Should Graphic Designers be able to code?

Should Graphic Designers be able to code?

If you are asked to design a website, you should have a deep understanding of how to design and structure a web page and site.

This has been a hot topic in the past and I know this will ruffle some feathers.

I come from an age in the 90's when the Internet was only just starting to filter into the workplace let alone the home. AOL and Compuserve were posting setup CD's through your letterbox what seemed like every other day. I got into building websites when the hot browser was Netscape and I quickly fell in love with what was possible, a whole new world opened up. I was trained as a traditional graphic designer and had an understanding of layout, type, colour etc... and to be able to take that and apply it to web design was amazing. Over the years like many graphic designers at the time it was a natural progression and we learned how to code using tables to layout pages then CSS.

For the past 20 years or so I have always insisted that if you are designing for the web, then you should have a certain level of experience in actually being able to build a site. Without the build skills how on earth can you design a functional website.

There are those high brow graphic designers out there who can get by, working in atop agency on brands who then art direct a web designer/developer but for the most part, most graphic designers will at some point need to work on a website.

Now you may say, 'well now that we have fantastic no-code tools like Webflow why do I need to learn how to code?' I will agree that yes, you no longer need to know how to code raw html, in fact its been years since I have needed to do that,however I do still need to tweak css every now and again.

What is absolute however is a deep understanding of how a page should be structured through to a full site, how a page will adapt to different screen sizes(breakpoints), what the difference is between px and rems and how to design a site where the correct use of H1, H2, H3 tags etc... should be used, let alone SEO and how a site is designed can have a massive impact on your rankings.These are just the very basics.

So in a nutshell my stance on this recurring debate is simple. If you are asked to design a website, you can now get away without having to write raw HTML (though it is handy). BUT you should have a deep understanding of how to design and structure a web page and site and please, if you are designing a website do no-tuse Photoshop, at least use Figma.

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