Should Web Designers Know How To Code?

Should web designers know how to code? It’s a question that comes up again and again, usually with great and passionate disagreement by the design community. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary, but I do think it’s in the best interest of web designers to know how to develop their designs.

Tweet from Elliot Jay Stocks

Earlier this year Elliot Jay Stocks caused a bit of controversy with what he thought would be a mostly innocuous comment on Twitter.

Instead, the simple tweet above turned into a passionate discussion argument about what skills a web designer should have. Last week Michael Tuck revived the issue with a post for Six Revisions, Should Web Designers Know HTML and CSS?.

A couple of videos I watched this past weekend also got me thinking about the question again. The first is a short video on why designers should learn programming. The second video I’ll get to in a bit.

Spider on a book stopped at the work 'necessary'

What’s Necessary?

Here’s a list of things that are necessary for web designers.

  • Breathing
  • Food and water
  • Shelter from the elements

That’s it. Those are the things necessary for all of us, web designer or any other human being. No matter what else you try to add to the list you’ll find more than one exception and if there’s an exception to something, that something clearly wasn’t necessary.

So is it necessary that web designers know how to code? Of course not. There are plenty now and there will be plenty tomorrow who will never know a lick of code and still manage to be great and successful web designers. That doesn’t mean web designers shouldn’t learn how to code though.

I agree with Elliot’s surprise when encountering web designers who have absolutely no knowledge of how to code their designs and I agree with Michael that web designers should know html and css, but as far as the question of whether it’s necessary for web designers to know how to code, the answer is very definitely no they don’t need to.

The rest of this post will focus on why need or not it’s in the best interest of web designers to know how to code.

Coda code editor by Panic

Why Web Designers Should Know How to Code

There are lots of things we should all do that aren’t necessary. For web designers being able to code their designs is one of those things. Even if you never plan on developing your designs knowing how has benefits.

  • Understanding the medium you work in will help you work better in that medium
  • It offers a competitive advantage
  • It leads to better communication along the web creation pipeline
  • The more you know in general, the better designer you’ll be

Ultimately knowing how to code will make you a better web designer, much the same way understanding something of the printing process will make you a better print designer.

You don’t need to to run the printing press or know every detail about the paper and ink, but having at least a general understanding of the materials and the process and the strengths and limitations of each will lead to less problems and provide you with information to make additional design choices.

UX Week 2009 | Jesse James Garrett | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Understanding the Medium

The work of a web designer is inevitably going to be a web page or website. Some might argue that’s not quite true given the rise of apps, but even then the design ends up being developed with code. The medium we work with is the web.

The code itself isn’t the medium, per se, but the code is how we interact with the medium.

About 3 1/2 minutes into the video above Jesse James Garrett talks about how design has historically been taught. He mentions that in the historical approach to be a really good designer is to know your medium and that for many designers the first choice was to define the medium they would work in.

Jesse calls this mediumism and suggests it’s an outdated approach. I agree to an extent at least with the idea of having to choose a single medium to work in.

There are aspects of design that aren’t medium dependent. For example using space in a design. Whether your design ends up in print, on the web, or on the surface of a balloon, you’ll want to consider the use of space.

However working with the medium is still important. You wouldn’t attempt to use a fountain pen to place your design on a balloon unless your goal was to pop the balloon. An understanding of the medium is only going to make you a better designer in that medium. With web design that understanding comes in large part through an understanding of the code used to produce web pages.

Digital rendering of a staring competition between a smiley face and a turtle

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

I’m sure you’ll agree that a lot goes into creating a successful website. A few things off the top of my head that might contribute to the success of a site.

  • Clear business and site goals
  • Valuable products and services
  • Sales Copy
  • Content creation
  • Visual design
  • Web development
  • Off-site Marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Backend programming
  • Database management

Are you, or even can you, be an expert in all of the above? Probably not. Still when I consider all the different things that go into making a great website I want to learn them all. It’s one of the reasons I became a web designer in the first place. There’s always more to learn. I don’t expect to master everything, though I do expect to improve my skills in everything related to creating a website.

