Jeff Croft

I’m a product designer in Seattle, WA. I lead Design at a stealthy startup. I recently worked at Simply Measured, and previously co-founded Lendle.

Some of my past clients include Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and the University of Washington.

I’ve authored two books on web and interactive design and spoken at dozens of conferences around the world.

But seriously, who gives a shit?

Blog entry // 09.30.2007 // 11:33 PM // 141 Comments

Tools do not a designer make

During the design roundtable at Webmaster Jam Session last weekend, I mentioned that I think employers often value knowledge of tools too much when it comes to hiring web designers. As I think about it more, I realize that it’s not just employers; there are probably thousands of people out there that call themselves “web designers” despite having no real understanding of the basics of design.

But employers’ focus on tools encourages this. Job descriptions far more often demand that potential employees know Photoshop, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript than than you know layout, color, typography, usability, and information architecture. This is really flawed thinking, in my mind.

A lot of people get into web design and development by learning HTML and CSS. That’s great. But if those people start calling themselves “designers,” just because they’ve learned a few W3 specs, then that’s a problem — it devalues what real designers do.

Forgive me if I sound harsh, but if your skill set is basically HTML and CSS, then I think you are worth maybe twelve bucks an hour. HTML and CSS are extremely simple languages anyone can learn in a weekend by picking up a good book or two. These are not particularly valuable skills. The same can be said for Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and just about any other piece of software or spec you can name. So what is valuable? Judgement. Logic. Creativity. Ability to learn quickly. Ability to work under pressure. Experience. Empathy. Design theory. Design history. Opinions. Decisions. And so on. I’d like to think that a good 80% of what my employer pays me for is for these things. Hopefully only a small percentage of my salary is because I know CSS and Photoshop.

Think about it: do you go to the doctor because of her ability to use a stethoscope? Do you go to an architect because he’s really good with pencil and paper? Do you go to an auto mechanic because he is better with a wrench than you are?

If you want to be a great web designer, then yes — you do need to know HTML and CSS. But the inverse is not also true: knowing HTML and CSS does not make you a designer. If being a great web designer is your goal, I would suggest most of your time ought not be spent on learning tools.

Update: Via e-mail, Brandy Reppy notes that a trip her local big-box bookstore for web design books basically netted her a whole bunch of HTML and Dreamweaver books. There are only a small handful of design-oriented books aimed at people working on the web. This re-emphasizes my point: web deign is thought of as HTML, CSS, and a handful of software tools — not as a traditional design art.

Comments

  1. 001 // Geof Harries // 10.01.2007 // 12:28 AM

    Your list of valuable characteristics only comes from someone with real-world work history, maturity, humility and perspective. That’s precisely the type of person that I’d seek to hire, every time.

  2. 002 // Austin Whittier // 10.01.2007 // 12:49 AM

    While I agree that if you know HTML and CSS doesn’t necessarily make you a designer, I believe that if you really take the time to understand the language and the beauty of it then you are a designer.

    I also think that the ability to work under pressure, although sadly is a quality employers look for, should never be something a designer has to do. When the employer forces a deadline on the designer, the designer will not be doing his best work. I find that the designer’s own website is ten times better than any work he has done. This is because, instead of trying to get what the employer wants in time, the designer is working freely and has the time to think about what he is doing.

  3. 003 // Wolf // 10.01.2007 // 1:50 AM

    I didn’t want to comment on your previous article because I had nothing to add, but this one shines again in telling the truth.

    It could be even worse: some job ads don’t ask for Dreamweaver skills instead of HTML/CSS. Most ask a ridiculous combo: “Photoshop” knowledge plus client side scripting plus server side scripting / and or programming languages. And yeah, if you can slice too, that would be a bonus.

    There’s only a few silver birds out there who can do it all, and even then, in their hearts, they’re still either a programmer or a designer.

  4. 004 // Dustin Brewer // 10.01.2007 // 1:50 AM

    I agree, there are too many people out there that have zero knowledge of design principles or theory labeling themselves designers because they simply know how to use Dreamweaver or can figure out how to make a web page using rudimentary HTML knowledge.

    But those are the same people that will eventually give up and/or be left behind.

  5. 005 // Alexander Radsby // 10.01.2007 // 2:10 AM

    I totally agree with you. I feel that you can’t label yourself as a designer if you don’t know the basics of design. Too many people do this. They should at least have knowledge of the grid. You are right every time.

  6. 006 // Dan Jasker // 10.01.2007 // 2:25 AM

    (First comment, totally new to this site, but enjoy it so far!)

    On the flip-side though, you have a lot of trained and experienced designers who have knowledge of design principles and don’t know what they’re doing. I think, often times, we focus too much on creating specific labels for ourselves while choosing to, in-a-sense, be-little others in an attempt to gain some sort of personal identity within ourselves and amongst other people. There is no more humbling experience than losing a project to someone who knew just enough or losing a job position because you knew too much.

    Not saying Jeff is trying to do that, but in general I find it in commonplace.

    Great article!

  7. 007 // Phil // 10.01.2007 // 2:41 AM

    There is another interesting flip side to this point. I have only just started in this industry and am called to use a variety of tools within my work, HTML, CSS, Javascript, XML and XSL. However, no matter who I tell, or how I tell them, people always end up telling others that I’m a web designer and I have to go to pains to explain that I’m a developer.

    Perhaps it is the fact that, for the majority of users, the design of a page is the stand out factor of the web and thus the designers are perceived to be the most important ones on a team. When I show friends or family a site I’ve created, they say how nice it looks, not how impressed they are with my code or with the features. So, while the general public call anyone who works on the front end of the web a designer, perhaps a bit of that rubs off on those who are starting out in the industry and have used Photoshop before. They start calling themselves designers, employers are asking for the ability to use these tools and it all falls apart down the line when both employer and employee realise that they weren’t cut out for each other. By that time it is too late though.

    I agree with the original point though, why post tools as requirements for jobs when it is not that you can use those tools, but how you do so that is important.

  8. 008 // Arve Systad // 10.01.2007 // 4:19 AM

    I totally agree. Way too many job-ads look for people that “know HTML, CSS, Javascript and Photoshop” - nothing else. Might be nice to know the tools, but it’s not what makes you a designer or not.

    […] the designer is working freely and has the time to think about what he is doing.

    Yep, true. A deadline hanging over your head will probably always be a limit to how great your work can ever be - in my opinion many webpages are never actually done, its just getting closer to done. And when they are released too prematurely, they obviously won’t be as good as they could have been.

  9. 009 // Carlo // 10.01.2007 // 4:30 AM

    Should your title read “Tools do not make a designer”? Anyway, great article. I’m currently in a class that really puts design in the forefront in creating consumer products and services, and how important it really is. It really isn’t just knowing to use a few programs, but having a deeper understanding of what people like, what works, what’s pleasing, why things work the way they do, etc.

  10. 010 // Maaike // 10.01.2007 // 6:54 AM

    You’re very right. In art & design schools (the good ones, at least) most time is spent teaching students conceptual thinking. Design is not just about tools, or even about making things look beautiful. And, well, just like html and css, you can learn Photoshop in a couple of weeks (I think a weekend is too short!). But becoming a great designer takes years.

  11. 011 // Lee Coursey // 10.01.2007 // 6:54 AM

    I have to admit that it burns me just a bit to read your post since I started with general computer programming, moved to HTML, then CSS etc…

    I have never taken a class or read anything more than a picture book on design.

    I would say probably that someone with a solid knowledge of those tools can be successful if he or she simply understands what a website is and who it is for. You can not truly understand those things without designing for them. Therefore I would say that a good understanding of marketing is just as influential to your abilities as a designer as anything else.

  12. 012 // John Faulds // 10.01.2007 // 7:06 AM

    I believe that if you really take the time to understand the language and the beauty of it then you are a designer

    I don’t think so. Reading web dev related blogs and forums you come across many people who clearly know a lot about their subject (and whose opinions and thoughts you respect) but when you check out their personal sites they betray a distinct lack of design sensibilities. So, either these people are too busy doing stellar work for others to be able to spend time on their own sites or a complete understanding and appreciation of the topic doesn’t necessarily equate to design skill.

  13. 013 // Brian Ford // 10.01.2007 // 8:23 AM

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment:

    Most job postings aren’t there to find out if someone is “good” at something, they’re there to weed out candidates to get to a common starting point.

    The interview is where you’re supposed to delve into talent, knowledge of design theory, color theory, etc.

    The real problem is that most companies (especially those that aren’t primarily creative) don’t know how to interview for a creative position.

    So, in a sense, if I interviewed two people — one who was excited and knowledgeable about design trends, but without a lot of real world experience with CSS / HTML, and a person who spent a lot of time learning some code, but who didn’t really impress me visually with his/her portfolio, I’d go with the first guy / gal.

    There’s a lot to be said for teaching skills to the right person. 1) It breeds loyalty and 2) that person is more likely apply the skills in a manner that is consistent with the MO of the company in question.

    Never hire someone who knows too much, or thinks they do.

  14. 014 // Baxter // 10.01.2007 // 8:41 AM

    I was in a job interview once and they asked me if I knew Dreamweaver. I told them I handcode my pages in a text editor, and can use any text editor to to build pages. They said “We really want somebody who knows Dreamweaver”, and the interview was over. Can’t say I lost much sleep over that one.

    Jeff, you know I agree with you, but the things that are of real value are just so damn hard to quantify in a job post, or even in an interview. I also agree with Lee, an understanding of marketing is pretty essential.

  15. 015 // Joe Sak // 10.01.2007 // 8:53 AM

    It would be nice if more people recognized this.

    Just because you can use Front Page does not mean you can make very good decisions about design and web development.

    I’d say my number one problem is clients who insist on features and practices that are counter-intuitive to usability.

  16. 016 // Benjamin Wiederkehr // 10.01.2007 // 9:24 AM

    First off: great article.

