Nathan McGinness

Why great web designers code

Should designers code? I don’t know. The best web designers do, and here’s why:

The fluid / responsive / adaptive web

Pick any buzzword you like, you can’t ignore that web design is changing. Cross-platform design is in it’s infancy and it requires problem-solving designer willing to get their hands dirty and push boundaries. We’ll continue to use tools like Photoshop, but handing a 960px fixed-width PSD to a team of engineers is starting to look plain silly.

Web typography

An explosion of new techniques brings a universe of aesthetic possibilities. Dynamic typography and the very nature of web-fonts means any truly cutting-edge typographer is designing in the browser. Pushing text-boxes around in Photoshop doesn’t cut it anymore.

Interaction design

We can’t see into the future, and we can’t design for all interactions and edge cases in Photoshop. We discover interaction problems, and brilliant ideas as we build out interfaces and applications. Being technically involved provides a more complete understanding of our products. It also allows for rapid, organic adjustments.

Movement and animation

The web moves. The graphic-only web designer ignores this crucial fact. Building an complete experience, and getting the details right requires working with JavaScript and CSS.

Iterative design (and prototyping)

A website, application or online product is never finished. We learn the most about our products after we let them into the wild. The best designers take these learnings and feed them straight back into the production cycle.

The design trends, practices and methodologies above demand designers with technical expertise. The web designer who doesn’t code is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

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