Our recent poll asked: What level of HTML and CSS coding knowledge should a web designer possess? It was discussed at length in Should Designers Have Coding Skills?The poll results were as follows:
- 70% of respondents stated that web designers should have good HTML and CSS coding knowledge
- 25% stated that basic knowledge was adequate
- 5% thought that a good designer could create a great website design without coding knowledge.
There were also some great comments…
Great web design can be done by people with no coding experience. Knowing the mechanics of web pages is much more important than knowing how to build one.
There is a very definite advantage to knowing what can be accomplished in a browser, how a user would interact with a design, and how the design would be implemented using either CSS, images and other elements.
If you’re a web designer, you should know how to code. If you don’t, you’re a designer, not a web designer.
The designer should still understand some of the concepts and have a basic understanding of what can or can’t be done in web design, or what should and shouldn’t be done.
HTML and CSS is tougher than you expect…
There’s a widespread misconception that HTML and CSS are easy. Take a sample of résumés from people in IT and you’ll find a ridiculously high number quote HTML as a skill-set. Many of those people will also know the rules of chess — but how many can claim to be a grand master?While HTML and CSS are not programming languages, they have subtle complexities that are not appreciated until you have considerable development experience. Graphic artists rely on precise positioning and programmers rely on rigid coding conventions, yet this level of exactness is rarely experienced in the browser world.Few people master HTML and CSS whether they migrate from a design or programming discipline. Should we expect everyone to have intimate knowledge of browser quirks, usability, semantics, accessibility, progressive enhancement, etc?
…but that’s no excuse for not understanding the medium
It’s difficult to keep up with advances in web technology and best-practice techniques. However, designers have little excuse for not understanding the fundamentals of the web as a medium. The same mistakes are made with frustrating regularity.In my experience, the best graphic artists understand the basic concepts of the web and apply good design practices. The best developers know how to constructively analyze a design and convert it into good-quality code. It’s not often you find someone who can do both … real web designers are a rare breed.Continue reading: 10 Common Mistakes Made by Novice Web Designers…
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.