Aside from the intellectual challenge, knowing more about the various aspects of creating websites gives you a competitive advantage. It will help you differentiate yourself from your competition. When your skills cross disciplines you offer added value to your clients.

If you’re applying for a job and you know visual design, but the next interview knows both visual design and how to develop that design as a web page, who do you think offers more value to the company? Who stands the better chance of getting the job?

You can differentiate yourself in negative ways too. If a large segment of the industry knows how to code and you don’t you lessen your value. I’d bet there are more web designers out there who know html and css than don’t know. It only makes sense to keep up.

You might argue that you don’t need to code since you work with someone who does, but what happens when the client asks questions about the code (it does happen) or you need to come up with an estimate of time and price for your work and your developer is not in the room.

Which brings us to the next point.

Pipeline among autumn trees at trenton falls

Better Communication Along the Pipeline

If you look again at the list above it should be clear that no one person is likely to do all that work. It’s going to be done by several people at least. Several people who will communicate with each other.

It helps to have some shared language with people when communicating with them. I can’t tell you how many times a web designer with no knowledge of coding has sought me out to develop their designs. The communication is sometimes difficult and leads to confusion. While I consider it my responsibility to help a designer understand in those situations, there’s a limit to how much I can do.

Also the more time I have to spend explaining the development process the more I have to charge for my involvement in the project. It’s unreasonable to think I could spend two hours explaining something that will result in a one hour job. I can’t make a living that way.

As a web designer you may not communicate with the person who later writes press releases, but you’ll certainly have to talk to the person who’s developing your design. The two are tightly connected. The more you as a web designer understand the development process the better your communication with a developer will be and the more likely the finished page will be faithful to your design.

Digital painting of the work 'skills'

The Many Skills of Design

In addition to the list of the components involved in creating a successful website here’s another incomplete list of different skills that benefit a designer.

  • Problem solving
  • Art/creativity
  • Psychology
  • Usability
  • Accessibility

You can certainly be a good designer without general knowledge of psychology, but understanding things like the principles of gestalt will help make you a better designer. Design crosses a lot of different fields and it’s in your best interest to know something about as many as you can.

If you’re a freelancer or you run your design business it makes sense to learn more about accounting, and marketing, and general business concepts. You may choose to hire an accountant, but if you learn nothing about accounting you better hope your account is 100% trustworthy.

You may hire someone to do your marketing, but doesn’t it make sense to know where your marketing dollars are being spent. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should know something about those other disciplines.

Anime depicting a physical argument

Two Counter Arguments

First a comment by Alex Crooks on the Six Revision post.

A designer who can’t code knows no boundaries of web development, and is always pushing the limits of what we can do/display on a website. Innovation is often found because he is not limiting the design because he knows it might be very hard to code.

Alex makes an interesting point. Sometimes the best way to see a solution or innovate is to step back and see thing with a child’s mind. See things without the curse of knowledge.

It’s an interesting point, but one I think makes an ineffective argument in this debate. Yes there will probably be times when knowing too much about the limitations of coding something leads to less innovation, but there are better solutions to the problem. A simple one is to ask someone else for a different perspective.

By the same logic you would get more innovative designs without any knowledge of design or your client’s business or life in general. You wouldn’t feel limited to design navigation that works for example.

Limitations are not a bad thing. Design is about constraints. Take away all the constraints, all the limits, and you have art. Art is a wonderful thing, but it’s not design. Design is limited from the very moment a project begins. You’re designing something for a specific client with a specific budget and a specific audience. Each limits innovation.

There are better ways to overcome those times where innovation might be stifled than a lack of knowledge.

Staples easy button

Is it Easy to Learn to Code?

Depends on who you ask I guess. It wasn’t difficult for me to learn. A few days with html and the rest was memorizing different tags I could use. CSS took a little longer, but an understanding of the basic syntax again only took a few days and then it moved into memorizing different properties and values.

And yet both took much longer to master, especially css. It’s easy enough to memorize the code to float something to the left and much more difficult to learn how to use that code in a working design. It’s easy to learn how to use css to turn a piece of text blue and much harder to understand which css properties will be best to use to develop a layout and how to then structure your html so it works best with those css properties.

Coding is a different skill than designing. The former relies more on the left side of the brain, where the latter relies more on the right.

