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Web Designers who CAN'T code..

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by Renniks, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. Renniks

    Renniks Senior Member

    So on twitter lately there has been a large uproar among the web design / developer community over whether or not web designers should be able to code....

    Elliot Jay Stocks twittered yesterday morning : Twitter / Elliot Jay Stocks: Honestly, I'm shocked that ...

    "Honestly, I'm shocked that in 2010 I'm still coming across 'web designers' who can't code their own designs. No excuse." - 9:46 AM Feb 17th from Tweetie

    It got 41 retweets so far so is a popular belief aswell as getting many articles on the matter, but I was after your opinions?

    Should web designers be able to code? And at what level?

    In my opinion
    A web designer who can not use HTML & CSS will not have the same understanding of the medium as a web designer who can, even if they choose not to (and to outsource their designs). While there may be many successful and brilliant web designers who don't know how, It would only serve to benefit their designing to understand it. And allow them to build on their web designs as they keep up to date with latest trends and changes to the medium itself and the coding abilities.
  2. ralphsaunders

    ralphsaunders Senior Member

    I think you should have some basic understanding of code. No javascript but HTML and CSS yeah. When you learn how to code it changes the way you design for the web in quite a big way. You get a better idea of the web and the way it works when you understand HTML and CSS anyway, which is beneficial in the long run.
  3. guru24

    guru24 Member

    There is nothing wrong with web designers who cannot code, provided they work with someone who can.

    They also need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the medium and while they are much more likely to if they can code for the web, it should not be prerequisite.

    Having said that, my experience of designers who can't code is really bad. In most cases: time and money wasted, results compromised.

    What is a 'web designer' anyway? You need a broad spectrum of skills in order to create a successful web site and few people can cover anywhere near the full skillset to a suitably high level. To me, 'Web designer' suggests the creative/artwork element of the process, but the term is widely misused (or misunderstood).
  4. mrp2049

    mrp2049 Senior Member

    I can't code for toffee! Ok, change that, I have a vague understanding, but that doesn't change my ability to design something. A well organised grid is a well organised grid!.
  5. openmind

    openmind Senior Member

    I think it's also important to make a distinction between web designers, web developers and graphic designers.

    I know plenty og graphic designers who are fantastic at coming up with the layouts, graphics etc but don't know how to code.

    Likewise, a web designer should be a bridge between graphic and web developer. They should know how to code but not be expected to have the skillset of the graphic designer/web developer combined.

    Finally the web developer is the geek who messes with the server side code. They make things happen behind the scenes.

    I personally fall into that third category. I know xhtml and css but my strength is in ColdFusion coding. My graphic design talents are nil :)
  6. Renniks

    Renniks Senior Member

    I agree there is nothing wrong with them ;) but I feel that understanding the medium fully would take a moderate understanding of the markup being used, whether that is an actual knowledge of the markup or not is realistically another matter. However with the ease of learning HTML & CSS I find it odd someone might not be able to if they understand it.

    So you have a vague understanding, and hence fall in to the category of someone who 'could' but doesn't.... A well organised grid maybe just that, but knowing the current limitations of the web would in no way harm your designs, probably increase them, alot of people on twitter and blogs in this discussion who have learnt HTML & CSS second to beginning web design have mentioned it liberating and giving them more options as it is no longer what someone has told them they can and cannot do... It is no different in my opinion to knowing the printing techniques for tshirts, While I can design a tshirt, I imagine your results would be alot better, no matter on our designing talent.

    Indeed I agree, Graphic designers 'can' create layouts and graphics, however I would hazard a guess this would not be their main line of work and like the reasoning above, they would be better at creating something they understood more about the medium.

    While there is a lot to learn with web creating(?!) I feel that because of the general earliness of the craft that it is often seen as different to the amount needed to design for other mediums.

    I agree also with the distinctions and that there are plenty of just web developers who are code monkeys, but I imagine the number who just deal with HTML & CSS is very limited, especially if they do not have any design understanding...
  7. Harry

    Harry Senior Member

    I worked with a designer who I wouldn't want to code a single thing—his code was shocking—and I was nothing of a designer compared to him. However, the fact he could code a little meant that when projects got handed over he'd designed them in such a way that I could code them. Not all web designers should code, but they should at least understand how to.
  8. Renniks

    Renniks Senior Member

    Quoted for true summary ^_^
  9. Kevin

    Kevin Senior Member

    I retweeted Stocks yesterday :)
    And I agree that as a web designer you should be able to code (and preferably by hand) your own sites. If you click through a couple CSS-galleries you'll see tons and tons of freelancers, and I think that a freelancer should know good HTML and CSS because in the end they're on their own. But if you take a look behind some of those portfolios it really makes me wonder what they think they're doing.

    On a slightly related subject. A lot of the sites on these galleries are actually from less than capable designers. And then they go for the minimalist design. I don't mind minimalist designs, they can really be good. But often it's used as an excuse for their lack of expertise and they just say that they want their work to speak for itself. Well guess what, your work says you suck!
  10. mike_watts

    mike_watts Member

    The distinction between a graphic designer, web designer and web developer is a very good one pointed out by openmind.

    Web designers should definately be expected to code their own sites with css, html, javascript, php or whatever and also be able to design a nice looking site, they also need to know a little bit about user experience, usability, accessability, design architecture, database design, SEO all those things that a moderately sized site needs.

