So, should designers be coders? The answer is, “Yes, to an extent.”
I say ‘to an extent’, because we can’t expect a web designer to be able to do everything a programmer can. These are two different career paths. We can and should expect there to be an overlap between these separate fields. This overlap mainly lies in knowing HTML and CSS. (now you know what the question marks are for in the graphic). So designers should understand code and be able to write HTML and CSS.
Adobe’s recent release of Muse has surely stoked this debate even more. Muse promises to rid the need for a programmer/coder (you know, the way that Microsoft Publisher rids the need for a designer). The problem with this is that Muse promotes a lack of coding knowledge and as a result web designers are still uneducated about coding and their websites are worse off because of it. Websites are not digital versions of print design. They are living documents in 4D – changing based on user interactions, responsive design, dynamic elements etc. For more on why Muse is not the answer to web development, read Elliot Jay Stocks’ assessment.
The point here is that web designers should understand and be able to write HTML/CSS. As a comparison, take this example I mentioned in the aforementioned blog post,
“…an architect should understand how a house is built. Otherwise, the architect has become a meaningless decorator of a medium he doesn’t understand.“
Frank Chimero says it like this,
“Design decisions are not only affected by the characteristics of the content being designed, but also the qualities of the format. The best way to understand the characteristics of the web is to speak its language.“
What are your thoughts on this? Should web designers know how to code? How extensively?
Want to know where to start learning how to code? Check this out: Don’t Fear the Internet