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DIGITAL MARKETING: The death of the web designer?

Web design is still a relatively new discipline. As with many developing fields, the fringes of web design tend to be inhabited by various self-declared and untrained 'designers'. Such people have normally taught themselves a bit of HTML and Dreamweaver and then branded themselves as web designers or developers, yet they cannot design.

In the past this didn't matter much to agencies or clients, as the quality of work of an experienced and talented web designer always shone through. You couldn't disguise this, and the reasons for employing a proper web designer were clear: you needed the quality and experience in order to get a design that really worked. The main effect this had on web design agencies was a bit of minor irritation caused by the chore of sorting the wheat from the chaff when going through CVs. Or, rather, this was true until now.

A short-cut never hurt anyone... did it?
Recently there's been a proliferation of websites offering thousands of design 'themes'. These are available to download and use for free or perhaps for a very modest fee. They offer customisable web design themes, professionally produced, which plug directly into a range of CMS systems: Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Silverstripe and others. (See themeforest.net or templatemonster.com to see what I mean). These sites allow you to browse thousands of templates, find the one you like, and then customise it for your brand.