    Some clients dont have the budget to employ a person for each of these disciplines so a 'jack of all trades'/web designer is more economic to use.
  11. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    I think a web designer should atleast know how a site works even if they can't code it all. Ideally they should know all the base areas, such as html, css, seo, usability etc but I'm not sure they should know about php/javascript in as much detail. There is a huge amount of options within javascript and php and if you know all that as a webdesigner you are starting to enter into being a web developer in my eyes (not a bad thing obviously).
  12. Kevin

    Kevin Senior Member

    Going to add my own personal quote here...
    "Being a front-end developer is a crucial part of being a competent web designer."
  13. Renniks

    Renniks Senior Member

    I feel that while I agree, people will disagree and give examples proving it wrong. Also it isn't to do with being a front end developer, it is just knowing enough about it that is important, and hence the easiest way to know enough is by knowing some of the markup
  14. Digital Naga

    Digital Naga Member

    I am a print designer and i have to know how the printing process works and what to do and what not to do, (overprinting, trapping, bleed and trim marks, creep, imposition, GCR, UCR, ink densities) so I can then feel confident that when I pass my designs on to a printer the results will turn out how I expected them too. Have a dialog with a printer who can then advise me on the more technical aspects of a specific job, and for me to understand what he is talking about, but I am not a printer.

    So shouldnt it also go that a web designer should know code and how to use code and be able to develop a design that will turn out well. But maybe isnt neccessarily the one to code the site?

    I am also moving in to web design as a friend who can code has asked me to help on the design. I am also interested in web design and feel that it is neccessary to know what I am talking about, hence the need to learn XHTML/CSS/PHP/JOOMLA/WORDPRESS etc. But in the end I dont want to be a coder, someone whos job it is to sit and piece together someone elses design doesnt appeal to me.

    So yes and no. I think a web designer needs to know code and how to use it to a fairly high level, but not everything, and does not neccessarily have to be the one to code a site. A web developer maybe?
  15. Kevin

    Kevin Senior Member

  16. Renniks

    Renniks Senior Member

  17. sevenupcan

    sevenupcan Junior Member

    Just adding my thoughts.

    I think the title or term "web designer" is very vague. A web designer 6 or 7 years ago probably could have arguably just been the person who creates the designs. But now I think most web designers want to know how to code even if it's just the HTML and CSS side of things. I think if you don't you will miss out on a lot of knowledge that is very valuable to the maturity and extent of your skills as a web designer.

    While I don't think it's required for a web designer to know PHP or JavaScript I do think that the same priciples apply. Not knowing what you can do with server-side and client-side technologies means you're likely to missout on the best way of delivering your website. The more ambitious your web page the bigger hurdle you face grapsing it with your best mind set, let alone describing how you want it to behaive to a developer or someone who has the skills you don't.

    What I'm not saying though is that you have to know everything there is to know about every other web technology out there. You just have to know enough to do your job. But the more you know the more you can be involved, if you want to be.
  18. berry

    berry Active Member

    Here's my can of worms, from my perspective.
    I run a design company and we do a lot of web and online work.( we are not a web company though )This year I aim to produce 30/40+ web projects - all CMS medium size sites. As for the last few years, all sites will be designed by creative designers not web designers. None of the guys can code and neither do I want them to code. They have to have an understanding of web, just like print, TV etc, but they have to work in tandem with our developers etc so we produce the desired agency product. Over 30 odd years I have done hundreds of TV commercials and Art Directed a zillion photo shoots - I still don't know one end of a camera from another or what an f-stop is, and neither do I want to. That doesn't stop me producing great things. What may work for me and my company may not work for others, it's how you control and manage things that matter, and I'm very comfortable in having non coders design website, it makes for a better creative product. I hate rules, wireframes and boxes. Understanding the technology and harnessing the power it has is what will determines leaders or followers. But breaking the rules and the grid will determine creativity. So it's a big fat No from me over Designers who must Code.
  19. Rhonda

    Rhonda Senior Member

    I was just an artist but I wanted to get into commercial art and web developing as well. I figured to increase my skill set, learning to code was a good idea. It seems like a very handy skill set to have anyway since these days websites all over have probably been made with JavaScript, Xhtml and CSS. My Ex is actually a web dev, and if you look at the US Census page, he's part of a team that designs it. But that site looks very technical, very functional.

    My first webpage that i had in 2003, was made using a combination of Photoshop and the old Adobe GoLive program if anyone remembers that. But I wonder how a site today can be made in Photoshop for the visual side of it, then translated into code for going on the web.
  20. Jed

    Jed Member

    My own opnion on this topic is that the general public cant tell the difference between a WEB PROGRAMMER and WEB DESIGNER. XD I see job ads all the time like this: Web Design Help - Freelance Web Design Vacancies

    In fact a lot of the web is like this. I go with the flow as is per the custom but if this little problem was addressed more throughly then it wouldnt be so bad.

    A Designer is somebody who can take a conept and transform into the appropiate visual display so portrays the idea. A web designer does the same thing for the web - however also taking in the constraints or the alternatives. It is my opnion that a working knowledge of HTML/CSS should be used to help live code any layouts and perhaps some knowledge on how certain web applications run (so solutions can be hypothesised).

    A Programmer is someone who implements website systems (CMS and other Server-Side Applications/Codings) and they are the ones to take the step of actually creating interactive solutions. answer the question a web designer should be able to code in my opinion or they are not a web specialist

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