Is Squarespace really the end of web design?

Are companies like Squarespace and Wix the end for web designers?

Short answer: No.
Long answer: No, but I completely understand why you ask.
Really long answer: First we have to understand what web design is and should be.

What is a website?

Most people say that a website displays what a company does. The popular notion is that if you want to see what a company does, you should go to their website. Now, if that were really the case, it would be quite foolish to pay a web designer/developer thousands to produce a website for your company when you can do it yourself without needing to learn anything. If you’re simply looking to provide more information to your audience, there are cheaper options out there like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly or even a simple Facebook company page will do. These options make it easy for someone to update a profile, upload images and post promotions. So why pay thousands for a website? Because in the majority of cases, a website should be an extension of your company that caters to those who won’t necessarily access your company locally. Consider this: It can be difficult to calculate your revenue related to the sign above your store. So you often look at the sign as an expense that you won’t recoup. Instead, the high rent you pay on a prime location is basically an investment because there’s more traffic and consequently more profits (location location location!) This is how you should look at a website. Whether you spend $1k or $50k on your website, it should bring in revenue. Think of a website in terms of retail, not information.

Your website should be an investment, not an expense.

A common scenario

Can anyone without any knowhow create a proper e-commerce website? Let’s say you sell pencils and the shop is called We Love Pencils. You have a shop in the center of town and you’ve checked all the boxes in regards to marketing, advertising and sales. Let’s assume you’re doing well. Now you want to expand online. You buy your domain welovepencils.com and enter the realm of web design. Rather than using your website to inform people of just how much you love pencils and when you started loving them, you decide to create an e-commerce site. If you zoom out a bit and look at what the scenario depicts, you’ll see that we basically have two shops now. Here’s where it gets good: the local shop is open from 9:00 to 18:00, six days a week. The online shop is open…24/7. Holy smokes! With the proper implementation of online marketing, advertising and sales strategies…the sky’s the limit! So, do you have what it takes?

The web developer and a division of roles

If you have any experience in opening a company of any sort, you know that one person can’t do it all. You have people who are good at management, those who excel in administration, those who are brilliant salesmen and so on. You have to learn to delegate and not micromanage. Though the ABC’s of sales can be applied to a website, in the digital world things like UX & UI start to show their significance more and more. You can get away with a few confusing aisles in a shop because you’re the only shop in town, or perhaps the customer will have to walk a mile before he/she finds another shop that sells what they need. However, in the interactive world of e-commerce, all the customer has to do is click, and you’ve lost them. They are only a click away from buying, and you are only a click away from losing them. A good web designer understands this more than anyone and keeps that in mind at all times. A good web designer should be knowledgeable in behaviorism/psychology, marketing, advertising, sales, customer service and also have the technical skills to implement strategies over an interactive medium. In a big company, the web designer often doesn’t even exist. Web designer, today, is what you call someone who commonly works as a freelancer and is the combination of many departments. It’s important to understand this concept, because this is the real difference between a web designer who knows what their doing and one who doesn’t.

The chair and the balcony

I love DIY! I’ve always encouraged people to try to fix simple things in the house by themselves. You learn a lot about craftsmanship and you can save a lot of money. Perhaps the most important thing you learn is respect. You learn to respect that each and every tradesman serves a specific purpose and you become aware of your limitations. I’ll build a chair, knowing that if I don’t build it right, at worst, I’ll just fall on the floor, be sore and laugh at it the next day. I might even try to build a better one because it won’t really cost me much. But if I have to build a balcony, I’m going to call a professional.

I’m not at all worried…

I think services like Squarespace are great for those who are starting out online. These services are generally easy to use and don’t require much technical knowledge at all. I don’t fret and I don’t really see them as competition simply because, well they’re not. If someone tells me that they just want a space with their name as the domain and they just want to show some of their works, without any intention to sell them…well…that’s just something you setup in exchange for a few beers, I can’t really put a price tag on that. Personally, I’m not in the business of charging people who need a flat tire changed.

Facebook is a closed community so I don’t find it very useful, although it serves it’s purpose as far as presence is concerned. However Squarespace is great for those who just want a simple DIY gallery. If a web designer considers a drag & drop platform to be competition, I would say that the web designer needs to up their game if they’re at all serious about web development.

Think of Squarespace as simply taking the programming out of web design. And there’s your answer. Just because you don’t have to program, doesn’t mean you know how to create a website. Think of programming as just a tool.

In short, it’s like asking an electrician if he/she is worried about losing business now that people can change a light bulb themselves.