Something I hear from time to time, particularly from people just getting in to web development, is the fear that companies like Wix and Squarespace are making web developers obsolete. Now, of course I can’t tell the future so I always could be wrong, but if you’re a web developer or thinking of becoming one I don’t think there’s any reason to be afraid.
It’s true that drag-and-drop site builders can make a lot of sites that previously would have required a trained web developer. However, these site builders are necessarily limited in what they can do. The results are mostly just brochure sites with maybe a little extra functionality like a contact page. Such sites were already quick and easy for web developers to create and therefore had stopped being the bulk of web development work even before these site builders existed. Imagine trying to make something like Amazon or Facebook on a site builder, it’s completely impossible. Site builders can only provide cookie-cutter solutions for a mass audience; if you want anything that is at all custom you’re going to have to make it custom. That goes for both functionality and design.
A metaphor you can think about here is a microwave. If you want, all of your food can come from prepackaged microwavable meals. It’s absolutely possible. But unless you’re a broke college student, that’s probably not what you do. Even though microwavable meals are quick, cheap, and easy there’s something that they’re still missing: quality. That’s why microwaves haven’t made the skill of cooking obsolete. There’s just only so much you can do with a microwave; after that you’re going to need some skill.
I think web development will always be a much needed skill for the same reason cooking is. Yes, some clients are just looking for quick, cheap, and easy; but others want quality and uniqueness. There will always be a competitive advantage for businesses that have higher quality and a more unique user experiences on their websites; therefore there will always be businesses willing to pay for such websites.