An article at The Next Web asks the provocative question, “Is web design dead?” Of course, it quickly answers “No,” but the fact that the question even comes up in web design discussions is very telling. It tells us exactly what the article went on to explain in its own way: Web design is changing and a website design and development company has to be at the top of its game to make its own work seem consistently relevant at a time when some customers have questions about the important of hiring such a firm in the first place.

As a provider of web design services in Charlotte, NC, we recognize that we’ve got our work cut out for us in convincing you that the website we create for you will be better than anything you could have developed for yourself with a few downloaded templates and a crash course in basic HTML. And we’re prepared to rise to that challenge, but in turn we ask you to recognize that you’ve got your work cut out for you in trying to keep up with a billion other websites without falling into the trap of looking exactly like your competitors.

The Next Web explains that truly distinctive web design services are shifting toward user experience design. And if you read through their partial description of what that entails, you’ll see how much your web design company can accomplish for you beyond simply building an attractive and superficially easy-to-use website.

But we were a little disappointed by the ultimate scope of the Next Web article after we read its claim that it would discuss “why (and how) to think beyond web design.” Because in the end, that article may be looking at the upper edges of the skillsets a web design company should have these days, but it doesn’t really mention the related skills that fall outside of that field altogether.

Let’s consider why a person might ask whether web design is dead. It’s presumably because he thinks that having a functional website is an entirely different task from driving traffic to that website and converting that traffic into customers. But this doesn’t have to be the case, and we’d argue that you’ll earn better returns if you think of web design services, web marketing, and search engine optimization as different elements of the same overarching strategy.

You’d be well served to find a web design company that can effectively implement UX design. But you’d be even better served by finding one that can handle that task, but also link user experience to the kinds of detailed consumer research and brand integration that govern small business marketing strategies, search engine optimization services, and informational website design.

Web design certainly isn’t dead. But it’s a heck of a lot livelier and more profitable if its placed in the hands of a company that fully understands the needs and expectations of both the site owner and the user.