If you haven’t lived under a rock there’s a chance you’ve noticed an increase in articles stating the death of web design firms and that web designers needs to specialize to survive.
Dramatic wordings indeed but you know what? It’s most probably true…
Running a web design business IS getting harder. The market is changing fast and many agencies and web designers now need to adapt… or face a difficult future. So why is this happening?
Let’s review some of the principal reasons:
First, have a look at what’s happening at the bottom end of the market. Nowadays many small business clients choose website builders like Squarespace, Wix etc for creating their websites.
And it makes perfect sense!
Why should a small company pay a web designer to build a bespoke website for them when they can use a WYSIWYG website builder and build the site themselves. This shift has been happening for a while, but the change is accelerating with more sophisticated browsers and services. Look at advanced tools like The Grid for example.
Many businesses now also question the reason why of having a website altogether. Many say a Facebook page is enough. This also makes perfect sense.
Meanwhile at the top of the market another big shift is happening:
Larger companies are now realizing that being digital is mission critical. Handing off the responsibility of important business functions to external agencies doesn’t make much business sense. The result? Big companies are now hiring their own dedicated digital staff.
So, what’s a small web agency to do when they lose work to automated website builders or turn-key eCommerce solutions?
They have to move up the market and try to win larger clients.
And what are larger agencies doing because they lose work when Big Co is moving digital in-house?
They move down the market and take on smaller clients.
The result is a market where too many agencies try to attract too few clients. It’s brutal. The market is becoming incredibly overcrowded.
So what’s a poor web designer or small web agency to do in such a market climate? The answer lies in specialization. Any web designer wanting to stay employable would do good in thinking long and hard about how they can assert themselves as an expert in a specific field.
Because it narrows down how many other designers can compete with you for that special skill. Maybe more important, you’ll be able to offer the type of services that cannot be easily replicated by automated tools or that requires you to be part of an in-house team.
So, what should you specialize in then? And what kind of skill-set should you have?
That, of course, is the million dollar question and an answer that you need to find out for yourselves.