    There’s one thing I would like to add. Too many companies have worked with “that guy that knew html” already. They were thene in the position to tell this person what to do and how it had to look. But if they work with a designer for the web later on, they can’t accept the real competence of a designer right away. So the designer is in the difficult position to convince his employer that he’s the one to make design decisions and not only here to code their ideas.

  17. 017 // Grant Blakeman // 10.01.2007 // 10:15 AM

    (applause)

    I often have people ask me what tools I use for my design/dev work (web or otherwise) - they’re surprised that I use the same basic tools as they do - they recognize my work is of a different caliber than their’s, but I think they were secretly hoping I had access to a magic software program or something that they’ve never heard of that made me better…

  18. 018 // AJ Kandy // 10.01.2007 // 11:10 AM

    Bravo. I’m currently looking for fulltime work after a few years in a small agency, and most job listings are indeed looking for those ‘silver birds’ as another commenter noted. I’ve never met anyone who was both a brilliant PHP / XML / ASP / HTML / CSS / insert-acronym-here coder and a brilliant graphic designer, information architect, Photoshop artist and copywriter…

    I’m much more the latter, but I understand what most current web technologies do. I stick to the design-and-structure side and work hand-in-hand with coders who actually implement things. This way we’re each playing to our strengths.

    I think it’s up to us to better describe what we do and educate potential employers on the differences / advantages. I prefer the more accurate ‘art director’ or ‘creative director’, albeit one that does a fair bit of UI work.

  19. 019 // Matt Wilcox // 10.01.2007 // 11:20 AM

    The irritating thing is when your client doesn’t value any of those things, but wants you because you can use the tools they can’t.

    It’s a problem that can swing both ways, and it sucks both times.

  20. 020 // Alex // 10.01.2007 // 12:05 PM

    Agreed 90%. Agreed 100% with the article title.

    The other thing that I hate is those employers that expect you to know almost every scripting/coding language out there, in (or most commonly not) addition to design sensibilities.

  21. 021 // Jeff Croft // 10.01.2007 // 1:14 PM

    While I agree that if you know HTML and CSS doesn’t necessarily make you a designer, I believe that if you really take the time to understand the language and the beauty of it then you are a designer.

    Clearly, putting together quality markup and styles can be considered design. You are, effectively, designing your code. So while I see your point, I’m confident you understand that’s not the kind of design I was talking about, and it’s not the kind of design most people think of when they hear the word “designer”.

    I also think that the ability to work under pressure, although sadly is a quality employers look for, should never be something a designer has to do.

    This is probably true in theory, but in practice deadlines are necessary, and real work can’t get done without them. Surely you understand this?

    But those are the same people that will eventually give up and/or be left behind.

    This may be true. They’re certainly the people that are most likely to get left behind. But, there are still thousands of small businesses, Universities, and other companies that are perfectly willing to pay someone $15/hr to build out HTML and CSS, and there are still tons of web folks for which $15/hr. sounds like a lot of money, who are more than willing to do the job, despite it not being an ideal situation.

  22. 022 // Jeff Croft // 10.01.2007 // 1:14 PM

    On the flip-side though, you have a lot of trained and experienced designers who have knowledge of design principles and don’t know what they’re doing.

    You have a lot of experienced and trained designers who don’t know anything about the web medium, that’s true. But their design skills are still very valuable. These designers will also get left out of web jobs, eventually, if they don’t learn the medium. Ask any print designer about the print process. Chances are they know a lot about it, even if they aren’t a printer themselves. They know about paper types, ink types, printing processes, and so forth. Likewise, a web designer does need to have an understanding of the implementation processes (HTML, CSS, etc.), even if they aren’t doing that work themselves.

    Should your title read “Tools do not make a designer”?

    It could, but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun, would it?

    I would say probably that someone with a solid knowledge of those tools can be successful if he or she simply understands what a website is and who it is for.

    If a person truly achieves a high level of success as a web designer without studying design, then I would say that person has extreme natural talent and instinct for design. That’s awesome — but most of us aren’t so lucky.

    The interview is where you’re supposed to delve into talent, knowledge of design theory, color theory, etc.

    Definitely a good point. Still, job descriptions could be better written to reflect this.

    @Baxter: Good for you in not sucking it up and using Dreamweaver. Far too many people take jobs without ensuring they’re a good fit. An interview should be two-sided: you are interviewing them, too.

    @Grant: Indeed. I had a few design students here in the Blue Flavor office interviewing me not long again and they were shocked when I told them my tools were Photoshop and a text editor — and that’s it.

  23. 023 // Kev Mears // 10.01.2007 // 2:07 PM

    I feel there’s also a bigger danger for web designers where the focus is on tools, and that is one becomes too close to a project and ends up losing sight of what one enjoys.

    Right now, my confidence is ebbing away, and I think it’s because I’ve allowed myself to drift into toolbox hell, where I am fire fighting little bits of code here and there. Maybe this article will help me to kick myself up the arse (now that’s a lovely image and good trick) and snap out of it!

  24. 024 // Jeremy Harrington // 10.01.2007 // 3:18 PM

    At the end of the day the quality of the work is what matters. No matter how much accessible xHTML smack you talk or how much CSS-fu you claim to know, if your projects looks like crap who cares. In the end quality work is quality work. When I see a site that really blows me away I care about the experience. Part of that experience may be that it works on all browsers, or it scales, or it’s accessible, etc. Part may be pure visual appeal. As someone experienceing the work, I don’t care if the creator went to art school or tech school or has developer in their title or is twleve years old. I just care that the damn site looks good and works well. Period. Now to do that, I would imagine the creator understands design and understands how to translate design into working code, the two seem to go hand-in-hand.

  25. 025 // Kevin // 10.01.2007 // 3:28 PM

    Forgive me if I sound harsh, but if your skill set is basically HTML and CSS, then I think you are worth maybe twelve bucks an hour. I disagree here. Perhaps basic HTML+CSS skills are $12, but knowing how to use best practices is worth more. Or at least something in my skillset makes my employer want to pay me more.

    HTML and CSS are extremely simple languages anyone can learn in a weekend by picking up a good book or two. True that someone could learn the basics, but again there is more to good use that just reading about them.

    These are not particularly valuable skills. Not so. In my city, it was very difficult for my employer to find a qualified individual with those skills.

  26. 026 // Jeff Croft // 10.01.2007 // 4:19 PM

    I disagree here. Perhaps basic HTML+CSS skills are $12, but knowing how to use best practices is worth more. Or at least something in my skillset makes my employer want to pay me more.

    Well, “worth” is something not easily calculated, given the difference in markets and other variables. If you get more than that for HTML and CSS building, that’s awesome. My point, really, wasn’t to dog HTML and CSS builder. It’s an important job, for sure. But it’s not the same as design. It’s the same as the difference between architects and construction workers. You need both, but one skill set is more valuable than the other, and one is more based on judgement, intuition, and other less-quantifiable traits than the other.

    True that someone could learn the basics, but again there is more to good use that just reading about them.

    I understand that, and my weekend point was an exaggeration, for sure. Doing great markup and CSS is very important and takes a good person to do well and right. I do understand this.

    Not so. In my city, it was very difficult for my employer to find a qualified individual with those skills.

    So then, in your city, does a markup and CSS expert get more money than a designer? Because again, I’m not saying that markup and CSS is worthless — only that it’s not as marketable a skill as design is.

  27. 027 // Baxter // 10.01.2007 // 4:21 PM

    Jeff, to be honest, I have no beef with dreamweaver. If can be used to create very nice code, especially if you just use it like a text editor anyway. As it turned out, I ended up at a job that used Dreamweaver for everything anyway. It gets the job done, you know…

    But yeah, there were big red flags. They saw dreamweaver as the magic code-maker program, and that’s never a good sign. They neither knew nor cared about the skillset, they only saw the tool.

  28. 028 // Jeff Croft // 10.01.2007 // 4:49 PM

    Jeff, to be honest, I have no beef with dreamweaver.

    Oh, I have no beef with Dreamweaver, either. It’s a professional-level product that produces nice results when used well. But, like you said, your experience threw up lots of red flags. It’s good that you recognized them and acted accordingly. A lot of people would have just taken the job, even though the red flags were obvious.

  29. 029 // Simon Cox // 10.02.2007 // 7:04 AM

    I am a good web designer but the company I work for tends to put more in store on the $12 an hour knowledge I have and farm out the design to an agency. Is it because I don’t take my bosses off to football matches or abroad for a weekend brainstorming session? Probably but more likely it’s the “grass is greener syndrome” where they prefer to spend the company money with the agency because their salesmen can sell the agency to my bosses better than me - (even though its not the actual same people doing the designing). So why am I still here? Because now I don’t have a portfolio of great work any more - I’m stuck and have been wrung dry of my creativity - so I am taking the easy bucks for being a monkey. At home though I am building my portfolio again using a suite of tools but mainly a pencil…

  30. 030 // Dalin // 10.02.2007 // 8:48 AM

    I’d have to agree that you need to know more than the basics. Still…you can’t test for those and other people don’t know those. I love asking that question…”What are design principles?” Is it the dumb hoops that your art teacher put you through to get through design school? Is it color harmonies? I think it’s how ones mind works. If you enjoy making a web site work as opposed to look good…then you are not a designer. I usually define designers as: 1. Someone who is willing to study and research for inspiration. 2. Someone who is willing to work with a client who is slaying your precious creation. 3. Someone who understands that while prettiness and functional both have place in your creations.

    I hate it when I have to work with designers who can’t be challenged on their work. To me, those people skills are just as important as drawing pretty pictures.

  31. 031 // pauldwaite // 10.02.2007 // 12:47 PM

    if your skill set is basically HTML and CSS, then I think you are worth maybe twelve bucks an hour

    Man, am I ever over-charging :)

    HTML and CSS are extremely simple languages anyone can learn in a weekend by picking up a good book or two.

    Until someone looks at their code in IE 6 :)

    Sorry, I know you already went through this above.

