Thinking With Both Sides of Your Brain
It has been debated for quite some time whether or not knowing how to code can make a person a better interactive designer.
Sure, I’ll admit that I personally spend the majority of my days navigating Photoshop, creating smart objects and avoiding gradients and bevels like chain restaurants. But quite honestly, having a sound knowledge of development has helped to streamline my thinking while I’m in there. Here's why.
Better Knowledge of Your Craft = Better Planning
I design websites. Stands to reason I should understand how websites actually work. Having a solid grasp of the full process will help your planning immensely. This is particularly true for projects with tight deadlines and/or stringent budgets.
For example, a client with large expectations and a budget to match might be a good place to whip out that amazing new custom image gallery you've been tossing around in your noggin’. The project that needs to be developed by the end of the week? Not so much.
Understanding exactly what you’re designing can avoid unwanted headaches further into the production process.
Knowing the Process = Clearer Communication
Have you ever had a design idea that you wanted to convey to a developer? Imagine how much easier it would be if you could speak their language!
I know … it’s a difficult one to learn.
The better you can communicate how something is meant to work to your team, the more proficient the project is going to run. When I’m busy designing an interactive element, I’ve already thought out how the code is going to work so that I can project the outcome, and clearly convey the desired functionality to those that will implement it.
CSS Is a Valuable Design Tool
In the world of interactive design, CSS is a design tool. And even if you’re not spending regular time in Visual Studio implementing your ideas, knowing the limitations of CSS will no doubt help you in Photoshop before you even type of a line of code.
A good example of this is Responsive Design, which uses a specific grid to layout content to work across multiple platforms. It is extremely important to have a solid understanding of exactly how this grid will “break” from point-to-point, in order to plan and design a site that will work optimally.
You're a More Valuable Asset
The more thoroughly you understand the medium in which you work, the more valuable you will be to your team, and to your company. You can better plan your designs, communicate them easier to your co-workers, and have a more vast set of tools in your arsenal doing so.
Having a knowledge of code will make you a better web designer.