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Hi, my name’s Bob, I am a creative web designer. I create amazing designs and I need to know nothing, NOTHING about how a website is made. I am not one bit technical, and CSS to me means “count some sheep.” Now shut up and turn my Photoshop file into a website!
To all the developers that have had the unfortunate pleasure of working with a designer like Bob, let me start off by apologising on behalf of all designers, we are not all like this.
During my time in this creative space, I have been exposed to a range of designers. Some good, some not so good, some very creative, others, more stubborn than a mule. But there has been a select few that knew the importance of one of the most ignored skills a designer needs to have. Technical knowledge.
So, what do I mean when I say that as a designer, you need to have some sort of technical knowledge? I am definitely not saying you need to know everything. You don’t need to know who created the Internet, or what www means (if you don’t know what www means you should probably Google it, and if you don’t know what Google is, you should probably just leave right now). However, you do need to know the basic fundamentals of the person who will be replicating and creating your design. In this case our dear friend the web developer.
So, what should I learn, you ask? Well as a starting point, simple HTML knowledge with a dash of CSS is vital. This will help you to learn some important constraints when designing a website, and how something that may take you 5 minutes to design, could take a developer weeks to code.
Browser compatibility is also another important thing a great designer needs to know. Why you may ask? Well, you need to be sure that what you’re designing can be replicated across all different browsers without too many problems, or else our dear friend the developer will be spending a lot of time trying to make your design work.
Lastly, it is important to learn about web frameworks, specifically how items scale and work in a responsive format. With the mobile first design approach being more common, being able to design within a framework is one of the most fundamental tools that a designer of this generation needs to know.
I believe that to be a great web designer you need to find the balance between being creative and knowing the limitations. Sure, you may have that rare project where there are no boundaries, and you can design whatever you like, but for the most part, learning the technical side of a web project will overall help you as a designer, and ultimately the success of the project.