There is a great debate on whether the web designer should learn coding. Is there a need for web designers who code? If you were one, would you try it?
There are two types of people: left-brained people and right brained ones. Left-brained people are mostly inclined to do technical matters. This means that the left hemisphere of their brain is more dominant. They possess strong left hemisphere characteristics. They have the ability to memorize, categorize and analyze data easily. Commonly, left-brained people are the ones who excel in science, mathematics and the likes. On the other hand, right-brained individuals have dominant right hemispheres. They are naturally intuitive, adventurous and creative. Designers, writers and speech-givers are great examples of our right-brained buddies.
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With that being said, web designers categorically fall in the right-brained category. However, upon dissecting the roles a web designer performs, you might arrive to a conclusion that the role somehow sits in the middle. Many web design purists will agree that web designing is, in majority, a creative field. The layout touches colors, fonts, and design elements. How all of these will concoct to form the big picture is he ultimate goal of web design. Web designers thrive on trends and techniques to improve how people visualize the web pages they create. This is important because most people are visually stimulated. Meaning, they are easily hooked on a visual image as they see it. If the image is not aesthetically enticing for them, no matter how good your content is, your website will just be sniffing stinks out there.
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Yet, with the growing demand for faster and immediate results, web designers are forced to get their hands dirty in coding. They usually take time to read PHP, CSS and HTML languages as a start. Though this is a very good step towards self-improvement, some people still do not support the idea that web designers should learn coding. Hence, the argument: Should web designers need to learn how to code?
Personally, I firmly believe that learning to code is not a requisite to become a web designer. However, having a large depot of code knowledge gives you an edge over designers who just know how to design.
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As a web designer, having coding experience will give you an edge knowledge-wise. Learning the basic language in creating web pages gives you familiarity on the project you are working on. You are aware of what goes in and out of your code; you know the bugs that keep your project from moving and address them as early as diagnosed.
You may be using some software which offers WYSIWYG features, but what if a bug comes out? What if a very important element, say your header image, is not visible? Would you just mope around, repeat the process and waste time? Or, would you be knowledgeable enough to know what to find and where exactly to find it?
Also, having some coding experience makes you the boss of your own design. Example, you are designing a web page template. Of course, if you’ll use the template generators out there, you won’t have the advantage of which elements should be absolutely-positioned. You just follow what the template mandates and you’re stuck in a box- and web designers as artists in their own right- should never be stuck in boxes. But if you know some basic coding, you’ll be able to control which divs are positioned relatively or otherwise.
In addition, you’ll be spared of some big files that will occupy your drives. Most WYSIWYG editors produce longer codes which can affect the loading speed of your web page.
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Furthermore, having coding experience will save you time. Contrary to the popular belief, WYSIWYG editors take more time compared to hand-coding. Also, you don’t have to look fo a coding expert. You can code the page all by yourself, thus saving money and time all in one shot. With this advantage, you will be able to work on more projects, increasing possible profit and eliminating misunderstanding in terms of coding.
With all these advantages, you might be under the impression that you are going to start learning how to code. However, before even starting, you need to answer the following:
Am I ready?
Are you ready to start learning new knowledge? Are you sure you’ll push through with this? Sometimes, the drive of your motives on wanting to become a better designer makes you take wrong choices. Contemplate on whether you really want it now or not because learning the languages in web pages is a very arduous task and it requires time, and loads of patience. It will be very counter-productive if you stop in the middle of everything.
Am I good enough as a web designer?
Here’s the catch: learning how to code can be taught. But creativity? Never. You acquire it through practice and a big chunk of mistakes and rejected designs. Yes, you can catch up through learning the different trends, but designing is more right-brained, so you need to be artistic rather than knowledgeable. If you think you’re ready and good enough as a designer, then go learn coding. But if you’re still terrible, I suggest you learn to polish the design aspect first. Never jump unless you know you have some good landing ground. Never learn coding and waste a great deal of time as a web designer if you’re not even sure if you really are a web designer.
Am I patient enough?
Let’s face it, looking through a seemingly endless threads of codes could be a silent and visual lullaby for many, especially those who do not find coding as exciting. Now if you really want to learn, you have to beat the pain in the you-know-what and the boring periods of learning. You’re like being taught a new language. You have to be patient, open and at least, curious to become better.
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In the end, I would say that web designers who know how to code have a great advantage over those who don’t. It makes them a one-man wrecking crew. This might put aspiring designers to the belief that coding is something to learn in an instant. Despite the many benefits of knowledge in coding, a designer must always hone his craft first, the right-brained one, before moving on the left. Web designer-coders are not a must, but being one an advantage. What do you think?
Rudolph is a geek. He loves reading: books, blogs and even nutrition facts found at the back of products. Since joining 1stwebdesigner last year, Rudolph has written several articles that concerns Typography, Wordpress, Freelance Lifehacks, Graphic Design and Showcase of Beautiful Web Designs. He also write poems, movie reviews and he puts them in his blog together with rants and some daily life updates.