Response: Should Web Designers Know How to Code?

Martin Ringlein of n’clud recently wrote a post called
“Should Web Designers Know How to Code?”:

All designers must know the medium and canvas in which they design for. How can a sculptor sculpt without knowing the difference in stones? How can a painter paint without knowing the difference in brushes, paint or canvas? How can a print designer create without knowing about the printing process, types of paper stock or difference between CMYK and RGB? And how can a web designer design without knowing how to code, or at least how the code works? The important aspect to mention is that a web designer must know how to code, but doesn’t need to or have to actually code.

I started to write a comment and realized I really had a blog post…

I find myself smack in the middle of this debate all too often and I can’t agree with Martin more. I especially disagree with the argument “that designers who code will let that knowledge limit their design “. Thats a load of crap and a poor excuse. Since I have learned CSS and HTML it has allowed me to see the big picture, understanding the limitations puts me in the position to think of new ways to push the boundaries. Some important advantages of knowing HTMLand CSS as a designer (in addition to the ones that Martin has listed) are:

Being able to estimate budgets and timelines more effectively. A designer who understands how much work it will take a developer to execute their design can more effectively design within budget constraints.

Cutting corners on load time. The first time I shaved several seconds off of a site for replacing image based navigation with one that utilized system fonts felt great. The satisfaction of knowing the user was not going to have to wait a few seconds longer was a release on that anal retentive print mentality that it had to be that very specific font.

Appreciation for Bad Asses. Its one thing to be a killer designer but its another to be a bad ass. My biggest “AHA! moment” came when I experienced the site of a developer who was just as innovative in his use of javascript as he was in his use of beautiful swiss typography. There is a creativity in development that you can not understand until you learn it and it will change the way you look at the web. Don’t miss out.

Remember designers; a Photoshop document is not your canvas. A PSD file will do nothing on the internet but take a really long time to download.

Disagree? I would love to hear opposing opinions… I know they are out there.


  1. — November 27, 2007

  2. — November 27, 2007

  3. — November 27, 2007

  4. — November 27, 2007

  5. — December 3, 2007

  6. — December 10, 2007

  7. — February 2, 2008

  8. — April 28, 2008