Designers vs Coding

In his most recent blog post my studiomate Frank Chimero takes on the very frequent question asked by design students: “Do I need to know how to code?

10 Comments leave a comment below

  1. I don’t think a designer has to know how to code but should be familiar with what’s possible with certain code, atleast html. But like he mentioned it certainly won’t hurt to know how. I wonder why the opposite rarely pops up, should developers learn how to design?

  2. I’m currently working on my web portfolio. My goal is to be a successful hybrid designer/developer. Adam is right, it will benefit a developer to learn design rules and techniques. They don’t need to be a master designer, but it can be a commodity when presenting yourself for jobs.

    I’ve done a lot of reading and this message has been echoed over and over again. I dropped out of a web program in college, because they weren’t teaching the coding and rules of the industry. So I picked up books and used the internet to teach myself.

    Trust industry experts when they tell you to learn something, they are most likely right.

  3. This post inspired us to create this:

    :) Thanks for the inspiration Frank.

  4. I got into “coding” because I saw it as another medium for exercising design principles and solving problems. My best friend is a software engineer and it’s interesting to discuss what the term “design” involves in his realm.

    And damn that Frank Chimero, whose wordsmithing makes me feel like I’m writing in Crayon and finger paint.

  5. I used to code all the time, and taught myself and used it, but I’m finding now that most sites are being done using CMS, and then things like PHP start to creep in, and lots of other bits and bobs. So I find myself doing less and less and relying on a developer.

    My main problem with the coding thing is that it isn’t very straightforward as just learning it, which would be marvellous. The words ‘cross-browser compatibility’ just strike fear into my heart now and it seems as if the people who can deal well with this are those who have loads of experience, and can use all the workarounds for different browsers, resetting stylesheets etc. So it isn’t quite as simple as Frank makes out. I wish it were! I know Flash is getting less relevant in many ways, but it still strikes me as a beautiful and cross-browser compatible (and design and code friendly) method.

  6. I gave up coding entire websites when netscape 7.0 was released, so some while ago.
    The frustration of having to put the mention ‘designed for netscape bla.bla’ or ‘explorer bli.bli’ on you ‘splashscreen’ just freaked me out. Some 10 years further, one still needs to make css exceptions for this or that browser.
    And then there was flash actionscripting(✝ thx to apple) and javaschripting and PHP, etc etc.
    Anyway there were a million of ways to code your pages, and now there’s a million more.
    Should you know the basics? Sure. But if you are serious about your clients, get a dedicated programmer in, who knows the basics of good graphic design.
    You’ll have enough to do with organizing the content and designing.

  7. Any designer who intends on designing for the web should have coding knowledge! As a web developer, one of the first conversations I’ll have with a new designer centers around how to use fonts for the web – designing with pixels rather than ems or points, using web-safe fonts, google fonts, or typekit fonts in their designs, taking advantage of letter-spacing (kerning) and various css3 attributes to make otherwise boring web-safe fonts look interesting….. and this is just our first conversation! There are so many amazing things you can accomplish when design is fused with knowledge of what the web is capable of!

  8. ** correction ** pixels or ems rather than points!

  9. Frank’s post inspired us to write this — ftr we don’t completely agree.

    Find out why here:

  10. To me, it seems that in the long run, designers will be expected to understand app development to the same degree that they are expected to understand web development. That is, that the economics of building and creating applications make it so that clients would like as small of a team as possible. I don’t think that we’ll be expected to be able to understand fluent Javascript, Java, and C++, but enough so that we are able to independently create simple websites, simple web apps, and simple mobile applications.