  32. 032 // Peter Roome // 10.02.2007 // 5:40 PM

    I have just stumbled across this site from an article i was reading over at Ordered List. Having read your article i would like to congratulate you. It is the first post i have read in a couple of days which has stimulated some sort of response from me. :-D

    I am a recent Graduate student from a Business/IT course. My desire to learn the more technical aspects associated with my course pulled me towards experimenting with CSS, mastering html and learning Ruby on Rails. And as a natural result i have had to develop my own layouts. I have recently been looking to pursue my career using these skills in a commercial environment however as you so rightly pointed out a large proportion of jobs seeking people with CSS and HTML skills are Web Design positions, throw into that equation Ruby on Rails and now I’m a Developer. Having never formally studied design i would under no circumstances class myself as a designer, however, i could quite easily code most designs handed to me simply using CSS and HTML.

    As you mentioned though, a lot of a persons value to an employer comes from their experience. I feel that if someone with a similar skill set to mine has been exposed to an environment in which they are coding designs produced by ‘designers’ or developing designs alongside designers then they will begin to understand what design is and how a successful User Interface is constructed, allowing them to begin contributing to the ‘design’ process. Complement this with some recommended reading surrounding the topics of layout and typography (along with perhaps a sprinkling of raw talent) and you begin to, dare i say it, ‘design’ you perfect Web Designer.

    However, there is a small floor in your argument (apologies if this has been previously mentioned, i haven’t read all the comments to this post) in that a lot of employers ask to see example URL’s as part of the application process for design and development jobs. I think this method is probably very effective in distinguishing between candidates with no design talent at all, those with some talent and coding skills who would benefit from some training and those lucky few who have all the required skills.

    As a Business/IT student this is the part of the application that scares me the most. Although i know when i see a good design on the net, i find it considerably more difficult to put my own ideas onto the screen and arrange them in a pleasing manner. So if anyone would like to suggest to me any websites or books for reading up about layout, typography and the ‘grid’ then i would be very pleased to hear from you as i am very motivated to learn more in order to engage in the design process.

    I agree with a couple of previous posts also that due to the large number of labels used in companies these days a lot of their meaning has become very hazy and in some cases completely lost.

  33. 033 // Andrew Ingram // 10.02.2007 // 6:39 PM

    I think there’s a big difference between knowing the HTML and CSS syntax and knowing how to do HTML and CSS.

    It’s true that you can learn the complete syntax in a weekend, in fact i’d also add that you can learn the syntax to about 10 programming languages in a weekend too. But this doesn’t mean you can use the programming languages.

    Applied HTML and CSS is a real skill, not just one you can master by reading a couple of books or going on a course. It takes years of reading about best practices, SEO and usability to truly know HTML and CSS, and if you can say you truly consider all these things when writing out your markup then you are worth a lot more than 12 dollars an hour. But if you’re just being paid to churn out html files without being concerned with these things then you’re right, 12 dollars an hour is pretty reasonable.

  34. 034 // Jeff Croft // 10.02.2007 // 7:16 PM

    I think there’s a big difference between knowing the HTML and CSS syntax and knowing how to do HTML and CSS.

    I agree completely. However, I’d still say neither knowing the HTML and CSS syntax or being a a great HTML and CSS coder makes one a designer.

    It takes years of reading about best practices, SEO and usability to truly know HTML and CSS, and if you can say you truly consider all these things when writing out your markup then you are worth a lot more than 12 dollars an hour.

    Although I think “years” is quite a stretch, I agree that it takes time to learn to do it right and that those who do it right are worth more than $12/hr. However, those who do it right still aren’t necessarily designers.

    I think you got a bit too caught up in my $12/hr statement and missed the real point I was getting at (not your fault — the $12/hr statement was too divisive for it’s own good). My real point was simply that HTML and CSS skills are not the same as design skills, and to call yourself a designer when your skill set only consists of is HTML and CSS is a misnomer.

  35. 035 // Brandy Reppy // 10.02.2007 // 8:31 PM

    I have to admit that when I first read this, I was a little annoyed. But, I kept reading the comments, and I hope that maybe I’ve come to a better conclusion.

    I think the controversy in all of what you wrote mainly comes from the fact that the only people who know what we do as developers, designers, UX experts, information architects, etc, are each other. I’d hope people in the industry all realize that the skills involved in being a good designer are a fundamentally different than the skills involved in being a good developer. (And, additionally, neither is more or less important in the collective process.)

    When it comes to job-seeking, we all take jobs that we probably aren’t quite qualified for. It’s also very difficult to explain the difference between a designer and a developer to someone who thinks you may be able to pitch in if the servers go down because, obviously, you work in computers.

    What I took from this is that if we are going to try to evangelize the importance of each of our roles and educate the job market on what we do, then designers who are simply front end developers who sometimes use Photoshop to make a new button are hurting the cause. And, in the end, if you don’t get weeded out and when you really ARE a designer, you can say it because you know you’ve done all of the work you’ve needed to get there.

  36. 036 // Austin Whittier // 10.03.2007 // 12:41 AM

    Clearly, putting together quality markup and styles can be considered design. You are, effectively, designing your code. So while I see your point, I’m confident you understand that’s not the kind of design I was talking about, and it’s not the kind of design most people think of when they hear the word “designer”.

    If someone cares about his code enough to make even it beautiful, then surely he must be a designer? If he is making code that looks jumbled and ugly then the result is almost always as bad as the code. While I have seen the occasional website that looks nice and has terrible code, 9 out of 10 times a good site has good code.

    This is probably true in theory, but in practice deadlines are necessary, and real work can’t get done without them. Surely you understand this?

    I understand why a deadline is important. But I believe that a good designer should be able to work effectively without a deadline and still keep the client happy.

    And please excuse the terrible grammar and irrelevance of my last comment. It was late and I was tired and I didn’t get my thoughts out correctly.

  37. 037 // Jeff Croft // 10.03.2007 // 12:57 AM

    If someone cares about his code enough to make even it beautiful, then surely he must be a designer?

    He is acting as the designer of the markup, yes. That’s an entirely different matter than designing the site’s layout, visual design, IA, and UI, though.

    But I believe that a good designer should be able to work effectively without a deadline and still keep the client happy.

    I’m just saying: if you have clients coming to you with no deadlines, you have the world’s greatest clients. Most of us aren’t so lucky. Most of us deal with clients that have strict deadlines and budgets. Most of us simply don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m a designer, so I need to talk a walk and mediate on this for a few hours a day for the next few weeks in order to do my best work.” That’s probably not what you meant, but that’s the impression I got — that designers need to be free of deadlines in order to maximize their creativity. I disagree — designers should embrace constraints like deadlines and budgets to help them find creative solutions.

    A project without a deadline is awesome — it also almost never exists in the real world. :)

  38. 038 // Mariam // 10.03.2007 // 3:10 AM

    Yeah, it’s sad to see more people focus on learning the tools and not the concepts of usability and beauty.

    As for the deadline, I find it the ultimate inspiration I can ever have.. It’s the challenge that keeps me going

  39. 039 // Brent O'Connor // 10.03.2007 // 9:38 AM

    Amen Brother! Preach it!

  40. 040 // Mark // 10.03.2007 // 12:44 PM

    Amen as well- as someone in the trenches of work, with no room for formal design school, can I pick your brain and ask where to start learning design? Where would you start and what would you do?

    Much appreciated.

  41. 041 // Ethan // 10.03.2007 // 3:10 PM

    Jeff, I’m not sure I follow your point here: do you really think this is a widespread problem? And if so, who exactly is it hurting? Some examples you’ve encountered might help me here.

  42. 042 // Jeff Croft // 10.03.2007 // 3:45 PM

    Hey Ethan: I don’t know if it’s a huge problem or if it’s actively hurting anyone (I don’t think I said it was). But I do know that there are a lot of folks who consider themselves “web designers,” but are really HTML and CSS coders. And there are a lot of employers who are trying to hire “web designers,” and are requesting their skill set be HTML and CSS (take a look through AuthenticJobs if you want examples).

    Again, I’m not sure how much of an issue this is. I don’t know if it’s hurting anymore or not. But it certainly confuses the matter of what a “web designer” really is. Imagine you’re at SXSW and you meet someone new. They say, “I’m a web designer at Washburn University in Topeka, KS.” What assumptions can you make about their skill set? Does that tell you much of anything about them? To me, the answer is no. They may mean they’re a visual designer for web pages — they work in Photoshop with layout, color, typography, and the like, creating beautiful pages. They may be an IA type that works in Visio or OmniGraffle, creating wireframes and planning out user interactions. They may be an HTML and CSS coder, who never “designs” anything, but rather builds out designs other people have handed off to them. They may be something else entirely. Or they may be some combination of all of these. The term “web designer,” then, is fairly meaningless.

    I think the people that have the potential to be hurt by this is those who are job seeking. A job description asks for a “web designer,” but it’s not entirely clear what that means. It’s sometimes difficult to assess whether you’re a good fit for a job or not. I know at least one person who applied for a job with a description something like this: “We’re looking for a web designer who is very experienced with HTML and CSS”…only to take the job and find out the company didn’t want a designer at all, they just wanted someone to build out other people’s designs.

  43. 043 // Eric // 10.03.2007 // 4:51 PM

    It just sounds like you’re frustrated by the confusion between front-end web developers and web designers.

    Assigning $ values to certain skill sets can get a pretty offensive. There are designers only worth $12/hour too ya know.

    Of course any occupation starts to pay more the better you are (even the ones that only ask you to write html and css).

  44. 044 // Jeff Croft // 10.03.2007 // 5:20 PM

    It just sounds like you’re frustrated by the confusion between front-end web developers and web designers.

    Well, I don’t know if frustrated is the right word, but that’s exactly what I’m concerned about, yes. Clearly you understand the difference — not everyone does.

    Assigning $ values to certain skill sets can get a pretty offensive. There are designers only worth $12/hour too ya know.

    If you read the comments, you know I’ve more or less retracted the $12/hr statement about five times now.