While I’ll still argue that it’s worth working through this learning curve it’s the one reason I can accept for not being able to code your own designs. Not everyone finds it easy to learn how to develop websites. For many of us it is relatively easy to pick up, but that’s not true for everyone and there’s no reason why it should be.

That doesn’t excuse not knowing anything about how a web page is developed, but it is a reasonable argument for why some web designers can’t code their own designs.

Coda code editor by Panic

Additional Resources

Instead of trying to embed links to some of the other people who have covered the topic throughout this post, I thought it made more sense to list some of them together here. As you might guess there’s a lot of opinion on this topic and the links below only point to a few of those opinions.

Be sure to read the comments on these posts as that’s where much of the debate happens

Tweet from Elliot Jay Stocks

Summary

Is it necessary for web designers to know how to code? I don’t think so. Again I consider very little in life to be absolutely necessary and a designer’s ability to code a website is not one of them.

However I do think web designers should want to know how to write html and css, because it will only make them better web designers. Coding is going to enter into the development of a website and will be closely tied to the visual design the same way paper and ink is going to enter into the creation of a print design.

The more you know about the medium in which you work the better you can design for that medium. The better choices you can make in regards to that medium. You don’t need to become an expert, but you should want to know as much as you can.

It will help you understand what’s possible and what’s considered not possible. It helps you see where you can push boundaries and where you should probably stick to conventions and existing design patterns. There are better ways to not stifle innovation than a lack of knowledge.

You wouldn’t or shouldn’t begin a design without an understanding of how the success of that design will be judged. It constrains you, but in a good way. The same is true for using a grid, choosing a small color palette from all the possible colors, and using a limited set of typefaces. All constrain in a good way. The same is true for knowing the limitations of how browsers render html and css code.

It’s not that web designers need to learn how to code, it’s that knowing how to code, at least the basics, will help you design better websites.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

62 comments

  1. For designers who feel it’s better to be ignorant of coding (or even markup) principles, I have much higher expectations for prolific creativity and originality, yet also less confidence in their ability to bring their ideas to fruition. In short, if you’re too important to learn something about your craft, you better be bringing it like Don Draper, day in and day out.

    For my part, I believe that creativity comes from experimenting with a medium and being unafraid of its challenges. I don’t think designers should do all their own coding, because both crafts can suffer in that environment, but the overwhelming majority need more ability to communicate with their developers, not less.

    Shoot, do they teach art school by bringing in clay modelers and having the students tell them what to make? Heck no. You gotta be ready to get your own hands dirty.

    Come on, people. HTML is a markup language, it’s easy, it’s not C++. Adapt and survive.

    • Alex it’s interesting that you mention experimenting with the medium. I also think it’s important to embrace the medium.

      I think both are part of design and you can’t do that with a website without an understanding of how web pages are built. You don’t have to build them, but you should have an understanding how.

  2. I guess it depends on your definition of a web designer. As far as I’m concerned, html and css is part of a web designer’s job, not a developer’s. That’s the way it’s been everywhere I’ve worked anyway! I know some designers see it as just something they unfortunately have to struggle with to bring their designs to life, but for me it’s what I love doing. I wouldn’t dream of taking a job where my involvement ended with a Photoshop mockup. To me, asking if web designers should know how to code (x)html/css is basically the same as asking “should web designers know how to design websites”, but I guess the definition of the role varies on where you work.

    • The definitions of what we do are vague sometimes aren’t they? Those of us who work for ourselves tend to do everything. There are definitely people working in larger organizations where there’s a lot more specialization so I think it’s fairly common that one person creates the visuals and another turns those visuals into a working web page.

      I’m like you though wanting to learn more about every part of a website. It’s part of the challenge and part of the fun.

    • At my company we are very focussed on efficiency. It’s tricky to charge a client full rate hourly for Markup Programming by a designer who may be 20% slower at it than the programmer.

      Albiet the skill to do it helps the designer make more appropriate design decisions, the advantage is lost when estimates spiral to cover the designers programming time.

      We ask designers to understand the basics of HTML and CSS then encourage programmers to find instances where they can show the designer options based on their knowledge. It requires humility and patience for designers and programmers but it fosters team work.

