The commoditized state of web design

There has been a great deal of talk in general web design circles regarding what some call the commoditization of web design.

I have many opinions on this, but they boil down to the part where I feel some agencies are not providing the value that they think they provide. Successful design and consulting is about more than pixels, RWD technology, and tools. It’s about making a business more successful, through a variety of means.

I think the folks at Newfangled differentiate the issue fairly well, even if I don’t agree with it completely either. But I am in full support of their recipe for future business success:

There are only two things that matter to the success of a design business:

  1. Technological leadership
  2. Customer service

You cannot have one without the other. Responsive design, for example, is not technological leadership. It is technological management. Management is dealing with complexity. Leadership is dealing with change. Management is the solution to the problems before you. Leadership is the solution to future problems. Management is expected. Leadership is desired. And that’s where customer service comes in. Squarespace, The Grid, et al are technological management without real customer service. And since they all offer “customer service” in some form or another, I’d better define what I mean by customer service. Customer service is not the line you call when you have a problem. Customer service that matters — the kind that will save your business — is the person you call to help define the problem. Customer service is the leader at the other end of the line.

In somewhat related reading, Dave Rupert’s thought-provoking post on “ol’ John Henry” is worthwhile as well.