Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where have all the coders gone?

CSS coding is one of the more abstruse skillsets that enable the SEO and creative wizards to optimize their sites and to visually differentiate products with cutting edge designs. Apparently, the CSS rabbit hole runs deep, and there's no manual or limitations apart from the brain power of the designer.

If you're still building with tables or using HTML to manage site structure and design; or even doing total site development in Flash, then according to some you're not with the program. The clever people are apparently building structure and design into a separate style sheet that orders the HTML how to behave. It's not a visual process, which makes it an obscure art form. Every few years we all have to go back to school and learn how to do things over again. Misery loves company.

For every frustrating new situation that requires tech savvy, there's always a market opportunity; and thus it's inevitable that full WYSIWYG CSS editors will be hitting the market within a year or two -- just as we have seen from HTML, Visual Basic and even business application development from companies including Coghead, Spring Widgets, Tersus, and others.

The closest I've seen to that paradigm is Skybound's new product. It's currently in beta and from the looks of it, it's  a pretty cool product. These guys seem polished and well-funded if one can judge a book from its cover. They definitely stand at the vanguard of the latest CSS trend that should roll out any day now. You can bet your bottom dollar that the people at Adobe are working long hours to get their market killer into public domain. I think it's reasonable to expect that CS5 will offer a new version of Dreamweaver capable of building CSS directly into the WYSIWYG GUI. Now that would be thoroughly disruptive. As of this moment, Skybound is the closest I've seen to WYSIWYG, and I'm sure their developers already have much more in store for us.

Conclusions and predictions

WYSIWYG CSS will make high end site design accessible for the right-brained artists who are missing a left hemisphere. It also means more competition for the programmers and SEO specialists, which will dilute value in that market segment and drive people into new technologies and trends.

The days of the webmaster are numbered. Packaged solutions off the shelf are taking over. Look how many free templates are available from offshore companies that churn them out for pennies.

I think the natural market evolution will see a two class society in human Web development.

1) The high end designers--the creative geniuses--will always have a check in their POB each monthly. In this group, too, are the interactive people; motion graphics will always be more art than science.

2) Everybody else - will be forced to migrate into more technical areas of IT, commerce and SEM.

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