      • Good point about charging for work that may be done slower. I would think if you’re charging by the project than any slowness is a cost you absorb instead of being passed on to the client.

        You could look at that cost as something that ultimately leads to designers and developers being able to do better jobs and working better with each other. It becomes a small cost to allow them to learn new skills.

        • Agreed. We’ve begun letting our designers program the simpler projects like eNewsletters which are set at a fixed price. It’s offsetting the education however the client doesn’t pay for “slowness”. The great thing about eNewsletters is that they are CSS and HTML only in nature, are quick and still require compliance against a dozen or so different platforms. It’s basic website development on a smaller scale.

          • That’s a good way to balance it. Your staff gets to learn without having to pass on the costs to the client and without it having to cost you too much for the time.

  3. I just can’t get behind the argument that not knowing coding somehow frees your creativity. Yes, people who don’t understand that some things don’t work on the web might come up with some interesting ideas, but how many of them are actually, you know, useful?

    At the end of the day, you’re stuck working within the parameters of the medium. If you don’t understand the fundamentals of that medium, you’re at a significant disadvantage.

  4. I’m a web designer and I think it just comes down to the industry wanting to push what used to be done by a code/programmer for $75 per hour to a person who costs less per hour – the designer.

    Why aren’t code geeks forced to do hours of daily art design?

    When I’m writing css I keep thinking to myself “What the heck does this have to do with design?” NOTHING! The design is already been done.

    Designers doing code is the industry speak for CHEAPER LABOR.

    • Lots of designers charge more than $75/hour. I’m not sure designers are necessarily cheaper than developers, though in some cases they are.

      I think it’s more to do with specialization. In fairness design and development are different skills and most people are naturally better at one or the other.

      To me it’s more about wanting to learn what you can about the other side even if you don’t do what the other side does in practice daily.

  5. @linda

    From a developer perspective, we don’t want designers doing the coding. And don’t really care if they can get in depth with it.

    It’s mostly about having them be aware of the tools of the trade. Sort of like how an architect needs to know how a house is actually built when his part of the job is done.

    An example would be a designer whining that a developer refuses to make text wordwrap around an image rather than the actual image dimensions. The designer used to layer masks and what not has no clue that there is no realistic way to wrap text over the bounding box of an image.

    Another potential issue that would be solved by designers having experience with the issues of development is browser comparability. Demands of pixel perfenction, while developing with ie6 in mind for instance.

    A final example that I just had to deal with. If a designer lacks understanding of how the webpage is put together, they may not deliver appropriate images. The resolution and apsect rations may be completely off. it might be a 100×100 image in a 8500×11000 field of white. It might be smaller than what their design calls for. Successive versions of the same images may be delivered with entirely different dimensions and file formats.

    To return to the analogy, an architect isn’t expected to be pounding nails at a job site, they are however expected to know that there are such things are nails…

    • I can empathize with all your examples. Each has happened to me at one time or another.

      Knowing the tools of the trade is a good way to put it. I think it’s great for any designer to really know how to code and develop his or her sites, however, I don’t think they have to. It’s more about understanding what the other does in order to be able to work together better.

  6. I completely agree with Hutch. While I am a designer and a developer due to the small market that I live in, I come across this everyday. A print designer has thrown a website design together. And due to the fact that they have no clue about the can’s and can nots of web design or the meticulous nature of it, they in turn cause hours of additional work by the developer.

    While I would agree that a designer doesn’t need to know how to sling some javascript or php but if you can’t at the very least cut up your design into html/css then your going to have a real hard time finding a job in the market I live in. Any classified you find in my area Detroit/Ann Arbor, you aren’t going to find html/javascript skills not recommended but required so it would appear that employers would argue otherwise.

    And to comment toward Linda’s excuse for saving money…. maybe if you learned more code you could ask for a raise… but maybe you don’t enjoy making money. Think about it, if I’m an employer do I want to pay one person 75 dollars and hour to code as well as a designer, or do I want to spend 60-75 dollars an hour on a person who can do both?

