Posted about 2 years ago
tlnt.co/p/14T

Modern web designers are almost assumed to have some knowledge of HTML and CSS code.

I would argue that HTML/CSS is inextricable linked to design nowadays. I know several designs that only touch Photoshop to design icons. Everything else, even the mockups are done in HTML/CSS.

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Comments

Anotherme1_thumb
John Wood

I wonder though - are we excluding a large number of talented designers and artists by pushing so hard for CSS-centric websites? There are no WYSIWYG editors for CSS that I've come across, so knowing code is essential. But then, doesn't this become a barrier to entry? Will the quality of websites suffer as a result?

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 0 likes  
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Paul Giberson

tl;dr

I could make an argument either way (knowing a lot of html/css vs knowing 0 html/css), both of which I think are valid.

I have no issues with a designer that knows nothing of what I do on the front end and hands me an ambitious layout to turn into html/css. However, once they start to draw concern with how I have to modify that design to accommodate the realities of html/css then I would argue that they need to understand html/css to a certain degree.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 1 likes  
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Jared Brown

Paul, you put it best. I completely agree. If they won't learn CSS/HTML then they need to understand there will be a translation of their design into those technologies that won't often be 100%.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 0 likes  
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Phil Oliver

Every artist in history has had to work within the physical constraints of a medium, whether oil painting+canvas, watercolor layering, chiseling marble, etc. A fundamental difference here is that the web is a dynamic medium, but it is still a medium with certain characteristics that a successful artist (designer) has to understand in order to work with. If they cannot keep up with the times by dealing with the medium at hand - by learning HTML and CSS not at a "just get by" level, but at the level of complete mastery and expertise, commensurate with their supposed professionalism - they should be doing something else than web development.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 0 likes  
Jared_gaze_thumb
Jared Brown

I prefer working with designers who know and therefore design with CSS and HTML in mind or even better, in it. I think the designs work better and there are intangibles like cleaner designs and better spacing that result. But I can respect a designer who's medium is purely bits (photoshop, fireworks, etc.)

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 0 likes  
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Melanie Archer

I've worked with some people who claimed full competence in both design and HTML/CSS. Unfortunately, their claims went unsubstantiated--both the visual and markup aspects of their work were not as high quality as that produced by specialists.

There are people who can do both with incredible skill, but they're speaking at conferences, writing books, or working as Creative Director at Twitter.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 1 likes  
Anotherme1_thumb
John Wood

So how would you guys differentiate designers who specialize in actual art design, and those who specialize in HTML/CSS? Can you really call them both designers, if they're not likely to be specialists in both areas?

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 0 likes  
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Jared Brown

@Melanie - I agree, the ones who can do both are at the top of the industry (for good reason). But that doesn't mean you can't work with them.

@John - I think web design and frontend development go hand in hand. Logo design is artistic design that can be purely art. But I think web design has many facets and having an artistic eye is required, but it's not the only requirement.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 1 likes  
Anotherme1_thumb
John Wood

Jared - I do agree they should go hand in hand ideally. But I once met a designer who was a marketing genius and understood layout not simply from an artistic perspective but also from a psychological perspective. They could tell me exactly where things should go, how interactions should work, and why that would be optimal from a usability perspective - but they didn't know any HTML, CSS or JS themselves. Now, I thought to myself, if there was a good WYSIWYG editor out there, it would a) save me a lot of time trying to translate their ideas into CSS, and b) this person would be able to share their expertise far more than they can now. But the complexity of layout in CSS right now makes having a decent WYSIWYG editor next to impossible. Perhaps the CSS grid layout will help with that... but there just seems to be an unnecessary disconnect right now...

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 1 likes  
Jared_gaze_thumb
Jared Brown

@John - That's a good example of a good designer who doesn't know HTML/CSS. Though I would argue that CSS/HTML isn't too complicated. True, this is coming from a programmer, but hear me out. HTML/CSS is less complicated than doing design on iOS. It's easier than Android. It's pretty much the model that the other UI languages take from and where things are converging. The ideas of classes and styles exist in Word even (not that Word took that concept from CSS, but it is a common concept). I think it's hard to do great web design without a keen understanding of the web and how the frontend is developed. It's not impossible to find a great designer who can't do frontend dev, but I'd wager there are fewer of them out there than there are frontend devs who can design really well. A few years ago I would never have made that bet, but I think the pendulum has swung.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 0 likes  
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Paul Giberson

Think of it like this, it's 2012, there was a time that "front-end" was HTML/CSS and knowing JS was the bonus, now it's basically a requirement. The same can probably be thought of in regards to web designers, times have changed and knowing HTML/CSS is basically required.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 1 likes  
Jared_gaze_thumb
Jared Brown

Paul, I completely agree. The two types of designers who I work with that I don't think need to know frontend dev are illustrators and logo designers. But a web designer needs the knowledge. It is incredible to talk about font-face and TypeKit with a designer who understands that custom fonts should be used sparingly and the need for a stock, default font. It's great to get a CSS3 button from a designer or even a whole CSS3 UI library upon completion of your project with an auto-generated style-guide. These are the things that will save you so much time and are what I look for in a designer. Getting a PSD and slicing it up is an older way of having to do it IMHO.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 1 likes  
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Gary Davis

When I was a design student back in the early 80's, my fellow students and I would humorously note that designers tended to draw curves based on the templates (ships curves) they owned. Later when computers became the norm, drop-shadows started to appear on everything because they became easy to do.

My point is, the media and the tools do affect the design and while I agree designers need to understand the limitations of the media, they also need to stretch it beyond their abilities and be free to push the boundaries.

As a designer who can write pretty good code, I am not as skilled as a great developer. If I let my limited knowledge of what can be done limit my thinking, I will never propose the next great thing. It's better to propose something that cannot be done, then find someone who can do it anyway.

Its a difficult line to walk but I think a great designer with no coding chops working with a top notch developer up to a challenge is the most likely scenario for creating innovation. There are a lot of developers with some design sense and a lot of designers with coding talent but few that have both skills to the max. They are not mutually exclusive but the opposite end of a spectrum.

about 2 years ago   Like_icon 3 likes  

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