Like most industries, web design has changed quite a bit over time. In its early days, people put websites together using a very DIY process. Code was often written by hand in a simple text editor.

But as the industry evolved, so did the way we build sites. Many of the more manual portions of the process have been replaced by tools that bring added convenience and functionality.

For example, many designers prefer to use a CSS framework such as Bootstrap, rather than reinvent a new UI for each project. Likewise, it’s common practice to install a copy of WooCommerce as opposed to building a shopping cart from the ground up. Much like the assembly line forever changed the automotive industry, this massive array of available tools and assets have changed web design.

This power and convenience come with a lot of benefits. Yet, it can also put us into some very difficult situations. With that in mind, let’s explore the effect this has had on modern web design.

Rapid Development and Powerful Features

The old way of building websites was, even at it’s best, inefficient. Constructing everything from scratch (or even your own personal library of code) took up precious time and resources. Projects took longer to complete. Plus, complex functionality was beyond the reach of the average designer.

The fact that we now have at our disposal tens of thousands of free and low-cost pieces of software has leveled the playing field. It means that a solo freelancer can compete for bigger jobs or that a small-time developer can build something that could potentially be used by millions.

But it’s not just professionals who are benefitting. These days, even novices can clear these formerly formidable hurdles. For some, it might be as simple as installing an attractive WordPress theme and a selection of relevant plugins. Within a few hours, they can be selling their products and services online.

A large part of the design and development process is now picking and choosing which pieces we want to utilize. Everything from simple UI components to high-end functionality is within just about everyone’s reach.

A city skyline with motion blur.problem, there’s not much for a designer to do other than wait for a fix (and placate an impatient client).

In a worst-case scenario, perhaps that bug fix never comes. At that point, you’re stuck with something that doesn’t work and forced to find an alternative. While you may indeed find a suitable replacement, it’s still a frustrating experience.

Security and Privacy Risks

This also opens the door to potential privacy and security concerns, as well. We’ve already seen previously-safe software fall into the wrong hands and used for not-so-nice purposes. And the potential for further abuse is always there.

And while the vast majority of people behind these products are trying to do the right thing, the fear of a single bad actor is well-founded. The problem for anyone building a website is that it’s just impossible to know who to trust. Even if you think you’ve made the right choices, the situation is fluid and can change without notice.

Man holding a key in hand.