    It is certainly not a requirement but it behooves you in our growing market to learn the tools of the trades. Those who aren’t willing to think outside of the box, will end up in one ;).

    • Yep. Same thing has happened to me. Oddly enough while in the middle of writing this post I had to explain to someone that in order to use an image on a web page that image would need to be hosted somewhere online. It was a foreign concept.

      In the draft for this post I described the incident to make the case about communication, but decided not to at the last minute.

      Definitely not a requirement to be the greatest developer in the world, but knowing something about how websites are built can only help web designers.

  7. I agree with Elliot. It’s insane that in this supposedly maturing industry there are designers out there working in large agencies that still can’t code up their own designs.

    if you can’t code the design. How do you know the design is possible? A design is; by definition – a marriage of form and function. Therefore if you do not implicitly understand that marriage – how can you even consider yourself a designer?

    WIth regards the points raised by Hutch here; designers that write bad front-end code – or code that doesn’t take into account the specification of nuances in the back-end solution can be a hinderance rather than a help, sure – I understand where he’s coming from. But surely these are issues of communication and quality control.

    Perhaps the idea of quality is really what this article is about? Or at least is another way to ask the same question… “Should a ‘great’ web designer know how to code?”

    Personally – with over a decade of agency experience at senior head of creative level; I’ve never (nor would I expect to) come across what I’d term a ‘web-design virtuoso’ that didn’t know how to re-create their creation in HTML/CSS.

    A designer without HTML build skills is NOT a web designer. A designer? Maybe – probably. Of websites? Perhaps; Can they be considered good at it? No. They’re dabbling – dipping their toes in the water. Imagine a architect that didn’t understand how to design a load bearing structure. Would you commission them to build your house? How about a chef that didn’t understand how to prepare shell-fish? Sound like a meal you’d like to attend?

    Seminal designer @paulrand tweeted recently: Being a designer is easy, being good at it is the hard part.

    • I can understand how a web designer won’t code in a larger industry. That really comes down to specialization typically being more productive. I still think those designers should know how to code, but I don’t have a problem with them not doing development work on each project.

      Good point about the article being titled Should a great web designer know how to code? In that case I think the answer is absolutely yes. I was trying to make the point that the way to greatness would have coding in there without explicitly saying it.

      Much of my reasoning for thinking designers should code is simply that it will make them better web designers. That alone is enough for me to learn more.

    • Same here. I can almost always tell at a glance too. And I agree it can be frustrating. What’s most interesting is these designs from non-coders aren’t any more groundbreaking. Most still tend to look very much alike.

  8. I agree. “Web” design implies knowledge of that medium. One issue with the article…coding does not always = programming. HRML and CSS aren’t programming languages, and aren’t programming.

  9. My 2 cents.
    I have a rudimentary knowledge of programming code, and a fairly decent level of experience in the various coding requirements for web. After working with people who know nothing about web and bring me approved by client final files which are all based around lovely text all formatted to curves almost drove me insane.
    Having to tell the client that no, the approved design can’t be done how the creative designed it is not fun.
    Knowing that something is totally impossible in coding does help make for a better solution to the clients needs.

    Also, keeping in mind how the design/code/SEO/SEM and all the rest tie together can make for a better project/campaign solution rather than just a nice looking website.

    • True about the SEO/SEM connection. I don’t even think I mentioned that here, but it certainly applies.

      When I get the designs with all the text formatted curves and other things that might drive me crazy I take it in part as a challenge, but also let the designer or client know that it will cost more to develop and that some parts of the design that really should be rendered as text are going to have to be an image.

      Sometimes it’s funny how when you bring up price and how it will cost more for something, that something is no longer as important as it had been. :)

  10. I am a web designer and have created a lot of websites. Do I know code by heart NO! and don’t want too! I don’t think it is necessary to learn it, it may be good in some instances to know the backend coding to fix something here and there. I think its a complete waste of time coding an entire website. If I was to complete the design and the coding I surely would charge a large amount for all that work.

    The important thing about a website is of course the design, making sure you don’t have too many w3c errors (easily fixable with a little tweaking) and SEO to be seen. Done.

    • Madeline I agree it’s not necessary and I don’t think you have to know all the code by heart. Still knowing how even if not perfectly only helps.

