Do web designers code? Many web designers have asked themselves the questions I do: what kind of web designer am I? Where is my web design power? In the wireframes, the workflows, the interaction? Am I going to learn how to code?
Do I have to be able to convert my designs to front-end code? Alternatively, do I continue to create layered Photoshop designs that are then converted (by someone else) to front-end code? It all boils down to… Is that an efficient workflow, or can it be different, perhaps better?
Just back in time.
Web design as a field has existed since the publication of Netscape 1.0 (Mosaic) in 1995. The design and building of an internet site have matured in the last 20 years. Back then, you made your own web pages with, for example, Microsoft FrontPage and TextEdit. DreamWeaver came later. It was pioneering… You did everything yourself, from the idea, design, to HTML.
Now? The possibilities to design and code a website have been expanded and improved. Many different web disciplines have emerged; it is no longer the case that one person provides a website. Especially not with the complex, professional websites. From Visual design, UX, CSS, from content to SEO – there is a specialist out there for every component. We also have better programs at our disposal, and best practices are readily available.
Designing and building internet solutions has indeed become a mature field but has not yet outgrown.
Many web disciplines have emerged in which the specialism is apparent from their title. The term ‘web designer,’ on the other hand, is open to multiple interpretations. For one person, a web designer only focuses on shaping the front-end (look-and-feel). For the other, someone who also converts his designs to HTML / CSS, or even the complete front-end and back-end takes care of.
Coding: yes or no?
I have often tried to make coding my own, but I can not separate the terms like class, tag, container, div, and span, let alone which parameters belong. I always trip over the steep learning curve to provide a neat and correct code.
Of course, I can quickly and quite easily put together something with some HTML and CSS. Then, I hope that it works on different devices… It’s fine for a presentation, but I will probably never be able (I think most designers do not) to deliver quality coding work. It is already a big challenge for a designer to stand out from the competition.
[su_pullquote]I am the type of web designer who has decided not to code because I want to focus on the visual presentation and/or user-friendliness of a site.[/su_pullquote]
I am the type of web designer who has decided not to code because I want to focus on visual presentation and/or user-friendliness. There is nothing wrong with that. This is called specialization.’ Honestly, from a technical perspective, programming is much more difficult; a design is beautiful or not beautiful, a typing error in the code is ‘killing’ … So you have to choose.
If you want to be a professional designer, you will have to bring out the best design skills in yourself. In most cases, this will take a lot of your time and you will have to learn new skills as well. If you are looking for a more simple solution, you can always find a reliable New York web design company that will be ready to meet all of your needs. Finally, design trends change continuously, and technical progress never stands still. Many of you are asked to keep up—more than enough to test your design qualities to the limit. Let alone if you want to (continue to) encode.
The ‘Rare guy.’
Confusion of concepts and prejudices has long played a major role in discussing whether a web designer should code or not. A designer is often seen as a ‘strange guy’ who talks vaguely about the importance of ‘colors’ and ‘fonts.’ He is certainly not considered “whole” as soon as it turns out that he can not code.
Do web designers code?
Is there a light on the horizon for designers like me? Will front-end encoding be completely WYSIWYG for a long time? As Postscript programming has long since been replaced by WYSIWYG working with Adobe Illustrator (did you know that Adobe’s Illustrator was originally developed as a viewer to view your handwritten Postscript code?!
And that you first worked in outline and could only preview ?!)). In the past, you could not go around coding (doing it yourself or hiring yourself). It was a necessary evil. But this is no longer necessary – professional drag-and-drop applications are available. As a web designer, you do not need extensive knowledge of coding anymore. With the right software, you can create beautiful, functional, and responsive websites.
As a designer, you are no longer bound to manufacture static wireframes and mockups. You can produce front-end code through drag-and-drop. You can use desktop programs like Adobe Muse and the ‘extract’ tool within Adobe Dreamweaver to take care of many front-end coding tasks. Several initiatives also offer online solutions, such as Elegant Themes with their drag and drop site builder. And if you stay within a template for WordPress, for example, the code is largely hidden from you.
And web developers do not have to complain because it creates clean, W3C compliant HTML / CSS that is certainly not inferior to what many developers write themselves. It is based on Twitter’s Bootstrap framework. And no, you are not stuck within a certain application because the code generated by Webflow, Macaw, or Webydo can be exported and used as required within an external development platform.
No more code!
I know it: a daring statement… But what I really want as a designer is to understand the website. Not necessarily through coding. This is based on two basic ideas:
I want to offer my clients a predictable result and process. As a freelance designer, I do not always have the opportunity to hire an (expensive) developer for your project. And my client is not waiting to get in between two parties. As a designer, you want to take care of the translation from design to code. That’s what it’s about – whether you can code or not. That is why professional applications are worth researching.
More control over my work. As a designer, you want to keep control over your creations. Unfortunately, many changes are often lost in the translation from design to code. The translation from PSD to responsive HTML / CSS is not 1-2. If you build the site yourself, you will have control over the quality of the entire project (course), and you will be better able to anticipate changes.
