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Can't code Won't code!

Hi All

I wanted to hopefully generate a lot of responses to this thread to see if what i'm looking in a web design job, does actually exist out there by hearing from other peoples experiences.

I'm on the look out for a web design job where a company needs designers to just come up with the "look and feel'' interface designs/ concepts, but doesn't require that same designer person to have the knowledge to code their designs as well..
i'm pretty sure that pure web interface/designer roles do exist, but i'm finding them hard to come by and few and far between judging from my own personal job search experience...Has anyone else experienced the same when looking for web design roles?

It just seems that every web design job i see nowdays expects designers to be able to code as well as design in order to get the job, which seems unfair because its not like web developers are expected to be able to design is it???

My issue is ive followed a few online tutorials about coding up a PSD design into a html/css workable site, and i've found that not only do i find these tutorials hard to follow and frustruting but also very dull and boring. i'd rather leave the coding of my designs to someone who knows what they are doing and more so someone who enjos doing this stuff, id rather concentrate on becoming a better interface designer than worry about technical code, code doesnt interest me in the slightest bit and i dont't think this view will change.

So even though i would like to focus on designing purly website interfaces, can i still condider myself a website designer??

Your thoughts please..........


Senior Member
My thoughts on this matter are that these jobs are out there, and alot of people have them, finding them is more difficult but that is also due to the difficulties with finding ANY design jobs at the mo.

Other options obviously include freelancing where you either just complete the design process or you take the whole project and outsource the coding side.

A lot of web design jobs you might take would expect a very basic yet proficient knowledge of the coding because that allows for a greater ability to design. Knowing what will be done to your designs is alot better than not knowing.

Hope you are able to find what you are after. :)

Maybe branching out to graphic design will help you though (that way you can offer alot more types of design)


Staff member
Consecca said:
So even though i would like to focus on designing purly website interfaces, can i still condider myself a website designer??
Not in my opinion, if you can't do basic code then you're no different than a normal graphic/interface designer. Any graphic designer worth their salt can do a website layout.

As to your situation, look at it from an employers perspective, why would a web design company hire someone who can only make thing's look pretty when a new graduate in web design (or whatever it's called nowadays) can do the design and coding of a site. They would also likely cost less to hire.

In todays market it makes no financial sense for a web company to hire what is essentially a one trick pony (no offence intended).

I would agree with rennicks in that it would be more advisable to expand into graphic design than trying to focus on web layouts as it will ultimately be made redundant by the all in one designer/coder.
ok thanks for the above posts/replys, in that case how much code languages do you feel is nessary to learn, before you can confidently advertise yourself as a web designer or have a realistic chance of working for a web design company?.......I mean, is knowing XHTML & CSS to build your web designs enough? or would you say you have to know the whole hog: i.e javascript, php, MySQL as well etc....that just seems a hell of a lot of learning to get your head around, it baffles me how any designer could know all this stuff.


I would try to learn: CSS, HTML (XHTML), Javascript and PHP (and if you're feeling fruity a bit of ActionScript) :)


Senior Member
I personally feel javascript & php are not necessary pieces of a web designers repertoire, yet knowing their capabilities and limitations would be.

CSS & HTML however I feel should be known.


Staff member
the latest versions of css and html (iirc thats 3 and 5 respectively) are a given, I'd also also say you need to have something in your box of tricks to make you stand out so php, javascript, asp or similar should be considered
Hi Consecca,

There are jobs out there for pure interface design, but unless you're a top super elite uber designer they will be hard to come by. As Renniks also mentioned, a greater knowledge of coding will enable you to design more effectively for the web. You will also be more attractive to employers if you can do both.

You should definitely learn CSS and XHTML. I don't think being able to write PHP and Javascript is so neccessary (at least where I work the backend developers does all that stuff), but you should at least know what it is, and how to implement JS and jQuery on a site. I'd also start having a look at Content Managent Systems as you will be using them a lot in many Web Design roles. I would also recommend learning a bit of basic Flash. Some places you'll be doing animated banners etc. as well as websites.

Hope that helps!



