I ran into a couple of articles today that discuss the issue of whether or not a “Web Designer” should know HTML and CSS. As a professional Web Designer, I’ve had this discussion with fellow designers and coders for years.
I’m not going to rehash the whole argument since it’s done so well here (Six Revision) and here (Full Stop Interactive), but being in the biz for 10 years I think I can throw in my two cents on the whole thing.
So the question is ‘Should Web Designers know HTML/CSS?’ The short answer is YES.
The long answer is, YES, to design a website properly the designer MUST know how the back end of things work and why wouldn’t a web designer want to understand how his or her designs are built? It just seems crazy and anti-productive to me to not know HTML/CSS
If you put two web designers side by side, with the same graphic design skills.. one has HTLM/CSS working knowledge and the other has no interest or idea how to code their designs, I can’t imagine the designer without the HTML/CSS knowledge would be able to output a design that is true to the web.
This is why Print Graphic Designers make such HORRIBLE web designers. It’s obvious to me when I see a design created by a print designer or a web designer without the coding skills set, they just don’t think everything through. (trust me I see this all the time) They don’t consider how the background will render on different monitor sizes, or where the “fold” is, or how their design will translate to mobile. These are all things a designer should consider. I think one learns these skills when they actually have to build out their own designs.
Learning HTML/CSS is easy, mastering it… not so much. A web designer doesn’t need to master it, just understand it and stay on top of the technology they are designing for. I know for a fact that the majority of print designers understand how paper affects their designs and can not be taken lightly.
This isn’t to say that a Web Designer SHOULD do the actual coding. I like to leave that up to the experts. Much like the analogy of an architect building the actual house, they understand the materials and the techniques, but they don’t actually know how to run a cement mixer.