With the profusion of free and low cost website builders online that are offering an increasingly diverse range of perfectly reasonable website layouts, is it possible that website design and development services, offered by online marketing companies such as The Formula, could be a dying trade?

Certainly within the low cost, subscription based offerings, there are definite advancements in the cheap website designs that small businesses now have access to. Just take a look at the recently launched website builder ‘The Grid’ which is based on combining web development and design expertise behind the scenes, with artificial intelligence (AI) to provide customers with an easy to use, intuitive web design platform.

Small businesses will naturally take advantage of these free or low cost website offers, especially when they are just starting out. But do these services offer a longer term solution? Will web design and development eventually morph into something that is entirely automated, or will businesses still require expert assistance from experienced web designers and developers in the future?

At The Formula we believe that there will always be an important place for professional and services. To qualify this statement, we’ve outlined a few of the key areas in which web designers and web developers will continue to offer value. But before we go there, let’s take the incredible advances in computing technology as an example of how professional expertise and solid experience will always have a place…

For those who are old enough, you will remember the days of the good old and MS DOS. A specific command would need to be entered to open a program, while actually using a program was a decidedly more complicated affair than it is with Microsoft Windows today. Program developers worked primarily in MS DOS and building a functional program, was far more of a challenge than it is today. Because was essentially the barebones level of the Microsoft operating system, the programmers and computer users from those days, had and continue to have a far deeper understanding of how computing technologies actually work. For this reason they remain valuable today because of their highly specialised knowledge.

So it is with web design and development. From the late 90’s to fairly recently, web developers (commonly referred to under the catch all phrase of ‘webmaster’) built, or coded websites by hand, from scratch and needed highly specialised expertise to make a website work across all browsers, platforms and more recently, devices. Although there are many hand-built websites still being developed today, a large number of web developers tend to customise plugins and off the shelf applications to suit the needs of their customers.

The fact is that experienced website developers and website designers who have the in-depth experience and understanding required to build a website, remain incredibly valuable because of their knowledge. But here are just 5 of the key areas in which website designers and website developers will continue to provide a valuable service to businesses, even in the face of automated website building programmes and platforms.

1. Online Marketing and Branding Expertise

When clients visit us for their first free digital marketing consultation, we are often informed about the online advertising that they have done. We’re also often told that they have lost substantial sums of money because their online advertising hasn’t worked for them. In addition, many come to us having gone the cheap website route, because they’ve found that they simply haven’t realised the objectives that they had originally anticipated.

A marketing strategy and more specifically in today’s online world, an , is imperative to ensure that you budget your marketing activities efficiently; plan for which online marketing tools will be most effective; as well as schedule the appropriate distribution of content.

While there are numerous marketing planners available online that you can use to create your own marketing strategy, it is ultimately the knowledge and experience of someone both active and successful in the field that will ensure you derive the utmost marketing benefit from your activities.

2. Professional Online Branding

Automated and cheap website builders are not designed to boost your brand in the most effective, memorable manner. To establish a professional branded presence online, you need the skills of a competent and successful online marketing team to truly succeed.

While the graphic designer and web designer will ensure that all the key elements of your brand align across all your online marketing platforms – from your website and online ads to your various social media accounts, your web developer will work in conjunction with the web designer to create a fully functional website that genuinely resonates with the needs and expectations of your audience.

If you are particularly passionate about your brand and serious about your business – portraying your brand online, in the most positively memorable manner, will be of utmost importance to you.

3. Content Marketing and Management

Most business owners don’t have the time to publish Facebook posts on a regular basis, let alone attend to the updates that Google constantly requires to their website content and blog. In addition there are many of us – both young and more senior – who remain a little uncomfortable with using online content management platforms. People also prefer to focus on their core function, and so we find for these reasons, that clients generally avoid using their content marketing tools.

Creating fresh, targeted and Search Engine Optimised content takes time. Content marketers and SEO copywriters will increasingly be required to assist clients to fulfil their online marketing needs, while website developers will be required to not only post content correctly using additional SEO techniques, but to also create new and innovative ways for that content to be easily distributed to your audience.

4. Website Maintenance and Security

Maintaining a secure website is not only critical to upholding your reputation with your customers, but is also essential for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Hackers continually seek out and take advantage of vulnerabilities which occur on websites where security is out of date. Read more detail about this .

Security vulnerabilities on your website can lead to leaks in sensitive data, or can infect the computers of visitors, when hackers hide malware within your website.
Regular updates to the security of your website is therefore essential. While some more technically savvy individuals may be able to apply security patches themselves, most people are not familiar with how to do this properly. In addition, while some free or cheap website building platforms may promise to distribute security patches automatically – these will not necessarily suffice to fully protect your website.

Because website security is such a dominant aspect in professional website development, an experienced website developer will always be up-to-date with . In the case of more complex websites, such as eCommerce websites or those which collect and store customer data, a professional website developer is needed to

5. Specialised Website Functionality

Technology is constantly evolving and more of what we do every day is linked to some form of access to the internet and internet based applications. In line with this and as many of us already know, recent years have seen a significant increase in the adoption of smartphones across all sectors of society.

The internet is therefore not only a place for company websites. It offers us much more. From mobile applications, in which a website developer must have knowledge of
how to code for Android and iOS, to customised server applications that interact with web based applications, as well as customised blogging and internet marketing engines – website developers will be required to increasingly extend and diversify their skills sets, in order to offer business clients specialised online solutions that go way beyond the building of a customised website.

We doubt very much for example, that a banking institution, a premium quality eCommerce company, or any business requiring specialised data capture and processing, will turn to cheaper, automated website builders for a solution.

Website design and development has evolved significantly over the last decade and it will continue to do so. As technology advances and permeates every facet of our lives, so the requirements of every specialist involved in the web design and development industry will need to evolve. Web design and development is not dead, it may continue to change, but it is here to stay.

Are you looking for a website that will genuinely boost your brand as part of a success driven online marketing strategy? Are you looking to really take your business to the next level? Why not book your free online marketing consultation with our talented team at The Formula and discover how we can help your business to boom!

Call Garth or Shiraz on 021 556 5661 or email us: info@theformula.co.za to set up your appointment today.

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