Why Being a Web Designer Who Codes Is Way Cooler


Is it important that web designers need to know how to code?What are the advantages of the web designer who codes?  The term “web designer” is a subjective matter. Many believe this person is responsible for doing web layouts in Photoshop while others think of him or her as the one who does the HTML markup.

In the field of web development, there are arguments and opinions whether a web designer should know how to code or this person should just focus on his/her craft by creating quality web design layouts.

Everyone has his or her opinion about it and there are probably a million different scenarios and experiences that might make each theory or opinion true.

When I first started in web design, I really don’t know how to code. I was clueless about HTML or CSS. All I knew was to create web page layouts and align elements in Photoshop. Then one day, it hit me: I realized my curiosity had grown stronger as I had seen a lot of articles and blog posts written about how to really get into the code. I began wondering how these geek guys do these beautiful websites.


So I jumped in front of my computer and searched for good tutorials to get started on how to code. To my disappointment, most of the articles I found only offered the basic knowledge such as how to use H1, H2, anchor tags and so on. Then one year later, I found one guy who trained me and turned me into at least a newbie web designer and the rest is history.

This is my own experience; yours might be similar or entirely different. But, admit it, what you don’t know is bound to hold you back from learning.

Yes! You heard it right. I know my statement might cause more than a few good and bad reactions. Some of you might look at me now frustrated and angry. Before you pass your judgement, I encourage you to read this and understand as I talk about why I think that web designers should learn how to code.

What’s holding web designers back in learning how to code?

Before we dig into the reasons why web designers should learn how to code, let’s check first what are the reasons why some web designers just want to focus on designing. Below are the main reasons that hinder a web designer from learning to code.

1. They enjoy graphics more than codes. Some web designers tend to focus on their artwork and illustrations and have more passion on the creative aspect of the website. They love to create stunning web layouts by choosing the right fonts, color, images and icons, but don’t want to deal with the coding aspect to make their graphics alive and real.

2. No time to spend for learning. Several web designers find it difficult to learn coding while others can’t keep up with a fast pace of development. They think that if they spend time to learn coding, they might be left behind when trending design concepts are being talked about. They believe will not be able to improve their creative skills.

3. They think it’s hard. Some web designers think that they would suck at it that’s why they became afraid to try. Learning to code is a process just like a flower takes time to bloom.

Why web designers should learn how to code

Now that we know what hinders a web designer from learning to code, let’s now jump on why a web designer should learn coding.

1. Flexible roles for each project. If a designer knows how to code, he can easily change roles with a web developer. Developers can be web designers too and if a web designer knows how to code, he can also work on the coding aspect too. Since the two can switch roles, both are making the process more flexible and efficient.

2. Fast and efficient delivery of projects. It would make a lot faster to finish a project if a web designer knows how to code it. For instance, when a web designer creates a mock-up in Photoshop, he can easily cut the images and code the markup. The web developer then can focus more on the complex issues.

3. Efficient technical communication. If a designer knows how to code, he can easily interact with the web developer and talk about codes. In that case, the designer will be able to help the developer with minor bugs and updates on the codes of the site.This will make the team more efficient, saving more time, thus, delivering the projects on time.

4. It’s not a rocket science- it can be learned. When I started learning how to code, I was thinking that I was not born for it but later, I found it exciting and enjoying. Learning to code is really not easy but it’s also not that hard. Everyone can learn it.

5. The key to the next level. When you’re learning how to code, you begin to think logically. This would lead you to learn more coding languages and techniques since you already have an experience on how to code. Eventually, you may learn the skills the web developer has.

Curiosity: Key to Learning

Based on my experience, it all started when I got curious on how to code. Being curious made me search and look for tutorials that led me to learning. I love what Walt Disney once said: “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” Exactly true!

The power of curiosity makes everything more enjoyable to learn. Start being curious before it’s too late.



  1. Anurag

    grt. I agree.

    I run my own small ad and creative agency. I do not know coding stuffs, so depends on my people, who code. I make stunning layouts, and my people always come with a statement saying it’s quite lengthy or even hard to make. I compromise with the quality & creative parameter. It’s practical problem.

    One MUST know – at least a little bit about coding. I am not saying to be an expert, but I feel, I must know what my people communicate.

