Andrew Whittle
Independent Digital Graphic Designer

All the latest news

New projects, industry news, reviews and more.

 
 
Feb 1, 2015

Should Graphic Designers be able to code? Yes

There is a lot of talk in the web industry about wether or not a Graphic Designer should be able to code. In short my answer is an absolute yes, read on and find out why.

?I for one started in the web industry nearly 20 years ago and back then it was a natural progression, after all I just saw it as Graphic Design online, communicating a message, just digitally. 20 years on and nothing has changed, when I design a website I am tasked with solving a problem through design, managing content, making decisions on images, colour, typography, composition, grid systems, the bedrock of Graphic Design. So for me as a trained Graphic Designer, I see web design as another delivery medium if it solves the problem.

So what does this have to do with coding as a Graphic Designer?

Well its quite simple, you can not design something if you do not know how it is built. That would be like an Architect designing a house without understanding how the house will be built or knowledge of materials and available resources.

What I come across all too often are designs that have been approved by a client then passed over to a frontend coder or developer to build without any understanding of what is possible. The problem in this workflow is showing the client the final design without even involving the coder, it then becomes the coders worse nightmare, trust me I have been there.

Designer working with a developer

If you are a Graphic Designer (and I am first and foremost), learn to code. Yes I know it is a big undertaking and trust me if I was asked to learn to code now I would probably shudder at the thought because there is just so much to learn, not just the software (any monkey can learn software, thats why there are so many people saying the can build a website for peanuts) but how websites are used, how elements will stack up from desktop to tablet to mobile, how fonts are rendered and what impact this may have on your offline branding, how logos display on a site, not to mention colour, that Pantone colour may look great in print but what about screen? Then you need to understand your ems from your rems and your SVG's from your PNG's.

You also need to consider if the website is best suited to a particular CMS, e-Commerce solution or is it a custom build because this may to some degree effect the design.

Before you even start designing a website, have you worked up a wireframe? Will this be done using pen and paper, static layouts (not advisable) or HTML wireframes. When you do start on the design should you use Photoshop, Illustrator or work directly in the browser, do you hack a WordPress Theme (never a good mover).

What I am saying is not meant to scare you as a Graphic Designer but to give you some insight as to what you need to be thinking about as well as presenting visuals to a client.

Generally speaking though, it is my opinion that if you are a traditional Graphic Designer asked to design a website, without any experience in coding at all, then pass it on, do not take the project on. The only time this is acceptable is when you are working very closely with a coder or developer from the beginning and get the coder to check through the design before any visuals are presented to the client. You then need to decide how best to present the visuals (please don't just e-mail jpgs or send print outs! without any narrative to the design).

This leads me onto building complete websites. For me as a Graphic Designer you should really be able to code up your design, even better, build the whole website out and if possible hook it up into a CMS. This is what I do, I take a website project from start to finish including setting up hosting, domain names, databases etc... as well as the design. Because I still produce print work and branding the final design, online and offline is consistent.

I know this is generally out of most peoples comfort zone but by understanding the technology and how to code, will make you a better designer and ultimately a better solution for your client.

There is a flip-side to this however in that if you do not expand your skills and learn to code then it will be harder to gain employment. So go on get cracking, there are loads of resources online to get you going.

comments powered by Disqus

Blog catorgories

All posts
Freelance
Marketing Advice
Tutorials

Receive my eNewsletter

If you would like to grow your business through effective design and marketing, register to receive my monthly eNewsletter. Note: Your details will not be shared with any third party companies.

Kind words from my clients

?Andrew has recently designed and developed 3 different websites for me 1 of which has already launched and is performing extremely well in terms of conversion rates.

In terms of the process from start to finish, I had an idea of features that i wanted on my site but I had no idea of the layout. Andrew gave me his own recommendation on what he thought would work well in order to make the customer journey as simple as possible and based on our current conversion rates he's got it quite spot on.

Andrew provided me with daily updates regarding the progress of the site from the design phase to the site build. In total the length of the project was just over 2 months. The website has passed all security checks and although the site is just 1 week old has surpassed all our forecasts and projections. I would highly recommend working with Andrew, his designs are aesthetically excellent and he has mastered simplifying the customer journey and has helped me get off to a flying start with my new business. ?Ocean Capital Ltd - www.paydaypixie.co.uk

?Andrew has been great and guided me through the process of development to completion...

If I have had any questions he has been prompt and completed all tasks in good time. He has a good eye for details and I have asked him to help me further with my development of training and other materials for my business.?Embryarch Ltd - www.embryarch.co.uk

?Having recently brought our website into the 21st century, I can thoroughly recommend the work of Andrew. He is professional, friendly, and a pleasure to work with.?MG Caravans - www.mgcaravans.co.uk

?The service received from Andrew is fast and efficient. Andrew always interprets the brief accurately and delivers a first class service. I have worked with Andrew for several years and would have no hesitation in recommending him.?Aura Health & Beauty - www.aurabeauty.co.uk

?We would like to thank Andrew for our new CMS website and the help, support and guidance whilst creating it. Andrew is approachable, friendly and didn?t talk in technical jargon which we didn?t understand. Andrew is always there for help and support to answer even the silliest of questions. Once again a big thank from everyone at Nutshaw Kennels.?Nutshaw Kennels - www.nutshawkennels.co.uk

?Andrew listened to what I needed and provided me with a fresh new website, identity and leaflet. He guided me through the process of getting my website online and now I rank page one on Google. I would highly recommend Andrew.?Jacqui Rostron - www.jacquirostron.com

andrewwhittle1 RT @WhittleDesign: Great day today. A new logo, brochure and two websites booked in today, bring on tomorrow for more! #graphicdesign #bran…