May 30, 2007

Where are we going?

by: in LEAP

The web design industry has really come along way over the past years. With the incorporation of handheld devices and online cafe's, users can access it just about anywhere. Along side its convenience, the Internet has also proven to be a vehicle of self-expression and business. From major corporations to personal advertisements, anyone can acquire a space on the Internet to promote themselves. Graphic designers have always played a major role in the creation and maintenance of these websites; however, with its now simplistic nature, any average person can create their own site without any training.

It is a little intimidating when you have friends who know a little more than you do in the field of web design, especially when that is what you plan on doing as a career. This is the predicament where I currently reside. With trends (such as MySpace, YouTube, etc.) the ordinary person can create their own contraption and place it online for the world to see. Users are capable of fully customizing their personal web page with streaming video, music, layout, etc. MySpace has also proven to be a successful place for bands to advertise new music and also their latest tour dates; this also goes for companies as well with new promotions and sales. In some cases their sites on MySpace are more frequently updated than their own domain!

Students at a number of universities are also given a free space hosted by the school while they are enrolled. These private spaces are not openly advertised to students and are almost unknown to the student body to take advantage; however, the option is there. The only problem is there are no templates and one must start from scratch, which could prove to be a challenge for most because they can't go to their favorite code generator for help. Also, strict guidelines are obviously set on these sites because students are to represent the university. Termination of this space obviously comes once the student has graduated or leaves the school.

With the simplification and ease of software use, amateurs can use Microsoft FrontPage or now Adobe Dreamweaver without having to know a thing about html or design. This is very useful for groups with a low budget who cannot afford to pay a design company for a professionally done product and just wants to get their name out in the open.

Companies have also been asking customers to submit their own designs for products and if they are chosen, ultimately their design will be mass-produced. This has always been an easy way for them to save money and not have to pay a designer for a professional job. This is very evident with Pepsi's new strategy in releasing a new can design every month. They intend to attract teenagers to go to their company's web site and create a billboard using preconceived stencils and the winner will have their own work placed in Times Square, what more could one ask for?

In my opinion I don't think these average joes will take over the industry. The public sites where users can upload their own content will just prove to be a fun past time and possibly a way for people to become recognized. Not everyone can be a designer and not everyone can be a rocket scientist. What has risen recently appeals to a much younger generation and could possibly bring about a new breed of design and methods. I do feel that we should embrace these new forms of media and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Who knows where the Internet will be in the next ten years? It could be the one to make you breakfast in the morning and tuck you in at night - figuratively speaking of course.