Some time around the late 90′s when the dot com boom was booming the term ‘web design’ went mainstream and has been stuck in our rather pitiful English vocabulary ever since (much to the annoyance of web professionals around the globe, dare I say it). It’s an archaic and misleading term that does injustice to the vast variety of subtle nuances that fill our industry, one that would do well to be scrubbed off the face of the planet and never uttered again. Unfortunately though, even in this day and age, Average Joe can’t escape using it and constantly brings it up whenever I tell them I work in the web industry. “Ah so you’re a web designer?” they ask me. “Fuck no”, I respond, “I’m colour blind”.
We’re not a web design company
I don’t know when or why it happened but the unfortunate situation is that the term ‘web design’ is now synonymous with outdated firms or amateur companies and doesn’t even begin to stand testament to the huge scope of work that a proper web agency has to offer. It conjures up connotations of whacking up a quick WordPress template and doesn’t come close to addressing the subtleties or complexities involved in creating a truly beneficial product.
The fact is that web development has progressed so much from the original days of slapping up a single HTML page and calling it acceptable web design. Now, to be done properly and make a really wonderful site or app, the process involves a massive amount of (often under-appreciated) skill, finesse, experience and labour. Developers, programmers, account managers, project managers, marketeers, search engine optimisation gurus – designers themselves are only a single pawn on the chess board of talent these days and all of these skills and talents combine together to offer so much more than simple ‘web design’.
Finding a new term
I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the term ‘digital agency’ but I can appreciate why companies use it. Although ironically self-defeating in most cases (isn’t everything in the web industry digital by definition?), it’s a term that at least separates professional agencies from everyone else out there. It’s a way of saying that we’re more than just Dreamweaver jockeys and that we, in actuality, offer so much to your company beyond an off-the-shelf template and some stock photography. It’s a way of summarising our approach, our experience and all our skills and distinguish ourselves in front of those that merely call us ‘web designers’.
Ashamed to say web design
Ultimately I suppose I have to admit that much of my issue with the term ‘web design’ is that I’m ashamed to say it. I hate the connotations it conveys and how immediately uttering the words groups you with a certain level of unprofessionals or small timers, whether justified or not. I despise the mental images that it conjures in people’s head when they hear it and cringe when they lump me and my company into that category.
I am not a web designer and we are not a web design company. We are so much more than that.