Designers: it’s time to embrace development

For many years, there’s been this interesting but well-accepted dichotomy between web designers and web developers.

Web designers create a visualization of the layout for a website or web application, using Photoshop, Sketch, Figma, or any of a number of modern user interface creation tools.

Web developers take the approved visual layouts of a web designer and then code out the final product in HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript.

But increasingly, the line has been blurring between them. Designers need to embrace web development principles to be aware of the latest web capabilities, many of which can’t be easily replicated through their UI creation tools.

At the same time, many web developers have become competent designers in their own right. And they’re able to spin up web designs right in the browser.

Still, I get the impression that beyond maybe some basic HTML and CSS knowledge, many designers hesitate to embrace development skills for one reason or another. Some insist that the occupational separation between visual design and coding is still important. Others know they should immerse themselves in web development but always find a reason to avoid it.

Web development for creating visual content is continually expanding and also getting more complex. It’s not very easy to keep up.

Recently, I’ve discovered a new video series from Google that could be very helpful. It’s called “Designing in the Browser” and it’s aimed at familiarizing designers with cutting-edge CSS for better awareness of what their developer counterparts can do today with styling visual elements.

Designing in the Browser is also great for web developers wanting to up their game with their CSS skills.

One caveat to note is that because it’s created by Google, there’s a definite bent toward their Chrome browser and Material Design principles. If you can get past this, you should find this video series a great resource.