  45. 045 // Mathew Browne // 10.03.2007 // 6:40 PM

    At the risk of sounding like one of the many spammy, pretend-sycophantic “me too” comments that blogs tend to attract, I just have to say what a joy this was to read. You encapsulated eloquently - and a lot more politely than I could wish to - everything I feel about the state of the industry.

    I interviewed for a job the other day; I was assigned a test and allotted 1 hour to do it. Odd, I thought, but I went along with it. The task was to code (using Notepad) a clone of a webpage mock-up somebody had made in Paint. Essentially, a H1 tag, a paragraph, one image and a 2x2 table. All of which styled in the centre using CSS and an off-white background. Not too taxing, I got through it in about 5 minutes.

    While I was at it I took the time to have a good nose at what the others had made - most hadn’t even completed the task! Saying all you need to know - the market is flooded with “designers”.

  46. 046 // Julian // 10.03.2007 // 11:29 PM

    I wish I made $12/hour =(

  47. 047 // Jeff Croft // 10.03.2007 // 11:51 PM

    I wish I made $12/hour =(

    Employers under-paying for our services is another blog post entirely — but one that really needs to be written. :)

  48. 048 // Arik // 10.04.2007 // 1:43 AM

    Adobe Creative Suite = Great Web Designer, right? lol. The company I work for just hired one of these a couple weeks ago, their lack of knowledge and best practices are starting to show with each passing day.

  49. 049 // Jason // 10.04.2007 // 2:08 AM

    I realize I’m probably opening a can of worms with my comment, but here goes.

    I’m new in the web design field.

    Notice how I used “new” and “web design” in the same sentence. To continue on with your analogy Jeff, there are new “doctors” just out of school who can cut on someone and sew them up. There are new “architects” who can draw/design buildings.

    However, doctors and architects with 20 years in the business might look at those newbies and say: “Come back to me when you really know how to suture a proper incision.” or “Come ask me for a job when your buildings are REALLY designed well.”

    So, do we call these newbies Beginner Doctors? Architect Level 1? No, we call them Doctors and Architects. At least those of us who are neither.

    I guess what I’m getting at (and someone above alluded to it) is that many people (customers, employers, etc.) wouldn’t know great design or creativity if it bit them in the proverbial behind.

    I’m very critical of my own work. I know I can do better and I’m working very hard to learn true design skillsets you mention above. However, the few customers I’ve had so far have been very happy with my work and paid me well for it. So should I sell myself to them in this way? - “Hi, I’m Jason. I’m somewhat of a web designer.” or “I’m kind of a web designer.” or “I’m an okay web designer.”

    And besides, isn’t design (somewhat like art) in the eye of the beholder? Sure, a trained eye can pick up on far more details than Joe on the street. Sure there are also accepted design tenets that are considered to be standard industry “best practices”, but no one comes out of the womb knowing them all. We all read books, go to classes and work on it. Our first designs aren’t perfect. Our twentieth project is probably far better than our first.

    It’s probably safe to say that some great designers are made and others (the lucky ones) born but more often probably some combination thereof.

    So, don’t be too hard on us wanna-be superstars out in small-town America doing our best to be like almost everyone on this list who is evidently a real web “designer”. I would venture to say that not everyone above is a Web Designer Level 5. There are probably a few Level 3’s and 4’s up there.

    But who am I to say? I’m probably just a Level 2. But you know what? I know it. I also know that I will be a 3, 4 or perhaps even a 5 someday. I don’t bill myself as something I’m not. I’m honest with my customers concerning my capabilities. I understand my limitations and I’m working very hard to overcome them.

  50. 050 // David // 10.04.2007 // 7:02 AM

    IMHO, a good designer writing HTML+CSS is a bad business idea. I own a web firm and try to find a person that groks every part of the process. If you design for web, you should know the limitations of the medium, but not to the point where you code it yourself. That’s good for a one-two person shoop, but not for a business you want to grow.

    You need a computer-oriented person to code HTML and CSS, and a creative to make photoshop templates, and the two profiles are totally different.

  51. 051 // Arik // 10.04.2007 // 8:02 AM

    @Jason,

    No. That isn’t true at all.

  52. 052 // Ethan // 10.04.2007 // 10:01 AM

    But I do know that there are a lot of folks who consider themselves “web designers,” but are really HTML and CSS coders. And there are a lot of employers who are trying to hire “web designers,” and are requesting their skill set be HTML and CSS (take a look through AuthenticJobs if you want examples).

    Eh, I’m still inclined to think that this is a non-issue. Not to be supercapitalistic about it (yay, new word), but I think the hiring process will sort the issue out, Darwin-style: if someone’s portfolio doesn’t sync up with the label they’ve slapped on themselves, then his or her CV probably won’t survive very long.

    I think that our lexicon’s just in a continual state of development. Hell—six or seven years ago, everyone was into hiring “webmasters.” Eventually, the language caught up with the industry, and we’ve established a better vocabulary. Some folks might just still be in transition.

  53. 053 // Jeff Croft // 10.04.2007 // 10:34 AM

    @Jason: You’re talking about the differnece between good designers and bad ones. Or experienced ones and inexperienced ones. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the difference between designers and coders.

    I definitely recognize that everyone is new at some point and when you’re new you’re not likely to be as good. That’s fine. But a designer is a designer — and a designer is, to pt it briefly, someone who thoughtfully plans solutions to problems and means of communication. That’s what design is: problem solving and communication. A designer is not someone who codes HTML and CSS.

    Bottom line: if you’re handling the layout, typography, color, branding, usability, IA, and UI decisions for you’re client, then you’re a designer. You may be a new one or a bad one, but you’re still a designer. If you’re taking someone else’s designs and coding them in HTML and CSS, then you’re really not (although, as other’s have pointed out, you could say you are “designing” the markup).

    I’m sorry if that point was lost in my post. I’m not trying to be hard on new folks at all. I love new folks, and I make a point to help them out as much as possible. We were all there once. I’m not trying to be hard on people who simply aren’t very good, either. I’m just trying to make a distinction between designers — good or bad — and coders, that’s all.

  54. 054 // Jeff Croft // 10.04.2007 // 10:35 AM

    IMHO, a good designer writing HTML+CSS is a bad business idea.

    I would say it can be a bad business idea, but not always. When you get a jack of all trades, you often get a master of none. But, that’s not always true. Some of the best designers I’ve worked with have also been truly great HTML and CSS coders (Wilson Miner and Nathan Borror come to mind).

  55. 055 // David // 10.04.2007 // 10:54 AM

    But, that’s not always true. Some of the best designers I’ve worked with have also been truly great HTML and CSS coders

    In my experience, it’s much more difficult to find great designs than perfect HTML+CSS. So, a designer should be using photoshop (or pencil/paper) as much as possible.

    In fact, I agree with your post. Paying 100$/hour for a 12$/hour work is bad business, so, I’d hire a good HTML/CSS coder and a good designer and pay each one accordingly. For me, a great designer is worth her weight in gold.

  56. 056 // Jeff Croft // 10.04.2007 // 11 AM

    I agree, David — in general, it’s probably better to have one of each. I’m just noting that there are a handful of people out there who are truly great at both. They are few and far between, but they do exist.

  57. 057 // Jonathan // 10.04.2007 // 11:37 PM

    I agree with your distinction between front-end developers and web designers. However, I think in this discussion it is worth emphasizing the difference between design and web design, and I think the distance between them is greatly informed by a knowledge of HTML and CSS, and their capabilities and limitations.

    More times than I can remember, I have had to work with talented print designers who just didn’t “get” designing for the web, in terms of flexible or liquid layouts, changing browser window sizes and aspect ratios, let alone what can be done efficiently or at all with HTML/CSS. And let us not speak of typefaces, lest I weep.

    These things can only really be understood by knowing how web pages are built, and that comes from understanding HTML and CSS.

    So, I submit that while knowing HTML/CSS may not make you a designer, if you are working as a web designer and you don’t understand HTML/CSS, you are almost certainly not the designer you could be.

  58. 058 // Ace // 10.05.2007 // 12:21 AM

    I agree with you totally . Its been a trend here at the webmasters world that people like me , who know photoshop and css call our selves “Designers”, but actually we havnt even got a clue of what we are doing , we get knowledge by Tutorials and books and say , Look I am a Designer !! .

    Regards, Ace.

  59. 059 // Jeff Croft // 10.05.2007 // 1:27 AM

    However, I think in this discussion it is worth emphasizing the difference between design and web design, and I think the distance between them is greatly informed by a knowledge of HTML and CSS, and their capabilities and limitations.

    Totally right, but this is not new. In every design medium, it’s important for a design to understand the production process. Ask any print designer about paper, ink, and print processes, and they’ll be able to tell you basically how it all works and what the capabilities and limitations are, even if they are not a printer themselves. Ask someone who designs graphics for t-shirts about the various processes for printing on shirts, and they’ll be able to tell you all the do’s and don’t’s.

    The same should apply for web designers: web designers need to understand the implementation process in relative detail, even if they themselves aren’t involved with it.

  60. 060 // Shaal // 10.05.2007 // 6:27 AM

    The characteristics to be possessed by a mature and expert web developer only, and that is exactly the type of the person who everybody would like to do business and work with.

  61. 061 // Joshua Clanton // 10.05.2007 // 8:45 AM

    In my experience, it’s much more difficult to find great designs than perfect HTML+CSS. So, a designer should be using photoshop (or pencil/paper) as much as possible.

    While I agree that it is more difficult to find great designs than perfect HTML+CSS, I don’t think that it follows that a designer should avoid HTML+CSS in favor of “doing design” as you seem to suggest. For me at least, having a fairly thorough knowledge of HTML+CSS, and proficiency in coding allows me to achieve far more as a designer than I could otherwise.

  62. 062 // Jeff Croft // 10.05.2007 // 10:25 AM

    I don’t think that it follows that a designer should avoid HTML+CSS in favor of “doing design” as you seem to suggest.

    Of course a web designer shouldn’t avoid learning HTML and CSS, and I have no idea what you read that made you think I “seem to suggest” they should.