Senior Member
Levi said:
the latest versions of css and html (iirc thats 3 and 5 respectively) are a given, I'd also also say you need to have something in your box of tricks to make you stand out so php, javascript, asp or similar should be considered
It's 2.1 and 4, actually :p


Active Member
Their was a job going near me which if I took it would mean an actual pay cut but they wanted a designer who knew XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, AJAX and MySQL for a measy £14k. Now they will get what they pay for TBH but I definitely wouldn't take a pay cut to do that, that and I currently only work 5 months of the year, get paid for 12, sorry had to get it in. :D

But I would stick to your strengths.

For example I can code, I wouldn't want to learn how to design properly using grids and other far out there terms created by some way out there designers, I mean please I'm a geek!

IMO just go for a graphic design job if you find coding hard, do what you love not what you hate and if you hate learning it, and there is a lot to learn, then you wont put your heart into it and it will show.

My advise coming from a few recent clients who have the designers to design the site and give it to the geek to code them, look into graphic design, PR and ad companies who also create on-line sites for their clients, not nesercarily web design companies. They split their teams up as it's much more efficient and will be more specalized to your kind of skill set.

But if you don't like coding I wouldn't bother learning it TBH, I'm not going to be taking a graphic design coarse any time soon, I would give up as it would bore the hell out of me, too much sunshine and socialising as well TBF that and how I dress they wouldn't let me in anyway. :(

When did brown and beige with slacks go out anyway?
You'll know the answer to that wont you Chris? :D
Website design is more than just applying graphic design principles onto a web sized PSD. A good website design is two things, the visual aesthetics (look and feel), and the interactivity/usability/navigation. If you don't know HTML/CSS I'd imagine it's very difficult to make design decisions concerning the second point.

It's possible for a website to look good but be a nightmare for users to use and they'll turn away pretty quickly. It's a web designers job to make these usability decisions, and if you haven't learn HTML/CSS it's very likely you haven't thought about much else either.

That doesn't necessarily mean you have to be any good at coding and there is nothing wrong with having someone else do the actual development, but it does show a potential boss that you do know there is more than aesthetics to a good web design.


Senior Member
When it comes down to it, a web designer with no knowledge of coding is pretty useless! Sorry to be blunt.

I have a very basic understanding of the realms of HTML CSS, nothing compared to Harry or Jazz, but enough that I can do a website layout that isnt a living nightmare for the coders!

This is my point, not knowing anything can create problems at the next stage, some knowledge/understanding is genuinely a must.


Active Member
mrp2049 said:
This is my point, not knowing anything can create problems at the next stage, some knowledge/understanding is genuinely a must.
Agree with this, in the same light if a graphic designer with poor knowledge of print was asked to design a brochure, there's a number of pitfalls from file prep to final checks, to just good working practice.

In the same way, I agree that a web designer should have some basic knowledge of CSS/HTML, whilst it's good to have some creativity to break away from standard web layouts, there also needs to be a measure of reality in what can be acheived and work effectively as a coded site. On top of that some knowledge of SEO and how search engines read content is a benefit in the majority of cases, there's very few websites/businesses that can afford to ignore the traditional search traffic.

In answer to the OP, these positions exist, I would strongly recommend some knowledge of HTML/CSS, you can pick up the basics pretty quickly, especially after seeing a few of your own designs being coded into working sites. Once you have that knowledge/experience you can develop into the more specialized front-end design roles such as user experience designer, also known as user interface, where your time is spent working on the user journey, wire framing, and generally analyzing and improving the experience for the end user.

Have you had any of your designs coded by a developer? A good starting point would be a personal project/portfolio, then you can try and be involved in all the stages from PSD > HTML/CSS, I'm sure any decent developer would be happy to discuss the stages as they happen to help you on that path. The other technique is simply viewing the page source of sites (developers own sites usually make good examples for good code) for example Harry's site CSS Wizardry should be pretty neatly coded :)



Senior Member
not knowing anything can create problems at the next stage, some knowledge/understanding is genuinely a must.
I second mrp2049 and Greg on this one - from experience of starting out where you are (graphics but no code) its an awkward route from psd'ing/illustrator-ing to coding. I it's likely that whoever is coding will require tweaks, they would also be entitled to the mostpart of the pay for the job, and theyre truly the ones who can put their name to it in the end.

Then, when something goes wrong, you'd better hope that coder is still around!

