I remember, way back when I started my writing business, making the first “Clear-Writing” website. It was basically a left hand table for navigation, and right hand space to put the “stuff”. I coded it myself in notepad. It was nothing fancy, but it looked nice, and did the job.
For several years, my little homemade site worked well, but as I grew, I felt it really didn’t represent my professionalism, etc. I’m an “ok” web designer, but my skills are much more suited to 1998 than 2000-something. And in looking at competitor’s websites, it was clear many others were “nicer” than mine. So I hired out – my friend Kelly Rao of Web-Eze did it for me (I basically had her code one page, and I took it from there.) It came out great – it looks wonderful, it’s easy to take care of, etc. In fact, it’s the site I’m still using today.
And that got me thinking – that website is more than 5 years old. Which is an absolute lifetime in internet years (internet years are like dog years on steroids.) So last month, I started thinking – “gee, is it time for another update?” To answer this question, I looked around to see how I looked compared to others… and I was pretty surprised at what I found:
It is abundantly clear to me that web design is getting worse. Many of today’s “modern” websites, by and large, look like crap. The proliferation of the WYSIWYG / CMS-era of web design has churned out millions of cookie-cutter sites that just look bad. They look blocky, the text looks awful, they can’t space anything well (you should leave a space in between bullet points, etc) – it’s just awful.
My five-year-old professional copywriting website looks infinitely better than any CMS site out there. Even this site you’re reading, which started life last year as a wordpress template (but uses traditional HTML coding in the meat of the pages), looks tons better than most sites out there.
I don’t want to sound old-fashioned, but the move away from traditional HTML coding has really changed the web design business. It’s likely opened the door to a lot of people who really aren’t skilled web designers, and I’m guessing CMS sites are a lot cheaper and easier for the end user as well, but I have to say, I’m not impressed with the look. It’s akin to a stately old house versus cookie-cutter tract housing.
Personally, I’m not using CMS style websites anytime soon. This blog is as close as I’ll get. All else being equal, I really feel a CMS designed site will hurt you business-wise.
Any web designers want to chime in?