me the CMS must not decide what I cannot do or how I should design the contents. She was right: the designer has the necessary training to see where changes are necessary and to decide for the best layout for each page.
For example, let's take the Master of Advanced Studies in Interaction Design project: when not plain descriptive texts, for most pages I went for a custom layout by writing my own XHTML and CSS. I used inline DIVs for the portfolio page, two columns for the Teachers page and a special solution for the Courses section. In many cases, I've had to decide whether to use a sidebar or not and what to insert into it. That means I did not stop at what the CMS allowed me to do (copy and paste a text).
So, in my own personal opinion, a designer is still needed today. Now more than ever, because the CMS has brought complexity along with simplicity.blog comments powered by Disqus