  63. 063 // Jason Beaird // 10.05.2007 // 11:22 AM

    Man, great article Jeff. You really hit on some things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I obviously touched on the topic in my Jam Session panel when I said “You have to know Photoshop if you want to be hirable as a web designer”. While I really do believe that knowing the tools (apps/languages/techniques) are required to get you in the door, they won’t make you a GOOD web designer. On the flip side of your doctor argument, how much worse would it be to go to a doctor who had experience and finesse, but knew nothing about current medical technology. I’ve worked with a lot of print and behind-the-times web designers out there that fit this metaphor. The bottom line is that web design and development is a constantly evolving industry that, despite it’s explosive growth and adoption, is still in its infancy. The knowledge base is so enormously broad that it’s hard for someone just coming to the table to know where to start. Then, after you’ve found your niche, trying to stay on top of the game is like drinking water from a fire hydrant. Personally though, that non-stop flow of information, techniques, inspiration, hot topics, and opinions is what I love about this field.

  64. 064 // Ross Johnson // 10.05.2007 // 5:01 PM

    Eh I don’t totally agree.

    Yes tools do not make your definition of a “designer.” However I disagree about the lack of value regarding good front end coding.

    You can learn XHTML/CSS/js in a week, but not very well.

    There is a lot of value to someone who can produce lean, bulletproof code that is accessible. That is where xhtml/css start taking judgment, design, ideas, creativity, and implementation.

  65. 065 // Kevin Wohler // 10.05.2007 // 5:06 PM

    What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    For what it’s worth, I am one of those people who ran into this issue repeatedly while trying to find a job. While I have good (and I mean good, not great) HTML and CSS skills, I repeatedly found myself unable to get interviews because job postings required a litany of program knowledge, including Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash, Quark, and Apple experience. Some of these jobs were listed as “web designer,” some as “desktop publishing” and others as “web content writer.” I learned early on to avoid “web developer” because I knew it was well beyond my meager skills.

    The point I’m trying to make is that there is no consistency in job definitions, and the people who are looking for work are the ones who suffer for it.

    Thankfully, I am now employed full-time at an advertising firm as a “content developer.”

    (My first instinct was to be annoying and ask Jeff what design training he had, but why quibble when he brings up a really good point?)

    Good job, Jeff.

  66. 066 // Jeff Croft // 10.05.2007 // 6:02 PM

    Yes tools do not make your definition of a “designer.” However I disagree about the lack of value regarding good front end coding.

    Did you read the comments? I have pretty much retracted that comment. I understand the value in good coding. I’m only saying that these skills are probably less valuable than great visual design skills.

  67. 067 // Jeff Croft // 10.05.2007 // 6:06 PM

    My first instinct was to be annoying and ask Jeff what design training he had…

    Heh. Touche, Kevin. :) While my training isn’t formal (as in, done at a University), I certainly feel like I have done a ton of training on visual design!

    But really, I’m trying to make a distinction between what people do, not how well they do it. This isn’t about whether you’re a good designer or not, it’s about whether you’re a designer or a markup coder. There’s a whole spectrum from great to terrible in both fields, but that’s irrelevant here. My point is that the tasks performed in each field is decidedly different (if related) — and yet, they both tend to go by the same names (“web designer,” “webmaster,” “web producer,” etc.).

    Thanks for bring a real-world example of how it hurts job seekers, Kevin! :)

  68. 068 // Sade Reed // 10.08.2007 // 9:41 AM

    Indeed. There is a rift that is swiftly closing between designers and coders. I think with Adobe’s integration of Macromedia, web design has become exponentially easier in terms of wysiwyg. I’m a print designer still struggling with web design, and few things irritates me more than a web coder who calls their bad self a designer. However, I know my sad little site is one to be sniffed at, so I usually hold my tongue.

    Like Bruce Mau says in his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, forget depending solely on software, because everyone has it. Speed, agility, and precision are any designer’s greatest strengths.

    Oh, and as an aside, I found your site from Khoi Vin’s blog, and I think I have another must-read.

  69. 069 // Angelo // 10.08.2007 // 11:47 AM

    Semantics.

    The typical divide of coders (back end types) and designers (front end types) needs to be (and is in the state of being) reassessed and realigned.

    Tools like django have realigned the role of ‘website programmer’ to ‘application architect’. the same will (and is) happening for interface professionals.

    I wouldn’t worry about what people claim to do - per Ethan’s comment, Darwinism is certainly alive and well. Rather, let’s focus on progress being made in elegantly bringing design & implementation together.

  70. 070 // Jason Davies // 10.10.2007 // 5:07 PM

    I want to be a great designer. I know HTML and CSS already, but where do I go to learn about layout, typography, design theory, empathy, etc.? 99% of the articles on the Web are about HTML and CSS syntax, and how to use hacks to get around browser incompatibilities. I was searching for good web design articles today and I got nowhere :-(

    Can you recommend any good books? Or should I take a design course?

  71. 071 // Alberto Mejias // 10.11.2007 // 10:08 PM

    Dear Mr. Croft,

    I have carefully read your article Tools Do Not A Designer Make and I would like to make four comments using my own experience.

    1- Regarding the part where you said ….”Forgive me if I sound harsh, but if your skill set is basically HTML and CSS, then I think you are worth maybe twelve bucks an hour. HTML and CSS are extremely simple languages anyone can learn in a weekend by picking up a good book or two. ”

    I have studied almost all my life because I enjoy learning new things. Four years ago I decided to study web designing and of course it has not being an easy road. Even though I have a certificate that says web designer, I don’t feel like one, and that’s why I keep studying and practicing every day, and trust me learning CSS does not take a weekend or a couple of good books. I started learning it in a class of 20 that required a web portfolio in CSS; at the end of one month no student could finish something that deserved a good grade. Every student was a graduate and worked in the media. You’re right, winning $12 dollars for making is not a lot considering all the knowledge that one must have, but everyone has to start with something.

    2- .. it devalues what real designers do.” I don’t understand your term “real designer”; I think that there are good designers, bad designers, designers that are just begging and others that are on top, maybe like you, but the thing that marks the difference in the market will be their personal work. I think that what makes a good professional is the attitude he or she has towards the job, not the diplomas he or she has acquired.

    3- … Ability to work under pressure. Experience. Empathy. Design theory.”

    Mr. Croft, with all respect, the experience is only valuable if one has skills, and like you said ability is a skill that one needs in his/her professional field accompanied by others (Photoshop, CSS , PHP and so on)

    4- Last but not least …If being a great web designer is your goal, I would suggest most of your time ought not be spent on learning tools.”

    Mr. Croft, to be a great web designer you need to be first gifted with creativity and also elements such as good taste, hard work, and also have the guts to sit down in front of a computer for hours, but second you need know and understand the basic skills.

    Yes, I think your article was harsh. Alberto

  72. 072 // Jeff Croft // 10.11.2007 // 11:11 PM

    Mr. Croft, to be a great web designer you need to be first gifted with creativity and also elements such as good taste, hard work, and also have the guts to sit down in front of a computer for hours, but second you need know and understand the basic skills.

    This is my position almost exactly. I agree, you need to have good taste, hard work, passion, epthay, creativity, and more — and you also need to know the basic skills. What are the basic sills for a designer? Layout. Typography. Color theory. And so forth. These are the basic tools for a designer — not HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS are the basic skills for a front-end web developer. If you want to be both, that’s awesome — but don’t pretend they’re the same thing, because they’re not.

  73. 073 // Justin // 10.15.2007 // 8:29 PM

    For the most part, I would concur with the is said in your posting. That being said though, knowing typography, color theory, etc, may make you a designer, perhaps a great designer, but do not mistake knowing these skills as someone who is capable of designing an effective user interface. I have seen the some of the most provoking designs for various websites, but their effective usability is zero.

    A good, effective designer is someone who is capable of knowing the nuances of web languages along with what traditional design skills brings and adding information architecture to mix. To top it off they should also know the appropriateness of their design and how people will interact with it.

    All too often, I have seen “designer” after “designer” fall into either the form or the functionality category. The great ones can find that fine demarcation line and have perfect harmony.

  74. 074 // Jeff Croft // 10.15.2007 // 9:03 PM

    …but do not mistake knowing these skills as someone who is capable of designing an effective user interface.

    Right. Interaction design is definitely a different skillset from visual design (which is a different skillset from front-end coding). Of course, it’s totally possible to have one person who is a capable interaction designer, visual designer, and a good front-end coder. I’d like to think I fall into that category (although I’m definitely better at some of those things than others). But they’re still three different skillsets, and many times they’re performed by three different people (this is often the case at Blue Flavor).

    This really underscores the real point I was trying to make, here, albeit from a different angle: web design is multi-disciplinary. Very multidisciplinary. It requires many, many different skillets to create a wonderful web experience. And yet, we basically have two titles: web designer and web developer. Yes, there are others, but they’re pretty niche and few people, even in the industry, actually use them.

  75. 075 // Mike Coleman // 10.16.2007 // 2:51 PM

    I’ll admit, after reading your article I was discouraged. I didn’t know what to make of what I was doing by learning HTML/CSS and the aforementioned tools. But after reading everyone’s comments I’ve learned that there are two different animals. I am a coder, I won’t ever be a designer and I can live with that. I’ve always believed this, but never had it explained so clearly. I’d like to thank everyone here for helping me to understand where I can fit in and what I can learn more effectively.

    I believe that design can be learned over time, but it should indeed be left to the more creative people. For example, I’ve worked on a few sites alone and I was happy with the way they worked and looked, but they were very “matter of fact”. Recently I worked with someone, who has no background in web design or skills with any of the tools, but is a designer by nature, he designed and I coded the best site I’ve ever worked on. I just reinforced what someone said earlier, some are architects some are construction workers.

