Should Designers Know How to Code?

The issue of  designers being able to develop their own code is a topic I have read and listened to quite a bit lately. Having started out working the Web as a graphic designer, I realized years ago the importance of being able to code what I designed. I even went back to school several years ago to take related IT courses and get a computing degree. My initial reason for going, was to be able to speak the language of those I was asking to assist me at my workplace. After classes on everything from Java to C++, I started to truly appreciate the complexity and issues involved in programming, which allowed me to design with development in mind. Especially when building interface designs.

I started learning how to code for the web back in 1995, and taught myself by the old view source method. It was extremely difficult at first because my brain wasn’t wired that way. But once things started clicking and I realized I could have the best of both worlds, designing and coding, life got a lot easier and more challenging. It is a never ending pursuit of standards, trends, and creative madness.

For any web graphic designer, you must learn how to work under the hood. It doesn’t mean you have to be able to dissect javascript or load your own WordPress server, but you need to own up to what it means to be a web designer. Both ends of the spectrum have arrogant aholes, programmers who look down at graphic design as digging ditches, and designers who look at programmers as fodder for TV shows. But the best approach is to develop respect and admiration for both ends. It’s the only way to create functional and attractive web material that is used and referenced!

Some additional thoughts on the subject from… Mike Kus, Ryan Burrell, John Urban, Amber Weinberg, and Michael Slater

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