Web Designers Who Can’t Code?

Posted on: January 25th, 2012 - Written by: Tyler Gordon

Web Designers

It is hard to believe there ARE web designers who cannot code.

There are some designers in today’s environment who don’t even have the most basic HTML and CSS skills to turn a flat design into an actual site. Those who call themselves web designers absolutely SHOULD be able to code their own designs. The least complex coding of designs would be front-end code. It is quite amazing to find designers who are also amazing back-end programmers – although there are exceptions – and firms that provide both such as INSite Business Solutions.

The Value of Code To Web Designers:

There are no-code designers who are well versed in the web and produce great work but they would be much more effective if they did have more knowledge of code. Writing HTML and CSS is so easy, that there’s actually no excuse not to learn how.

Of course there are those who won’t code. Often those who fall into this category are acting more in an Art Director role that the web designer role. Or you may not be the lead designer and provide input to a team. However, having the knowledge and choosing not to code is different than lacking the knowledge in the first place. This lack of knowledge places a tremendous, and potentially detrimental, gap between the designer and the end product. Non-code-aware designs are frustrating for designers, waste valuable project time and put project success at risk.

Just realize that front-end code (HTML and CSS) are intrinsically linked to the design process and, is a design tool just as much as Photoshop is.

More and more designers are adopting designing in the browser as part of their workflow. Some treat it as the biggest part of the design process, allowing the client to see flexible layouts, type, and rendering engine treatments on the fly as a design comes together. Others see it as an extension of Photoshop work: Initial design is done offline and is completed by filling in the gaps while in the browser. The purpose of this is not to tout the merits and pitfalls of designing in the browser, but the key point is that if you don’t know how to write HTML and CSS, it’s an avenue that’s completely closed off to you. The design process can begin and end entirely in your graphics app, but because websites will not (and should not) look the same in every browser, the design will not actually be complete until it’s coded.

What about developers who design?

If a designer should have some basic development skills, surely a developer should have some basic design skills? Well, yes, that would be fantastic, but it rarely is. It is easier to work design around code than it is to work code around design.

Liberate yourself by learning front-end code so that it doesn’t hold you back. If you understand how things work, you will not shy away from what might be your best work.

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