  76. 076 // Jeff Croft // 10.16.2007 // 3:18 PM

    Hey Mike: Just to be clear, I definitely don’t think design is purely the domain for born creatives. You may not be a designer today, but there’s no reason you couldn’t learn to be quite competent if you wanted to. Just like you can learn to be an architect, you can, too, learn to be a designer. You may never be Frank Ghery (I know I won’t!), but you can learn to be competent, if you want to. On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel bad about “just” being a coder, either. We need coders, too!

    As you said, though, it’s two different animals — you won’t become a great designer by learning HTML and CSS. And that, really, was my point. :)

  77. 077 // Mike Coleman // 10.17.2007 // 9:46 AM

    Jeff: I didn’t think you were saying that design was just for the born creative. I was just speaking from my personal experience. I’m a linear guy, so the free flowing design eye escapes me. But, but, working with my friend was refreshing because I didn’t have the added pressure to create, simply to translate his ideas. That alone was helpful to my creative process because it removed that pressure and allowed me to just work, which helped me be more creative as a result.

    But I do agree, just be learning HTML and CSS won’t give you a designer’s eye and I’m a perfect example. I think a few people took your article as a personal attack rather than you just saying what you think a designer should be defined as and valued for.

  78. 078 // Al Chen // 10.27.2007 // 7:57 PM

    Another story to tackle should be a design does not a information architect made.

    The web is littered with good ‘interior decorator’ web designers but pass themselves off as ‘architect’ web designers. Decorating a site is different than designing a site, sadly, many designers don’t understand that either.

  79. 079 // Andy Harris // 10.27.2007 // 11:27 PM

    I’m definitely in alien territory here.

    I’ll make you all mad with my posting, but read on…

    I’m a coder’s coder. I’ve written books on XHTML/CSS, PHP/MySQL, Web development, Flash, and all the other “construction trades” you refer to. (Look me up on Amazon if you want.)

    I started by writing Gopher pages. (remember those?) I convinced our computer science department we ought to install this thing called a “web browser” (it was Mosaic) in our labs. I’ve been teaching web development full-time since there was a web.

    I get furious with my programming students when they start to act arrogant and superior when they talk about designers. The common perception among coders is that designers dream up some scheme that’s impossible to implement, then go off sipping their latte espresso while the coder rolls up his sleeves and makes the dang thing work.

    I couldn’t agree more with the importance of design, but I urge this community to show the same restraint I urge on coders. How about a little less arrogance, huh?

    You’ve retracted the $12/hr statement, and you will, no doubt retract the construction worker analogy, but these statements illustrate the kind of thinking that makes coders really frustrated with designers.

    Show me what book teaches you HTML and CSS in a weekend. I hope it was one of mine. I must be a really slow learner, because I’ve been working on these skills for my entire adult life (probably at least as long as you’ve been learning layout, typography, and the like.) I still haven’t mastered them, and never will. If I don’t let my students belittle the amount of effort you’ve put into skills they don’t understand, perhaps the design community should show the same courtesy to coders.

    (part II coming in a separate post)

  80. 080 // Andy Harris // 10.27.2007 // 11:31 PM

    Coder’s Rant part II It’s Andy again, from the last post

    I wasn’t going to write until I got to the “architect / construction worker” analogy. I think it’s arrogant and mean-spirited (and ultimately incorrect.)

    My point, really, wasn’t to dog HTML and CSS builder. It’s an important job, for sure. But it’s not the same as design. It’s the same as the difference between architects and construction workers. You need both, but one skill set is more valuable than the other, and one is more based on judgement, intuition, and other less-quantifiable traits than the other.

    You can’t really believe that a web coder is merely a construction worker, do you? I’m afraid you might, and your readers might agree. Worse, I think you might really believe that the visual designer is the architect of web projects.

    Here’s the thing designers often miss: The web isn’t about documents anymore! There’s no such thing as a web coder who only knows HTML and CSS (in fact even straight HTML is pretty much deprecated, as you know. XHTML strict is the way to go.) The web today is not about pages or documents, but about applications. Anybody who tries to make a living as an HTML coder today is sadly out of touch (and likely out of work.)

    Web coders don’t create web pages that much any more. They create -programs- that create web pages. Most of the time, the program is built on top of a complex data structure with a multi-tier architecture spanning several machines and multiple languages.

    A typical web project for even a small company today almost always involves some sort of relational data back end. This in itself is an art form (yes, I said art) that very few master. It’s also necessary to consider the aesthetic aspects of the front end (which are certainly important but can be changed later, unlike poor data decisions)

    Some sort of middle-tier code has to be written in a full-fledged programming language like Java, ASP.NET or PHP. I think you can agree these languages are not trivial to learn, especially if you’re expected to know more than one (as any decent web developer will be.)

    This language creates the visual language - the XHTML and CSS (and perhaps some local JavaScript / Flash, or the like.)

    Imagine a person who can see the entire process - from data design to middle layer to visual layout - and who can make all those aspects work together in a project that really works. -That’s- an architect. That’s the person that can integrate the art and the science.

    This ‘architect’ may hire others to do some of the work. If you insist on calling the HTML / CSS coders (who generally don’t exist) construction workers, the folks on the visual side would more aptly be considered interior designers.

    (one more posting, then I’ll shut up and listen.)

  81. 081 // Andy Harris // 10.27.2007 // 11:38 PM

    Coder’s Rant - concluded (finally)

    You mention how coding is more quantifiable than design. I agree, but that doesn’t mean that design is somehow inherently superior simply because it’s more difficult to measure.

    Here’s what I think is really going on. A few years ago, you could make a living with HTML, and it was pretty easy to learn. Today, you can’t. You’ve got to have something else, so you either become a coder or a designer.

    The skills of a coder are quantifiable to a point - You can either create a database-driven PHP app that develops standards-compliant XHTML/CSS or you can’t. It’s pretty easy to discern that somebody -isn’t- a coder.

    The job of a designer is a lot harder to nail down, because it’s more subjective. There still is a difference between average and great designers, but it’s a lot harder to prove.

    People who used to make their living as HTML coders find themselves facing clients who want a three-tier data-driven app, and they have to decide whether they’ll learn all that coding or emphasize another part of their skill set. I see a lot of people now claiming to be web designers simply because they know they can’t claim with a straight face to be modern web programmers.

    It’s easy to prove somebody doesn’t know PHP and MySQL. It’s a lot harder to prove they don’t know how to design.

    Honestly, I think this is why coders have a hard time taking people who call themselves ‘web designers’ seriously. We’ve seen too many people who call themselves designers as soon as they realize they’ll never be coders - not because they have any actual skill at design.

    I promise to keep teaching coders to respect and admire their brothers and sisters on the design side of the house, but please reciprocate.

    Please don’t trivialize the skill sets of coders. That practice is what makes designers look haughty (and to be honest, foolish) in the eyes of developers who’ve spent years learning their craft as you have.

  82. 082 // Jeff Croft // 10.28.2007 // 1:56 AM

    Andy: When i said HTML and CSS authors are like construction works and are worth less than designers, I meant it. They are. It’s a fact. Get over it.

    However, I wasn’t talking generically about “coders.” I was talking about HTML and CSS authors, which is why I said HTML and CSS authors. If you’re a programmer working in JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, .NET, Java, and so forth, then are most certainly have a very valuable skill. If all you do is simple markup and CSS, then you don’t have a very valuable skill. Period. I’m sorry if that offends you, but it’s fact. There is no one in this world who gets paid more than designers and programmers to do only HTML and CSS. They just don’t. That makes it less valuable.

    This is why most HTML and CSS experts are also something else. I’m also a designer. Jonathan Snook is also a programmer. Nick Finck is also an Information Architect. And so forth.

    I stand by my point: HTML and CSS alone is not a very valuable skill set. I never said “coding” wasn’t a valuable skill set.

  83. 083 // Andy Harris // 10.28.2007 // 9:47 PM

    Jeff, I think we’re mainly in violent agreement.

    HTML and CSS are not sufficient today. When I meet with young folks wanting to get into technology (which happens pretty much every day) I insist that they learn another side.

    Frankly, the biggest problem is schools on both the computing and design sides that simply teach the tools without either a deeper knowledge of the information or design side.

    People think they can take a shortcut, when only talent tuned by hard work and experience really matter, regardless of the particular part of web work you focus on.

    Really, we shouldn’t be thinking of HTML/CSS developers any more than we think of word processors as people rather than software. It’s just a tool.

    Reviewing your work on web standards, I can see that you are indeed passionate about getting these tools right, as I am.

    As much as the general tone of your arguments made me frustrated, I completely agree with your original assertion. HTML and CSS are indeed not enough today. At the same time, it’s worth learning them properly and treating them as the foundational tools they are.

    I applaud you for your success in the design side of things. I honestly think it’s harder to make a mark there than it is in the programming side.

  84. 084 // David Hopkins // 10.29.2007 // 5:17 PM

    A very interesting post. I had always thought of colour theory and other skills/knowledge bases as an important part of design, but not considered them from your angle. From the point of view of trying to find a good designer or programmer these really ring true, although most candidates don’t even have a good grasp of the tools of the trade.

    Two attributes you missed out that I think are particularly important are:

    1 - Perfectionism. This can be an ambiguous one as too much perfection and you wont be able to make a living as a web developer or hold down a steady job, but not enough and you will be confined to the dark corners of the development profession.

    2 - Willingness to Learn - A lot of designers/developers I have come across don’t have any aspirations to increase their skill set, the ones that do are the ones that are worth their pay check.

  85. 085 // NatalieMac // 10.29.2007 // 7:41 PM

    …if your skill set is basically HTML and CSS, then I think you are worth maybe twelve bucks an hour. HTML and CSS are extremely simple languages anyone can learn in a weekend by picking up a good book or two.

    Ouch

    As a front-end developer, it’s my job to take Photoshop comps from design and code from engineering and actually make the web site work. My skill set? Mainly HTML and CSS. Sprinkle in some JavaScript, a little PHP, standards, usability and accessibility, and I’m worth and am paid well over $12 an hour.

    And I didn’t learn it all in a weekend.