    I’m learning now. And my personal opinion – there is no harm putting 1 hour or so for coding. there is always a scope of being accurate, BUT NOT PERFECT :).

  2. Here html and css was always part of design and you were only considered a developer once you started doing php and asp etc. I like coding so much I hardly design any more. There is so much you can do now with html5 and css3 that it’s taking the web to a hole new level.

  3. Maarten

    Generative Web Design; Create visuals on the fly, through CSS3, HTML5 Canvas, etc. So CODING equals DESIGNING and vice versa!
    So designers think in bitmaps and code-oriented-designers think different. More adaptive, more responsive, less load.

  4. When I started back in 1999 I had no idea how to use graphic tools and considered myself webmaster (that was typical name for the job then). I have learned markup first then followed with graphics, and I think the knowledge of coding is essential for web designer. I have met very nice (and some bad too) designs that were not optimised for coding and took a lot of time to code that could be avoided if designer knew how to implement what he had designed. Now it seems Photoshop is the element of process that slows us down the most and dropping it in favour of transfering design process to browser and code can help us to speed up the work.

  5. Great article.
    I graduated with my BFA in Graphic Design in the late 90s when the web was just starting to explode. The curriculum was almost totally print based, with one web design/dreamweaver class being offered.

    I’ll be honest and say, I don’t love to code, but I know its a necessary part of my job. The always say “don’t design something that can’t be implemented” But the more you know about HTML5/CSS3/jQuery and the power it can add to your web pages, the better designs you can come up with.

  6. Daishaun Dixon

    Great Article, I know HTML & CSS, I Agree Knowing Code is better than just mocking things up, which falls under UX. Looking to get more into Ruby and PHP.

  7. nang

    I’m not only web designer, i’m a programmer to. I learn html, css, javascript, and PHP
    i enjoy it..

  8. Ari Tenhunen

    Good points. The UI/UX designer definitely needs to have profound understanding and knowledge of web codes or at least how they function. In simple web apps and web sites that are delivered by a small group of web professionals this is sometimes even necessary. In bigger projects it is often waste of time and competences. But even in bigger projects there are stages like prototyping, where coding by designer-developer might be beneficial. To me as a UI/UX designer the repeatedly occurring frustration is the unwillingness of coder-wanna-be-designers to realize exactly the design and use event that the designer specifies or even discuss about the necessary changes without discussion. In worst cases this leads to several rounds of making corrections and changes. As an UI/UX designer I regard this discussion, dialogue and mutual respect between developer and designer as essential condition to succesful outcome. For that reason I have considered going deeper into coding – to get exactly what I want and get the job done faster and with better quality. The best option – of course – is finding an excellent developer partner who undestands what the designer wants, has good co-operation attitude and has ability to contribute to design with his ideas as well. But in the end good front-end developer implements faithfully the design specified by designer.

  9. Riccardo

    I must admit this article got me signing up for the newsletter, even though I regularly read articles from 1stwebdesigner! Nice one, really.
    I’m learning web design and the design process is the most fascinating part for me and I really want to learn that much more that I want to learn coding.
    As I’m recently getting more into coding though I gotta say that there’s nothing more enjoyable than watch your design come to life, and you did the whole thing!
    Yeah, designers really should learn coding, they have to know that is not bad as it seems :-D

  10. rachelle castro

    Most webdesigners enjoyed graphics more than code. But in the modern days today we designers must also know how to code and vice versa. Learning how to code can be intimidating but rewarding in the end. Nice post sam! nice one!!!!

  11. maj garces

    The more you know the more you become more useful to the company or the services. I completely agree with this article and it took me some time to admit to myself that I must know how to code my mock ups in Photoshop.

    I now suggest an article with the reverse. Developers should know how to design! Thanks for this post!

  12. Nadine Dorado

    Nice article. Coding your designs makes you aware of what you are capable of. The more you code the more you become useful cause both service can be done in one man. I am a web designer and I do code.

  13. martin

    Great post. What depressed me is how Graphic Design courses around our area have recently removed web-related modules prohibiting new designers learning these kind of skills. For me a web designer must also learn how to code.

  14. Nice article, I think you’re slightly over simplifying the development process but then I’m a bit biased.

    What about developers learning the design process?