A New Era of Web Design Freedom

Guest Blogpost by Richard Yanowitch

Technology is shaking up established industries at a breathtaking pace. Just look at Uber, AirBnB, Amazon or Facebook. We’re at a similar inflection point in the world of web design. A major technology disruption is underway that will revolutionize how millions of companies communicate with billions of consumers on the web.

The world of web design is big: there are more than 1 billion websites in the world, with more being added literally every second, says Internet Live Stats. Last year marketing leaders spent more on websites, digital commerce and digital advertising than any other category, Gartner says. Website spending topped the list with marketers spending 9% of budgets on websites. For media and entertainment companies, website spending increased to 14% of budgets, again according to Gartner. And we estimate there are a million-plus designers worldwide, based on global employment data, including graphic designers.

So, add it all up. One billion websites, marketing spend that runs in the billions, more than one million designers, billions of consumers. And now that design has achieved strategic importance for most brands, this must mean there’s been a global explosion of creativity, generating brilliantly designed and personalized web content for consumers the world over. It must mean creativity and design on an unprecedented, industrial (or internet) scale. A design revolution!

But Web Design is Broken

Except, that’s not what’s happening. The problem is:  for the world’s designers, who are the creative force behind most brands, designing for the web is a completely different animal. Yet for decades, they have been stuck with web design tools invented by developers, for developers, with complete disregard for designers and the creative process.

So today, by necessity, professional-grade web design means learning how to code. Or, it means handing-off designs to a team of irritated developers. Or, it means resorting to templated website builders. There is no other path. The paradigm is broken.

This results in websites that rarely reflect their original creative vision and come up far short of their key performance indicators. It results in too many digital experiences that look alike. This is unacceptable in today’s hypercompetitive brand environment where design must reflect rapidly changing consumer sentiment and brand strategies.

Time to Democratize Web Design

The time has come for change. The time has come to democratize web design for ALL designers, and free them from the shackles of outmoded web design tools.

This might sound hard, and it is. But it is also the kind of thing that’s been happening since people first started designing. Throughout history, new design and publishing technologies have empowered entirely new professional communities to open the expression of ideas to ever larger audiences. Most recently, the desktop publishing tools of the 1980s made print publishing available to an entirely new class of authors, designers, illustrators and publishers, and to ever-larger audiences.

Web design is now poised for such disruption. Not only are brands and consumers demanding more, better and faster websites, but we’re riding a wave of technology innovation that makes it possible. These innovations include new web design standards such as CSS and HTML5, that enable incredibly rich, interactive websites; advances in Javascript that support powerful new WYSWYG functionality in the browser; and new application frameworks such as React and Redux, built on top of the browser, which integrate and synchronize the many different design modalities required for modern web design.

The Design Freedom Movement Begins

The bottom line: what’s now possible is a revolutionary web design workflow that celebrates designers and the design process. Liberating designers from poorly designed, developer-centric technology. Freeing them to create an infinite variety of exquisitely designed, personalized web experiences for their brands and their followers.

Today, design and technology are being fused in a way that was never before possible. This will empower every designer to create amazing digital experiences — from design to publishing to updating — on a single, live platform.

This is the beginning of the Design Freedom Movement. Let designers design!


RICHARD2Richard Yanowitch is CEO, Brandcast, a VC-backed provider of code-free design software. Brandcast representatives will be at SXSW in Austin TX next week.