Look deeper than your screen.
Working entirely without a notion of code – as we now encode Postscript with Adobe Illustrator unnoticed – we are not yet that far. The (semi) manual translation from design to (front-end) code will still be necessary. The WYSIWYG applications are now composed of two views: a ‘code view’ and the ‘drag-and-drop view.’ But the development is going fast. Soon we will know that something works or does not work, but not so much why. And it will certainly not last 20 years. Or is that wishful thinking? Or is that bad?
[su_pullquote]Learn the right concepts so that you can put your design ideas well to developers.[/su_pullquote]
Until then, as a web designer, you will at least have to remain open to other indispensable disciplines. If you completely ignore the internet’s technical concept, ignoring the building blocks of web development, it will go badly with you. You will need to have your basic knowledge of coding your own to understand how developers think and what they need. Learn the right concepts so that you can put your design ideas well to developers.
Basic knowledge of the development process
Basic knowledge of the development process, use of different programming languages , and restrictions on your design make you a better designer. The better you can estimate what is technically realistic, the less time you have, and then you are not at the mercy of a developer.
Moreover, as a professional in the creative sector, you are eager to learn. Because if your curiosity dries up, you will be caught up.
Being a web designer sounded ideal: I’d be able to create beautiful things for the internet and use all my creative juices for typography pairings, color schemes, and giving websites that certain Je ne sais quois. At the same time, though, I was worried that I wouldn’t have what it takes to be a web designer. With no history of graphic design or any design training at all, I wondered who would trust me with the aesthetics of their website.
And when I had thought about web dev, I thought, “This is what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to make a ton of money and have all the power in the world to build awesome websites and web apps. But what if this is boring?”
But as I learned HTML, Java & CSS, met more designers and developers, and started working on my freelance websites, I realized I had it all wrong. It’s not that you don’t have to choose between web design and development. The point is that my idea of the differences between web design and web development was pretty out of touch. This is the blog post that I wish I could read when I first dipped my toe in technical waters.
Web Designers or Web Developers?
Okay, so by the end of this post, you’re going to have:
- A rundown of the biggest myths about designers and developers so that you can make an informed decision as to which path is right for you,
- A comprehensive infographic breakdown EXACTLY of the skills and tools used by web designers and developers;
- A breakdown of the basic skills that all technicians need,
- A framework to find out which path best fits your personality,
But I want to let the cat out of the bag before I dive in. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you choose to start with web design or web development! Getting digital skills will enable you to make more cash and have some of the most in-demand skills, regardless of whether they fall into the category of web design or web development.
This guide is based on general personality characteristics and a synopsis of day-to-day tasks. If some of it seems oversimplified, it’s because I want to make it super simple for you to make a decision. In reality, huh? There is a lot of overlap between web designers and web developers, and there is no right or wrong starting point!
Get rid of the myths about coders
Before you can decide what kind of career you want, you need to make sure you know what web designers and developers are doing.
If you’re like me, you’ve been socialized to define “web designer” and “web developer” in ways that don’t represent what it actually is like to be one, and you’ve never talked to a real-life web designer or developer.
My biggest misconceptions about designers and developers were about how much money they make, how steep the learning curve is, and what kind of work they do. I was wrong to believe the myths that:
Learning to be a programmer is more difficult than learning to be a designer (or the other way around).
Some people assume that because development involves higher-level programming, it will be harder to learn compared to design. Others see design as harder because they think it requires more innate (rather than learned) creativity.
When you start from scratch, any new skill is a challenge. Web development and web design are not inherently more or less challenging—your strengths and weaknesses will dictate the path of least resistance to you.
Developers make more than $$$.
If you look at the average web developer salary, it appears at first glance that a web developer salary is a lot more than a web designer salary:
- Web designer: 66,000 dollars.
- Web Developers: $87,000
*Retrieved salary search for the U.S.
But if you start looking for more specific areas of a web designer’s salary, you’ll see that the two are competitive:
- Designer of Interaction: $93,000
- Mobile Design: $92,000
- User Experience Designers: $92,000
*Retrieved salary search for the U.S.
It’s true that the average salary of a web developer is higher, but this isn’t something you’re going to have to worry about as a beginner. Whether you start learning how to become a web developer or web designer, you’re probably not going to be a senior full-stack developer (and make a very top salary) in a couple of months, as that usually requires a few years of experience.
And besides, web designers are making a lot of money. Since both are lucrative options, it’s better to choose what makes you happier than what you think will pay more.
Web designers don’t have a code.
Web designers, on the other hand, write HTML and CSS code. For instance, say they need a smooth scrolling site—some designers (we call them unicorns!) can code it independently.
There are now some designers out there who don’t code, especially print designers and some digital graphic designers. Still, most WEB designers can turn their designs into working websites using HTML and CSS. The best way to make good money, and to be able to deliver what clients and employers want the most, is to be a package of magic design and coding.