He predicted that within a few years, website design as it then existed would be effectively dead. That was a radical prediction because at the time, most websites were still hand-coded in HTML. Content management systems, such as WordPress, had started to appear but they were not mainstream and the templates available were very uninspiring.
Dave predicted that within a few years, WordPress would become the dominant content management system (CMS) and the quality of templates would improve dramatically, to the point that building a website would become something almost anyone could do.
He also issued a warning to the highly-priced web design agencies that their days of extorting huge sums of money out of their clients for a website were numbered. Furthermore, he asserted that the future of the web design industry lay not in coding but in content – i.e. the WORDS and the creative graphics – particularly the words, as the web is primarily about information.
Well, everything Dave predicted has come to pass in 2014. It is now very easy to build a website using WordPress and a pre-built theme or framework. The prime job of the modern web agency is to add the content.
But there’s a new, even more fundamental change occurring in web design
Until recently, I had not paid much attention to online website building platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and several others. I regarded them as purely for amateurs.
But things are changing rapidly in this regard. I have recently been introduced to two new online website builders that really have taken me by surprise. These are Airsquare and Duda. Now, Duda has been around for a while as Duda Mobile and they have a great platform for building a professional-looking mobile website quickly and cheaply.
But Duda now is also offering responsive websites, which will resize automatically to any size of browser – from a full-size computer down to a phone, and everything in between. Duda’s templates look great, they are easy to use and the sites look slick and professional.
The same applies to Airsquare. Furthermore, it’s a New Zealand company (based in Nelson) producing a world-class product and they clearly have global ambitions.
The founder of Airsquare is Dave Plested. He realised there was a need for an “all in one” website builder and web marketing platform, which allowed you to create a website, send email newsletters and sell online. Thus Airquare was born and it is becoming a genuine contender among the leading cloud-based website builders.
What I find so impressive about Airsquare is that it allows you to build not only a website but also an online store (which connects with Xero) and an email marketing system – all built into the one platform.
I never thought I would see the day when I seriously considered using a system like Airsquare to build websites for clients. And I don’t think the time has quite arrived – yet. But it’s not far off. I believe within 12 months, the standard of cloud-based website design software like Airquare, Duda etc will be such that they become the default choice for building small business websites.
In fact, this has already occurred with online stores
Cloud-based solutions such as Big Commerce and Shopify are rapidly taking over from open source shopping carts. They just make so much sense. They are quick and easy to build, so you can focus on adding the content rather than struggling with code. And there’s also the very important issue of security.
With open source software, there is always the threat of hacking. With a cloud based system you can dispense with all that worry.
So, my prediction for 2015 and beyond is that open source content management systems such as WordPress will start to give way to cloud-based website building systems, which are “rented” for a monthly fee.
Then the importance of CONTENT will become even more obvious as the fundamental component of good web design.