It sounds daunting to be told you have to learn literally 4-5 languages before you can call yourself a website designer. Im only halfway through with my knowledge of HTML/CSS, and whilst you could be picking up paid jobs, you're looking at a good long time studying these languages - which can be frustrating.

If time is of the essence you can give yourself 'crash courses' in certain aspects of other languages that you're going to need to use, by first deciding what it is exactly you want to focus on (eg styling a form using css, or integrating a little bit of premade php for it) finding articles and following a tutorial or 2 - even if a plugin is right there for you. You'll find that way you sort of build yourself a course step by step as you work, and you can at least be confident that you have 'prepared the building blocks' properly for more advanced parts of your project, and you wont need to redo, and redo it to accommodate for something you've not learned or done any research on.

In conclusion - from someone who not so long ago was in exactly your position - at the very least you do need to know the principles of HTML/CSS to claim you can design a website layout, and actually know your way around those languages to call yourself a 'junior' website designer, including being able to test and code for all major browsers. Otherwise you'll end up lumped with projects that are taking too long, your coder (quite rightfully, but still frustratingly) taking too high a percentage of the pay, and generally being put off the whole concept of coding.

I currently only work 5 months of the year, get paid for 12,
@jaz: me too before i quit my last job .. im glad this industry pays off in the end :D thatd be very interesting actually - and maybe for the thread starter too - would any of the more knowledgeable people here (everyone..) be okay to tell me how they learned all the major languages? And in what order? How long did it take?

See, im learning just through experience. Its good, but sometimes feel if I'd have gone to uni instead of jumping into my first job as something totally different, or at least picked up and dedicated myself to one textbook, id be more confident.. also maybe id learn quicker.. im not sure..


Active Member
I currently work with EBD teenagers (Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties) so we get a lot of kids who have just come out of Juvi or if thier placement with us breaks down they may head there, a few London gang kids who think they are dogs boll**ks, kids who beat their parents up that sort of thing. So it can be really challenging I mean I had 5 of them kick off the other night, didn't even get my paperwork finished till 5am and they packed it in at 2am after a restraint, which I'm qualified to do before ppl think jease what do you do to them and it was legally justified.

Anyhoo I get 5 months off and then my manager doesn't mind me coding at work as well, that way he knows I'm not sleeping, so get 8hours of just pure peace and quiet, that and sky tv, free food from the kitchen, internet access so it works out brilliantly with free lancing, which tops my wages up more than what I would get from a full time 9-5 programmers job working you know every week, he, he. :D In fact I think the job that would tare me away from where I am now if it was monday - friday 9-5 would have to offer a pay increase of £20k upwards at least, can't see why i would want to give up my job, amazing hours, 7 on 7 off, 32 days holiday on top, so 1 week hol equals 3 weeks off, time to code, amazing friends, recession proof and the kids are really great when you get to know them and they realize they can't push you about, in fact I love it.

Anyway about 2 years back I thought you know what why not teach myself something I have all this time, so I started with CSS and XHTML, then when I got hacked moved to security and PHP, then decided I should get everything running faster so moved to performance, then to SEO, then to accessibility, then to CMS coding and then finally to usability.

So yeah thats how I ended up were I am right now.

I would say that over the last 8 months or so my confidence has come on loads and I can relate, the more clients you get the more that will disappear I find TBH, but your coming on loads I wouldn't worry about it you do pick things up quite quick sweets. :)


:eek: bloody hell Jaz

You know at the DF conference you could just talk about your work life would be just as amazing :p :lol:


Active Member
O it is we had this 1 kid, real bad apple assaulted me in a messed up restraint, as he was wasted and on drugs 1 of the few we had to call the police out to, and it then took 2 coppers and 2 of us to get the cuffs on, it was mad the strength drugs can give ppl, as we challenge the kids when they challenge us not let them push us about you know.

Anyway it took him 6 months give or take to going from a London "gangster" who carried knifes and thought benefits where the only way of living and working was a mugs game to living semi-independent qualifying to be a plumber and saying I never want to go back, we have loads of kids like that and it is such a good feeling you know thats probably why I love my job so much TBF.

But would love to. :D

So what about you Chris?


Me? nothing that spectacular mate.. I code and design as I have learnt to adapt to the changing tides of the industry..

and as for spoken languages.. I learnt some Maori and Samoan while in New Zealand... and thats about it :lol: