Should website designers be worried about Googlepages?

Google recently launched Googlepages, a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) web application which allows the creation of very, very simple websites that will (at some stage) integrate with other Google APIs.

Googlepages (or Google Page Creator) is a free tool that allows you to create web pages right in your browser and publish them to the web in one click. With no software to design, and no web designer to hire the pages are hosted free of charge on Google’s massive servers and are available at “yourname.googlepages.com”.

Aimed at technophile’s who don’t know much about web site design, the package aims to help and empower people to create a website as “easily as creating a document in a word processor”.

But should this worry website designers/programmers? Well, if your market is small businesses clients who don’t have much money to spend and just want a website, you may do so. Why? Is just because it’s Google? Well, that and because very slowly the web is trying to move towards more usable, useful and engaging user experiences.

Taking a look at 37signals’ corporate philosophy does make me rethink the way I see the whole production of website applications, and the profileratioin of Web 2.0 technologies is going to make user experiences all the more useful, engaging, usable and rewarding.

But haven’t we heard all this before? For years Yahoo! promoted it’s Geocities service to empower people to create simple websites using it’s WYSIWYG service. Indeed, I remember a story a number of years ago that Walmart was selling websites for under $100 (I can’t rememeber the exact figure).

The marketing of websites is constantly being blurring; is it a product you can buy off the shelf, or is it a service?

This kind of poor marketing may actually end up damaging the website industry because clients will believe that websites are easy to create, and therefore should be cheap (ie: next to nothing / free) because it is a product you can get off the shelf, like printing or printer ink; when its not always the case.

Should website designers be worried about Googlepages? Probably not, there will always be people who will associate websites as being a product, something easy, something cheap and therefore will often look for the cheapest alternative.

I still think that hiring a professional web programmer/developer to achieve a specific goal will always be necessary (for the time being anyway!)