      You mention making sure you don’t have too many w3c errors. You have to know something about code to make that happen. Similar when it comes to SEO.

      Need to? No. Should. Yeah.

  11. As a developer I’ve worked a lot with different designers who both had (basic) HTML+CSS knowledge and no knowledge at all.

    I do agree with the designers that they need to be free in their work and not be bound to what they know about coding, but I hate to see designs which basically are A4′s (for printing) turned 90deg.

    I would say: designers SHOULD have basic knowledge of HTML and CSS (and browsers in general) to at least know that some thing really ain’t gonna work.

    On the other hand; developers SHOULD have some basic design knowledge, although I have no idea how that works (since design is creativity).

    • Johan I think developers can gain an understanding of basic design. You might not have the same creative chops, but it’s not too difficult to understand a concepts like focal points and flow and to understand that through use of elements of different visual weights a design can bring people into a design at one spot and then control where there eye flows around the page.

      A developer can understand those principles without actually being able to create the design. You could though learn to see different design principles in someone else’s work.

      I think the ideas in this post really work both ways. If developers understand what designers do more they could understand where a designer might think something very important to a design even if it does mean extra work for the developer to make happen.

    • Like I said to Johan above I think it works both ways. I don’t think a developer needs to be able to create designs, but I think they should learn what they can of design principles. If only for the better communication or the greater understanding in general it’s worth it.

      This post focused on designers understanding development, but it could just as easily be about developers understanding design with most of the same arguments made.

  12. Should web designers know how to code…my question is should the same articles keep appearing in the smashing network rebranded from a different site.

    If you are a web designer who can’t code my guess is you are few steps away from being a really good web designer. If you are a great graphic designer, cool…you just need someone else to code your site for the web.

    My suggestion is this, let’s abolish the term web designer, then we won’t need to have this debate anymore!

    • Asher the Smashing Network connection was pure coincidence. I couldn’t even tell you all the sites that are part of the network and pretty much all the posts in my feedreader have been there for a long time. Just saw some other people talking about this and wanted to add my thoughts. I was going to post something when Elliot tweeted back in January, but didn’t get around to it at the time and thought I would this time.

      If we abolish the term web designer what should we call ourselves? Sooner or later someone is going to want to know what we do and we’ll need to say something.

  13. If you don’t know the basics, you shouldn’t be designing websites.

    You don’t have to know the ins and outs of CSS, but you should at least know things like standard page sizes, or resolutions, or what file type is best for your developer.

    A friend of mine, a great graphic designer, wanted me to code a design he’d created. He sent me the files in InDesign, which required me to pretty much re-create everything he’d done before I could really do anything else. That’s someone who shouldn’t be doing websites.

    • Yep InDesign is a good example. Great program for graphic design, not so great if your design is meant for the web. Imagine how much extra you would have needed to charge if this was for a client and not your friend.

  14. You are so right I agree with what you said if just don’t know what the heck is a css file or the minimum require to design q basic site you should not design websites instead change careers …. is like asking does a car needs 4 tires to run……

  15. Well, a web designer should know HTML, CSS and jQuery. But the most important are the HTML and CSS. It’s not so hard, and within a month you can master these if you keep practicing.

    It helps for getting more from your clients :)

    • I didn’t think they were hard to learn either, but in all fairness html and css aren’t the same kind of skills as those you use to create a visual design. Not an excuse for not learning something about how sites are developed, but I think it’s a valid reason why a designer might not develop all their sites in practice.

  16. hi,
    Thanks for the details.
    it is very necessary that the web designers should be able to code their designs .
    it is really one the basic requirement of web designers.
    So as to developed an excellent web site…

  17. Great article and I completely agree. If the designer knows how to implement their designs – even if it’s not their job – it save a lot in the long run as designs may need to be altered after the developers see it. At a minimum, developers should have some input into the design before the client ever sees it.

    • I think it only makes sense that web designers know how to code since everything they do is ending up coded as a web page. Seems like understanding all you can about how your designs are developed would be good to know.

  18. You don’t have to be expert etc in HTML, CSS, Javascript or JQuery but you should at least know things like standard page sizes, or resolutions, or what file type is best for your developer.

