Ex-agency MD: get out of web design!

Oliver Emberton

Oliver Emberton advocates services and apps over web design, arguing you can "put all of your heart and soul into something that you believe in"

Silktide MD Oliver Emberton has revealed the company’s thinking behind exiting the web design business after a decade, in favour of concentrating on software. He says that while web design has its benefits—variation, constantly learning new skills, ease of access—its downsides overshadow such things. Citing problems that will almost certainly be familiar to many .net readers, Emberton complains about being at the whim of bad clients, the lack of money to be made in web design, limitations regarding location, and the inability to truly forge your own destiny.

Speaking to .net, Emberton reveals that he shared the story because he felt his experiences were pretty universal: “I’ve heard similar sentiments from other web designers, but they're obviously not able to talk about them so freely!” he says. The article has, he thinks, “resonated with a lot of people.” So should more designers, developers and agencies consider moving to services and apps rather than web design?

“It isn't for everyone,” replies Emberton. “Web design is less risky and it's much easier to get started. However, there's a lot of competition out there and you'll always be working for someone else. I think there's a point where web designers want to take their work to another level, and clients are just holding them back. I guess it's like being a journalist with a drive to write that one perfect novel.”

Although there’s greater risk in Silktide’s current endeavours, along with less variety of work, Emberton is convinced he made the right decision: “Being able to put all of your heart and soul into something that you believe in - your chance to change the world - feels incredible. In comparison, working for clients, even running my own business, was just a job.” We ask, guessing what the answer will be, if Emberton ever sees himself moving back towards web design? “Not in a hundred million years,” he says.

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