Why designers are talking about the wrong thing.

Where does the responsibility of a designer end? With delivered PSD files and designs? Or with an amazing user experience, living in production?

The answer should be obvious.

Designers are such fickle bitches (I say this, as a designer). We want control of the entire user experience. We want to ensure repeat use, and high engagement - and to do so, we want to design every little piece of whatever it is we're working on. After all, we are largely responsible for the performance of the result. However, most of us don't want to own the work it takes to execute this full scale implementation. We want to complain about people butchering our designs when bringing them to life, and claim non-responsibility. This is the problem.

I keep seeing tweet after tweet, article after article about some new app or tool for design, or some old app that is being phased out and designers are going crazy over (re: fireworks). You know what I don't give a shit about? Design tools. They are all obsolete. Why? Because we don't use images to build web sites anymore. We use code. You can use any stupid design tool to achieve a mockup. If spending your time learning new design related apps constantly you're literally wasting it.

This is akin to being a painter, and trying every god damn brand of paint brush there is. And then once you know how to paint with all these brushes (which all achieve a relatively similar result) - you use only one. Then you paint your picture with this ONE brush. But GUESS WHAT? That's not even the final copy. Its not even the rough draft (i.e a beta version). Its still a fucking mockup. The bricks and mortar. The HTML, CSS & JAVASCRIPT bring your painting to life. Who gives a shit what brush you used to make it?

I've been using photoshop for 14+ years, I don't care when it upgrades to a new version. Yes, I will move with it, and check out the new features. But the truth is, I want to spend as little time in photoshop as possible. I want to get my design live, so then the REAL WORK can begin. Testing the design, and iterating again and again, to see what has the best results in front of users. That is good design.

I don't give a shit what software you're using if your design isn't implemented properly. And you know what? The only person who can implement your design properly is YOU. Because only you are aware of each subtly and nuance you've designed into your masterpiece.

As an aside - it makes you about 100x more valuable to anyone who has to work with you, if you know how to code what you design.

If you're afraid of writing code - thats ok, you don't need to deliver production level stuff. If you can make a demo that just works in chrome, you're off to a great start.

6 responses
As a designer who can code, who also works with other designers, I would say that the other thing more important than code is being willing to talk through the iterations. There is no point doing your visual bit and saying 'that's my bit done' there needs to be input as the site is built to ensure that designer's vision is not only executed but also fully developed.
As a designer who can also code her own designs and considers CSS as a design tool, I wanted to thank you for this very nice sentence : "The HTML, CSS & JAVASCRIPT bring your painting to life" :)
Good points. I'm trying to solve those problems. I wanted to make web design easier so I'm building a design and developer tool that writes the code with you, http://www.radii8.com, http://www.radii8.com/demo. When using the demo click the code panel and watch as the code is updated as you design. Design is used loosely here. Import of PSD, better HTML and CSS output and more of what we need is possible but need some subscribers, feedback. Spread the word.
Well said. As I like to say, "it's not about what tools you use; it's about how you use them".
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