  19. I think the reason for web designers not knowing to code is the ease of tools that are available in the market which makes the development process a piece of cake so even a new comer who doesn’t even know the knowledge of programming can become a designer.

    • I wouldn’t say it’s the reason, but I’m sure it’s a reason. However, I also think that just because a tool can do something, it’s still a good idea to take the time to understand what’s it’s doing.

      When you can do something without a tool, you’re best equipped to use that tool. When you can’t do something without a tool, you’re at the mercy of that tool.

  20. I couldn’t disagree more – our team has designers and developers working together during the design and development of a project.

    None of our designers could build a website…but, they do understand how it all works…screen resolution, fonts, image optimisation. Also importantly, usability.

    What is really critical in our team is collaboration at all stages – during design, developers get involved to make sure they can build what is being designed and that what is being designed will make sense…during development, designers make sure that what is being developed matches the original purpose/goal of the design.

    I do understand everyones point that it is nice if designers can build with HTML and CSS, even javascript…understanding is more important than the actual skill.

    :) Looking forward to responses.

    • I’m not really sure where our disagreement is. I thought I made it clear that I don’t think it’s necessary for designers to code. I agree that when there’s a team in place the most important thing is communication between team members.

      I think at a minimum designers do need to understand something about the medium they’re working in so understanding resolutions, etc are important.

      What I’m mainly suggesting in this post is that a web designer who can build his or her designs and code working web pages is more valuable than one who can’t. I think it makes that person a better web designer.

      I will disagree with your last point. The actual skill leads to a greater understanding. It’s one thing to read or hear something and another to actually attempt to solve the problem. You do get a greater understanding in doing than you do from knowledge alone.

    • I don’t like saying too many things are necessary, since you can almost always find a few exceptions, which by definition mean the thing wasn’t necessary.

      Very helpful though for designers to know how to code or at least understand something of the development process.

  21. Sure we must know how to develop the design in lower levels before the visual result. Anyway, surpreises are welcome in programming & design interactions.
    I made my site, by programing in AS2, but its very simple. BUT, if I have no idea how to do it, nobody would make it for me but for a huge price… and even like this, I doubt about the results.

    • I agree about knowing how to code. I don’t think every designer needs to be the most expert coder, but it only makes sense for designers to gain understanding of how their designs will be built.

  22. For me, no one in the industry can know too much. I do a lot of development work, but I also read books on in Interaction Design, Visual Design.

    For me the argument is less about tech/design and more about we all need to grow up an know more about the industry we work in.

    Why should designers know more about dev than dev know about design?

    Put like that it muse sound like nonsense?

    Ed

    • Great point. I think no matter what industry you’re in there’s always more to know and I would think we’d all want to do what we can to keep learning to do things better.

      I agree the issue is less tech/design and more about growing in general. The idea came to me after reading another post specifically about design and given the topic of this blog that was the natural way to frame the discussion. You’re right though it’s really a more general argument for striving to be better.

  23. This is a old article but I felt the need to comment because I find it very relevant to myself.

    Coming from the graphic design route, I never had much of a need for coding until I realised that I was particularly good at coming up with website designs and that it is possibly the thing I most enjoy. As a self-taught professional (100% self-taught, I went to University for two years but for a different subject before following the design dream as I should have!), I’ve realised that the best way for me to develop further is to learn how to code effectively.

    Thankfully, my stepdad is a Web Developer so I shan’t be doing it alone, but I think a large reason why people tend not to be able to code is because learning how to code is, for some, a very big task. I pick up things very quickly, but learning the ins-and-outs of the web and coding languages is… well, incredibly complicated and long-winded. Some just don’t have the time, with other commitments. I’ll make the most of my complete youth while it lasts though!

    • Old, but relevant works. :)

      I completely agree that learning to code is a big task. Like I mentioned in the post I don’t think people absolutely need to code if they want to be web designers. There are going to be people who code, but aren’t skilled graphic designers. Odds are in the future we’ll see more specialization too.

      Still I think designers should want to learn some code (and developers should want to learn some design) in order to be better at what they do.

      Sounds like you’re already on your way there.

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