September 1, 2013
The internet has been pushing for designers to learn how to code ever since print designers moved into user interface. Those arguments have always centered around how designers should know the limitations of the medium they are creating for.
That’s still a very valid point, especially in a world where new design students still come out of art school stronger in print design than web (If you’re one of those, learning HTML & CSS may be the best decision you ever make).
A different reason to become a good front-end developer
Great design isn’t just pixels, hierarchy and flow. It’s what happens in between screens and when users interact with your design. The reality today is you can’t finish a design without being able to build out these interactions. Instead of designing the whole experience as you think it should be, without doing some level of development (it could even be a prototype), you’re leaving the intricacies of your work up for interpretation by the front-end dev.
Instead of showing the developer how it should work, you’re left with using words or keyframes of how something should look. Can you imagine describing this sort of interaction to a developer? It’s really something you have to see and use to understand.
Maybe you can get a combination of words and keyframes to work, but even if you have great communication with that developer, there is sure to be some occasional misinterpretation and iteration required. If you and your developer don’t have great communication, who knows what can happen.
No more excuses
If you’ve been on the fence about getting in and really learning to code, now’s as good of a time as any to stop being a lazy web designer and learn the skill that is almost required to do your primary job well. You might even wind up enjoying the the art of creating code more than that of creating designs.