Why should web designers learn front end coding?

There are at least a few reasons why you should try to learn code as a web designer. However, there is also a few more, why it’s not the best decision to work both as a front end developer and a web developer, even if you know HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Let me explain all of it from my perspective.

Try to understand coding.

2 years ago I was trying to get my first job in IT as a student. I’ve been looking through all that complex job offers for designers. I was confused because all the offers contained a requirement of JavaScript or at least HTML and CSS knowledge.

“Why is that? I just want to design for you!”.

I can’t be sure what is the main intension of employers requiring coding knowledge as your skill, but what I’m sure is how much it gives you as a web designer…

First things first

What we have to remember is that designing for web has to have totally different approach than designing for print.

It has to work fast, has a light weight, be scalable and very intuitive. What you can achieve, as a web designer who knows all this fancy front end tricks and rules, is a possibility to provide design that has a great look BUT also great performance after being implemented.

You can understand

  • which things are possible to produce with a usage of code with reasonable cost,
  • how much code does it need to produce such thing
  • why it’s better to make reasonable spaces between elements (ask yourself if it really makes a huge difference for this particular design, if you make two spaces by 20px and one for 18px, can’t you just make it all 20?)
  • how to find a common ground with your developer, how to understand what is the problem, how to avoid problems and how to prepare all necessary elements for him.

It may seem obvious but after I learned coding I’ve started to see design totally differently…and of course web design also needs people with a totally fresh ideas, with totally opposite mindset, but work after learning how to code, seems just much easier.

You simply start to understand the full concept of web from the ground and think about development in time of designing it.

Getting along with developers

You can have a great working relationship with your developers while you are able to provide a competent response to their feedback. Most likely it will be related to the elements that are taking more time than it’s necessary or there may be a really easy way to make their life much easier while coding.

You will know as well, how to prepare the style guides for a project, so your developers can really benefit from it.

Should this work both ways?

Yes! Definitely! Having design skills, working as a Front End Developer is so convenient. It helps you so many times. You are also able to provide own input into projects’ look and feel. Provide better User Experience and give your designers much more specific feedback about elements. It’s also a great way to cooperate with your designer by discussing ideas for possible animations or additional effects on your project.

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