    In the world of web-work, there’s plenty of room for people with many different skill sets. And we all deserve to be appreciated and valued for what we bring to the table.

  86. 086 // Jeff Croft // 10.29.2007 // 7:57 PM

    @Natalie: If you are sprinkling in all of those things, you are are most certainly not just and HTML/CSS author, and are most certainly worth more than $12 an hour. You’re also not one of the people I was talking about. :)

    Sounds to me like you’ve got some programming skills (JS, PHP, etc.) and some design skills (usability), as as as some accessibility expertise. All of these things make you a lot more marketable and valuable than the typical HTML and CSS author.

  87. 087 // Chloe Edwards // 02.03.2008 // 2:36 PM

    I run a web design business and employ server members of staff, never in my web career have i ever come across someone who is really good at design and programming. I think they require a different mind set and i’m a firm believer in paying people to do what there good at.

  88. 088 // Kenny Meyers // 02.18.2008 // 10:34 PM

    You my friend, sure know how to get a rise out of people.

    Here’s the biggest problem with your argument: Subjectivity.

    HTML, CSS & Photoshop are defined tools. By knowing them you meet a requirement.

    Typography, layout, color… these are subjective based upon culture, race, even creed. These sort of ideas can change and what was once considered good layout, or great color is now flat. Let alone trends, for example your brown has been making a comeback as a vintage 1970s look has been returning. In 5 years, this may not be the case.

    Because design is not quantifiable, but tools are. If you can come up with a standard measurement for “great typography” that doesn’t incorporate perceptions and preference, I will buy you two Apple-tinis.

    That being said, I’ve always been a fan of the weigh a designer next to a goose method.

  89. 089 // Jeff Croft // 02.18.2008 // 11:36 PM

    Kenny-

    You’re totally right that design is more subjective, whereas tools are something that can be more easily measured. However, that does not mean that good design is not recognizable. Just because good design is based upon, as you point out, culture, trends, and the like doesn’t mean we don’t know it when we see it — we do. A good designer ought to be able to look at a piece and say, “This is wonderful. Sure, it doesn’t fit current trends, but the core principles of design are in tact, and the piece serves the goals of the project.”

    Also, the core tenets of design are really not that subjective. Design’s purpose is to come up with elegant solutions to complex problems. Just about anyone can look at a piece of design (be it architecture, graphic design, web design, fashion design, or interior design), and make an assessment as to whether or not it successfully solves the inherent problems and meets the stated goals of the project. Put simply: just because my taste doesn’t tend towards a country kitchen with oak chairs, a handmade clock with apples pained on it, and a miniature box on the wall doesn’t mean I’m not able to recognize when someone has pulled of that style well. I’m not really a fan of eskimo jackets, but I can definitely identify them as a design success, because they completely solve the problems at hand. Style is only a subset of what design is. Layout, typography, color, and the other core disciplines of graphic design are not just about style. They’re about communication. No matter what style you’re working within, the same basic principles apply.

    Saying, “great design is subjective, so it’s not possible for us to recognize and hire great designers,” would be a major copout. I agree that great design is much harder to measure than how many tools one’s skillset includes, but we are certainly capable of recognizing great design, so we ought to be capable of incorporating it as a requirement into job descriptions and interviews.

  90. 090 // Peter // 02.25.2008 // 4:09 PM

    A designer needs good tools, but a his tools don’t make him a good designer. True.

  91. 091 // Professional Web Design | Web Design Romania | Flash Web Design // 03.07.2008 // 11:24 AM

    Definitely the tools won’t make someone a designer. Knowing how to work with colors, imagination and the final result of your work, make you a designer.

    Knowing html/css is a + for a designer, but does not make him a designer; maybe coder

    Experience is also a plus for you as a designer, this way you get clients faster.

    Working under pressure is also a plus and should be paid for. Meaning that if I have a project that normally I’d be finising in 14 days and the client asks for the project to be finished in 7 days, then the price will rise and from my experience people don’t seem to understand that. They don’t understand that time is money :)

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  93. 093 // Dan McClellan // 03.30.2008 // 9:27 AM

    You are right. I would go as far as to say that being a good designer requires skill with no specific tools as long as you understand design and can communicate visually and effectively. God made Code Nerds for a reason. People who get rutted into software will always take a back seat to real visual communicators.

  94. 094 // Chris Harold // 04.04.2008 // 8:54 PM

    True dat. I reckon that you can’t label yourself as a designer if you don’t know the basics of design. Too many people do this. Good comments!

  95. 095 // Manchester Web Design // 04.08.2008 // 3:30 PM

    Wow what a discussion we have here, everyone has definitely loved this, looking at the amount of replies.

    I think most deisngers forget the basics, its part of human nature and it happens to us all, but i strongly agree every so often we need to slap ourselves and more than likely read some material we haven’t touched for a while.

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  98. 098 // personalized cutom dog tags // 04.23.2008 // 5:51 AM

    So where do I learn the basic of web design? The web? :) Ive got the tools and somehow knows how to use it.

  99. 099 // Reynder Bruyns // 04.30.2008 // 1:31 PM

    I started off as a graphic designer with a classic education and lator on I got in contact with webdesign and it’s tools. The calssic education gives me so much extra room to work with when designing a website. I noticed with the young designers nowadays that they start with the tools and then think about design. I’m an Art Director now and I still get furious when I see a designer come with an already ‘ designed’ idea of a website the same day he got the briefing. Look around explore, do stupid things, bump your head and experience!

  100. 100 // DazzleCat // 05.08.2008 // 8:13 AM

    just cos you own a hammer it dont make you a carpenter so it is so with designers

  101. 101 // KLS // 05.09.2008 // 1:57 PM

    Jeff, thank you for this post. I couldn’t agree more, I wish I could show this to any of those studios/companies that call me for interview. Then again, I’ll know for sure they’re not my type and it’s not my loss.

    Still, people should be made aware of this.

  102. 102 // Claire Search // 05.12.2008 // 12:54 AM

    I can see your point, i suppose it does take a lot to define a web designer. I think the main parts that make you a good web designer is obviously a good all round knowledge to be able to develop almost any site a customer wants, as well as great design skills, together with great time management and good with deadlines.

    I have found that web design alone is not enough, and that incorporating optimisation skills both in-site and off-site is equally as important.

    As i am a young designer, i have learnt the basics of CSS and HTML as well as the Javascript i need to know, and from this i have been able to develop well designed sites and optimise them really well for the customer.

    I would say that i am a web designer, as although i have learnt the basics of HTML, CSS, Javascipt, i have studied graphic design, colours, type etc, can optimise, do flash, but at the same time you are constantly learning. I can’t wait until 10 years time comes, when i have perhaps learnt programming and even more.

  103. 103 // Matthew 'Web Design' Adams // 06.10.2008 // 4:46 AM

    I totally agree that knowing just html and css doesnt make you a web designer.

    I am fully able with all the relevent tools and languages but the difference between what i can do and somoene who is a ‘designer’ can be huge.

    Learning the tools is just one step in becoming a designer.

  104. 104 // Warkworth // 06.11.2008 // 6:27 PM

    I agree, its a great article. A lot of web design companies in my area are small and only employ two or three staff that are expected to code, design and even write copy.

  105. 105 // Getoninter.net Website Development // 06.15.2008 // 1:32 PM

    Ive only been involved properly in website industry for about a year. I learn new things every day and the industry moves so fast. I started my company up with a few friends from school they is simply to much to do for 1 person, great post i enjoyed reading it

  106. 106 // Paul Aspden // 07.04.2008 // 11:59 PM

    10 years ago I would have called myself a web designer. It’s exactly what clients were expecting to hear. It sold many sites and most clients where happy.

    Today with much water passed under the bridge, the business i started with 2 friends has grown alongside our clients understanding of what we do as a team.

    Although as a creative team we are ultimately responsible for designing a solution that meets the clients brief, no single person can be classed as a web designer.

    Everyone at our company is a designer but in very different ways.

    We have people who are great at visual and aesthetic design.

    We have people who are great at system design.

    We have programmers who are great at function / class design.

    Yes there are individuals that do it all. But i have not met one yet that can do it as well as a team of designers that communicate well.

    That said anyone who thinks that because you have studied design earns you a badge of honor to use the title designer over somone else is simply misguided. Anyone can be a designer I have see 5 year olds design effectively with whatever medium is in front of them.

    I do find myself laughing inside when especially graphic designers think they have a monopoly on the word “designer”. LOL

  107. 107 // AnneH // 07.15.2008 // 9:27 AM

    @ Paul Aspden: With that reductive use of the term design, then almost anything web related involving decisions could be ‘design’. We’re talking the classic definition of design here, such as someone who designs a chair - usability and beauty, rather than the person who actually crafts it. …

    I do think that this issue wounds a lot of egos. I’m a coder, back and front end, who came to realise that having a set of “acronym” skills (however elegantly, beautifully, craftily applied) wouldn’t make a good designer, even though I “knew” how to put a web site together, the details, the nuts and bolts. I’m making my first cautious foray into design, and am blown away by how much skill there is that I have to learn. I mean, I just learnt what typography was! Contrast vs balance! Line, form, texture, harmony, colour theory, etc.! The sheer psychology of knowing how these elements affect the user, and why. How to design requires a completely different part of the brain. With code, give me user requirements and I’m off at a run through the gate - logic and intuition are my happy friends for weeks as I lovingly craft complex confections of code. With design… there’s something else going on… non-linear, holistic, that has to be drawn out of a deep well, or void, that has to be seeded from anywhere and everywhere. Human considerations intrude also and they are never quite linear; context is complex. In my personal life I design and construct clothing for others from scratch, and I’m well aware of the different between the ideas (usability + beauty…), and the implementation. (Many brilliant successful fashion designers only know enough sewing to inform/delimit their design.) For me, coming up with the ideas are more scary and uncertain… I find I’m drawn to creating visuals that will get seen and played with, but perhaps because I live in my left brain most of the time, I’ll always be more of a coder at heart, I suspect!

