While using a couple of training days to refresh my basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, It reminded me of a debate that raged around the web sphere 3 -4 years ago.

Should designers write code?

A: Only a few years ago I would’ve said yes.
But times have changed. The industry has changed. Designing for different digital mediums is no longer the “New Black” it’s the norm. Back in the day a web designer was expected to code their own designs. But because of Specialization and the evolution in terms of software and work processes etc. it’s not surprising a number of individuals/companies have said that It wasn’t important nor necessary for designers to write code.

What I was told by people in the industry

I was once told by a Digital Design Director: “If you’re a designer who 
has taken up coding recently, that’s great if want to add another bow to your skill set. But that won’t be necessary here. We have guys here who specialize in front-end and back-end development. We don’t believe in diluting your ‘core’ skill. After all “Architects don’t build their own buildings, do they?”

Another Design Director told me: “front-end and back-end guys don’t like web designers who write their own code simply because they’ve never met a web designer who produced ‘good code’! All the departments here, design, front and back-end work hand in glove to produce the best digital solution”.

So, is it still necessary for web designers to write code?

Nah. There are plenty now and there will be plenty tomorrow who will never know code and still manage to be great and successful web designers. That doesn’t mean web designers shouldn’t learn the basics.

Here’s why learning the basics will help:

  • Understanding the medium will help you work better in that medium
  • It offers a competitive advantage
  • It leads to better communication between design and development
  • The more you know in general, the better designer you’ll be. Simples!

Why it’s helpful to have a little knowledge

Case in point with bullet point number 3. It’s fair to say that a project won’t be completed by one but several people who will all need to communicate with each other. You’ll certainly have to talk to the person who’s developing your design. The two are tightly connected. The more you as a web designer understand the development process the better your communication with a developer will be and the more likely the finished project will be faithful to your design.

What’s the takeaway?

The market place now is flooded with software tools that make prototyping projects a lot, lot easier than before. They all help to plug that gap between design and development. The designer no longer needs to hand code prototypes. They can now showcase their ideas on in-browser applications or download desktop apps for UX/UI. But I’ve come around to the idea that even though there’s a massive choice in terms of tools to use. I think on any given digital project big or small, a designer, In order to properly understand the bigger picture, still needs to know the basics.

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