Is there conflict between DIY Design Builders and Designers?
The graphic and web design world is changing and evolving, and 2020 is going to see even more significant changes. DIY Drag & Drop Website Builders like Wix and Squarespace, and DIY Graphic Design builder tools like Canva and Stencil are growing in popularity, and shouldn’t be disregarded by the design industry. Fastly becoming a large market, DIY Design tools are bringing once ‘designer only’ expertise to a DIY market. Delivering design tools to those who no longer need training.
Wix was founded in 2006 and has seen growth from 1 million users in 2009 to 150 million in 2019. Squarespace is also going from strength to strength, creating millions of websites since 2003. In the Graphic Design tools, Canva boasts more than 15 million monthly active users, and Stencil over 220,000 users.
Website Builders and Editable Design builder websites have now become commonplace, and it is reflecting heavily on the design business. Online design services such as Canva, Squarespace, Wix now have their place, and graphic design has evolved into automated solutions for a large chunk of the offering.
Who are these Drag&Drop DIY Design tools and DIY Design Builders aimed toward?
There is a large market of people that DIY simplified graphic design tools appeal to, from those with a small budget, through to those starting in business to those who want to take control back on their online presence. Creating design solutions in a quick and easy online tool seems a no brainer. They are tools to bring software and services to create a quick outcome through ‘Instant Services’. Pre-made design, which has dramatically reduced the design timeframe in getting live.
But surely these DIY Design Builders are only if you want an off-the-shelf generic design?
Design can be elitist, but having access to creative design software is not as unusual as it once was. Graphic Design tools such as Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, and web design were elitist to some extent. They required paid expensive tools and vast degrees of learning. In some cases, they enabled Designers to use this as a barrier of needing a ‘professional’ to create the desired outcome. These DIY tools are well-performing services; Squarespace and Wix are well-made web design tool and compelling to use. Their simple but effective templates create clean and simple to build sites.
Canva can put out print-quality work, and with a fraction of the time of a designer, in a WYSIWYG user interface that allows easy editing. If you wanted a website five years ago, a web designer was required, but maybe this is no longer the starting point for a project. Many Clients use these DIY software as a starting point, as a quick website solution. But quickly find the choice overwhelming. Without knowing what to create, the decision in options and many templates can slow the process and become a sticking point on getting the site live. Designers have formal training, but not just in how to use design software, but what to do with it.
Is this design trend new?
There has always been generic design, themes, templates. But have the goalposts just moved? There are many uneducated designers out there who are working at sign shops and have been designing menus and signs for restaurants for years. Not to sound elitist or entitled, but bad design has existed for many years before these were around. DIY Design builders such as Squarespace and Canva at least look good and are hard to get wrong up.
Maybe the starting point for requiring a designer has now changed. Maybe we have to evolve with the industry, not relying on the tools we are proficient in, but on the outcomes, we can create irrelevant of the learning time involved. Users of these Online tools are buying into a service where you still have to have the idea, the concept and the visual eye to make great design will always leave space for designers and professionals. Although a changing role. Harder to quantify, and harder to sell to a client when many feel they can do it themselves. Perhaps we can learn from what has happened to the photography industry, where everyone now has access to a camera, but not the skills to produce the same outcome as a professional photographer.
Designers don’t need to be threatened by these online DIY Design builders. They do have their place. Mainly for those who want to be hands-on, and for those clients who want to do it themselves. There is a place for this in entry-level design, and for those who can’t afford a designer. Maybe these tools will lead to respect for good designers, for their ideas, expertise and originality in thinking and outcomes.
Stand out for your design
Your portfolio is not about your skills in learning software, but how you use it, but it is going to get harder and harder as the industry changes. It will involve designers educating their clients on – why you can’t do this yourself. What you are paying for and why you are worth what you charge. It would be best if you stood out for your ability to create something even more unique, not generic and outside the realm of a’ themed’ site, or template. Your knowledge is now your asset, as is your critical thinking.
Designers are problem solvers
The process of understanding the problem, and creating the outcome that solves this problem is even more paramount. Creating a design that reflects that company, their need, their uniqueness and identity is now the solution you are providing rather than repeating the current design trend. Create an outcome not unique to you as a designer, but unique to that company. Showing how you understand them, their clients and their problem, and your result is unique to them. These online services maybe should be embraced by designers. How can they ‘Hack them’ to make an even better design. Can these be used to create a unique outstanding design in half the time?
Matt works with a wide variety of companies from start-ups through to medium and large size companies to support their branding and identity work. Our work has included customer type places for brands which have featured in a wide variety of formats from TV & film through to packaging and print.
Creativity is key to our work, but so is understanding the real problem I understand underlies the project. Every project starts with a conversation about how we can help where you want to be as a company.
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