    Coders/geeks are primarily driven by the desire to know, to control their world by knowledge, and the quantifiable. (The NTs, intuitive-thinkers.) It’s understandable and predictable that knowing ‘how’ to do something sometimes seems to be the sum of making that thing. Employers have a tendency to fall into this too because they are usually lazily/ignorantly/timidly grasping at the quantifiable, the “yes/no” criteria. I’d hope they’d recognise good sensible intuitive attractive user-focused design when they see it… but this isn’t a given.

  108. 108 // Firebubble Design // 07.25.2008 // 2:02 AM

    I feel you are being slightly harsh about the role of a web designer. A web designer in terms of the industry is expected to be able to design, but if thats the only web talents they have, they would fail.

    CSS, HTML and things like SEO aren’t as easy to learn to a professional level as you make out.

  109. 109 // Firebubble Design // 07.25.2008 // 2:14 AM

    I feel you are being slightly harsh about the role of a web designer. A web designer in terms of the industry is expected to be able to design, but if thats the only web talents they have, they would fail.

    CSS, HTML and things like SEO aren’t as easy to learn to a professional level as you make out.

  110. 110 // Firebubble Design // 07.25.2008 // 2:35 AM

    I feel you are being slightly harsh about the role of a web designer. A web designer in terms of the industry is expected to be able to design, but if thats the only web talents they have, they would fail.

    CSS, HTML and things like SEO aren’t as easy to learn to a professional level as you make out.

  111. 111 // Adrian Rodriguez // 07.29.2008 // 10:16 AM

    Great article. As a newbie in this I have learned a lot about using certain programs and all. For instance I use Microsoft Expression Design and Photoshop elements 2.0, both free, but I used to think it limited me, especially since I learned to design using Photoshop 7. I know now that this is not the case, as is the same for Html and CSS. There are plenty of designers out there who have had a longer experience in the coding world than I have, but some of the work says otherwise. Thanks again for the article. God Bless.

  112. 112 // Disabled Designer // 08.05.2008 // 9:24 AM

    If you get paid for i quote “Ability to work under pressure. Experience. Empathy. Design theory. Design history. Opinions and Decisions” . Then this makes you good at making decisions and working under pressure, opinions, design theory etc and does not qualify you as a good designer.

    These qualities may make you a good employee but not necessary a good designer. I have learnt PHP, HTML, CSS, photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash etc over the last 2 years and have come across various challenging aspects, to say you can learn these in a weekend is an insult to all designers.

    What even qualifies ‘learn a language or programs’. There are still tools i come across on photo shop that enhance my designs all the time.

    What makes a good designer in my eyes is a good skill set, good eye for design, creative, ambitious, absorbing and the ability to move with the times.

  113. 113 // SJL Web Design // 08.08.2008 // 2:36 PM

    To say you can learn html and css over a weekend is a complete oversight, I would trust anyone to design a site after only learning the code for 2 days. You sound more like a marketer than a designer.

  114. 114 // Mortgage AL // 08.18.2008 // 2:03 PM

    Here here, i agree with the noble SJL web design. a clue for the talent of british web designers. type in ‘web design’ in the americann google. now do the same in google.co.uk. on the first page look at the standard and compare the skill levels.

    Jeff right a post about that.

  115. 115 // MaverickKK // 09.19.2008 // 4:55 PM

    Yahooooo

  116. 116 // FMN Media // 10.28.2008 // 7:31 AM

    It is true anyone can learn XHTML and css over a weekend, but its those who can apply it best!

  117. 117 // sir html sucker // 11.18.2008 // 10:35 AM

    you can learn xhtml and css over a weekend? thats pretty amazing, I couldnt thats for sure.

  118. 118 // Tracey // 11.24.2008 // 2:18 AM

    Probably a year too late posting a comment here, but it might just make me feel better. I’ve been toying with the idea of pursuing a personal interest in ‘making web pages’ (I dare not use the term design because I do not have any design background whatsoever!) So far I have learnt enough to do some basic stuff for fun (and the local sports club), and to muck around on a blog. I want to do more, so I was thinking about a longer course. Until I read this post. And felt most unworthy of being able to call myself either a web developer or designer.

    Until I looked at this page, and then I decided that “design” really was in the eye of the beholder. Irony, that. Or isn’t this blog worthy of legible, easy-on-the-eye design? Maybe there is hope for me after all.

  119. 119 // Webtiful web design SEO // 02.25.2009 // 8:08 PM

    Great article….

  120. 120 // Landlord Steve // 04.08.2009 // 2:50 PM

    I have struggled to learn xhtml and css over 2 months! a weekend is pretty amazing..

  121. 121 // Justin Lowery // 04.14.2009 // 12:53 AM

    I really love your insight on the matter of web design as a true form of art & expression vs. the oh-so-common disease of looking at web design as merely a set of tools & languages. Thanks for putting it so clearly. Very well said. I couldn’t agree more. I would definitely hire you, if I were a client.

  122. 122 // Plastering London // 04.22.2009 // 2:24 AM

    Thanks for the cool article, I thought XHTML and CSS just relatively easy compared to server-side languages like PHP.

  123. 123 // Sheesham // 05.11.2009 // 9:10 AM

    Thanks for the cool article Jeff, I picked up XHTML in an afternoon…

  124. 124 // charlotte // 05.14.2009 // 11:01 PM

    Webdesigners are not developers and developers are not designers because they have diffrent mindsets.

    Not to mention that these are two seperate degrees, one being “graphic webdesign” the other “Computer Science, which could have a concentration in numerous diffrent subjects” for example data base development, network security, analyst ect.

    Webdesigners/graphic designers get paid considerably less while web developers tend to get paid between 20-30 grand more because thier job is so complex.

    A hybrid designer can do both design & develop these people are exstremely rare and talented they should without a doubt be overly compensated, to discourage them from leaving.

    As a hybrid i get pissed when ” i see employers post the postion webdesigner/developer as one and try to offer 26,000. Are you smoking crack employers? When i get to the interview i often bring expert documentation which defines the two as two seperate careers and if they want me to do two jobs on one salary they need two tripple the numbers, As many languages and progams a developer/designer knows that should be a no brainer.

  125. 125 // Joe Landlords // 05.16.2009 // 1:59 PM

    Good response Charlotte, couldn’t agree more!

  126. 126 // Tyres Bedford // 05.27.2009 // 8:21 AM

    Charlotte does make an excellent point!

  127. 127 // Pushchairs // 06.08.2009 // 12:18 PM

    To be honest, I have to agree too. Whilst I have no beef with dreamweaver, hearing new web designers talking about reading the dummies guide to dreamweaver to learn HTML & CSS makes me grimace. Let alone calling themselves designers :)

  128. 128 // Gibbs // 08.11.2009 // 3:03 AM

    Completely agree. Being a Linux user I think I failed to get a few jobs a few years back based on the fact I don’t have extensive knowledge of Dreamweaver. I was completely miffed by it as coding and markup are the same in whatever text editor you use…

  129. 129 // Neoteric Website designers // 08.24.2009 // 11:33 PM

    Good article!! Well i guess it all depends on one’s capability how quick one can learn the css and XHTML and the imp part comes in applying it when required..But reading everyone opinion in this made me little surprise but was good

    Thanks everyone

  130. 130 // Webspace Anbieter // 08.26.2009 // 5:57 AM

    interesting ….

  131. 131 // Kosmetikstudio Ulm // 08.26.2009 // 6:20 AM

    nette Meinungen gibt’s hier… das muss man schon sagen.

  132. 132 // Klimatechnik // 09.02.2009 // 2:46 PM

    Very nice resource, thanks so much.

  133. 133 // SEO Manchester // 09.26.2009 // 9:44 AM

    I think you hit the nail right on the head there by saying that a true designer can design and a coder can code. It’s far easier for a designer to learn to code but for a coder to learn design is like trying to ice skate up-hill.

    I think you’re right-on and as an employer we do believe in such ethics when it comes to selecting people.

    Well said.

  134. 134 // Baby Pushchairs // 10.05.2009 // 4:49 AM

    I kind of agree, a friend and i constantly argue about natural ability in sport, nature or nurture, which kind of compliments what you are saying.

    I always errr on the side of nature, if you have it you have it

    Thats not to say some one cant be good at something if they train with the right tools, they just wont have that edge

  135. 135 // SEO Manchester // 10.09.2009 // 12:04 AM

    An eye for good design is more of an innate talent - one that I certainly don’t posses, but thankfully our design team have it in bucketloads. Mind you, I do also think you have to be of a particular mindset to become an excellent programmer - I don’t think it’s something that just anyone can do!

  136. 136 // Web Design Manchester // 11.09.2009 // 4:51 PM

    Sure, Dreamweaver and other tools have simplified the design process overall and allowed beginners to learn as they design, but creativity and logic is something you can’t teach, no matter how many courses or tutorials you watch.

  137. 137 // registry winner review // 01.11.2010 // 3:17 AM

    If you have a good design skill that would be easy to get good job.

  138. 138 // KIRSTEN26tG // 01.13.2010 // 1:03 PM

    Your nice knowledge would be fashionable as the cellphone ringtones at the phones ringtones firm used to be.

  139. 139 // Viagra // 01.23.2010 // 9:03 AM

    Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing …

    rH3uYcBX

  140. 140 // Eugene // 02.08.2010 // 11:52 PM

    This is an age old problem with many professions - not just web design. Experience in the actual “Design” field is what I always look for. Tools can be learned very easily and are always changing. I feel that the emphasis on tools sometimes comes from laziness on the part of the people on the interview team. They quickly put together a list of tools and use it as a checklist to determine the qualifications of the candidate. Asking relevant open ended questions and reviewing past work takes too much time. We all need to take responsibility for identifying, hiring, and developing staff that contribute to the mission of our companies.

  141. 141 // Cep giydir // 02.12.2010 // 9:06 PM

    I agree, not all does have tools a make you a pro. It’s an Indian and Bow and Arrow proverbials. You know what i mean.

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