Most of the jobs I see now require you to also be able to do front-end dev. While I would LOVE to know how (I only dabble), I think more and more jobs are looking for someone who can do it all. Those that do both for their jobs - what percentage do you do design vs dev?
I do, and I really enjoy doing both. It's like building physical things, or painting/sculpting, etc. The more I know about my materials, the better product I can create.
Great analogy, I totally agree. I haven't found a situation where knowing dev would ever work against a design. This is true whether I'm the sole dev or if I'm handing off files.
There are a lot of times when devs may work against design. One could be risk (cross browser computability issues) another is laziness (paying attention to the details and iterating requires some discipline). Ego can also play a role when dealing with a dev who likes to design too.
Totally agree. The more you understand the medium you design in, the better designer you'll be :D
I do both as well and enjoy them equally. I agree, it is like painting, which is my background. It's just a different medium!
As a developer, you're the type of designer I want to work with.
No Dev at all.
I am in a company that has a very strong focus on Design. They believe that to be very good you need to be focused. To be focused mean you need to do only one thing. 1 project and 1 role at a time. I do share that vision. There is enough to learn about Design for a whole lifetime before being able to master.
This being said, most of us have a pretty good understanding of HTML/CSS as an old Flash company. We also work very tightly with the front end dev.
So far, I had never been required to do code but I've always been able to animate in AE. The most important thing about our work is getting your idea across. The medium is secondary.
This being said, I am sure HTML/CSS skills are always a plus.
This is awesome. I thought I was the only one work in this kind of environment.
Honestly, I'm a designer, and I believe the medium shouldn't be secondary.
How do you design the next generation Space Shuttle if you do not understand the physics? (metaphor btw)
Even for more conceptual work, understanding the limitations makes you better suited to break them, with the right people.
But the Space Shuttle designer will know enough about physics to be at a mid-level. If the designer doesn't understand something, he'll go to the PhD to confirm.
At the highest level of UI/UX design (think Google, Apple) I this is what happens. You can not be a Jedi Designer and a Jedi UI Developer. Rarely do people have the time/skill to master both.
Many of our designers are also well able to prototype. It can be a big advantage to quickly getting an idea across.
It's not about producing production code, it's about showing something that is closer to reality and not just pointing at static mocks and asking your audience to imagine what it will be like once built.
As a Front-end Developer, I wish more UI designers could code simply so they would take into account things like what responsive framework would this design best work with (or are you taking the best elements of three different ones and expect me to use all three?), what the expected page weight for these animations no one will notice would be, when and when not to use sprites, how that system font only windows users that have Office installed won't work on 98% of systems, optimize images for the web, how much heavier a CSS gradient is than flat, and so on. (LOL, can you tell I have BEB (Bad Experience Bias)?)
My answer, not enough, at least in my past.
For those who do understand the Front-end Developer condition, I applaud you. Thanks for making our lives easier! =]
People LOVE those that can do it all. Not only does it save money on multiple hires, but it also allows you to hire someone that can put thought and detail into the product/process from start to finish.
At thoughtbot we only hire designers that can handle it all. Every job I've had I've done some kind of coding, mainly CSS/HTML and some JS/JQuery. I love it and it allows to exercise both sides of my brain.
I'm a designer as well as a developer; and I think being "ambidextrous" with these skills sets is generally a real strength, but occasionally, if one isn't careful, can be a paradigmatic hinderance.
When doing conceptual design work (the earlier paper prototyping, conceptual level I mean), it can sometimes be limiting when part of your brain is already thinking about the nuts and bolts of code. i.e. Instead of going for a somewhat wild idea, following it down the rabbit-hole where-ever it leads, I might water it down before-hand because I can anticipate the technical complexities involved.
98% of the time I think that's an asset, working both solo, and as part of teams --- afterall, we've got to ship product :) For the remaining 2%: I think there would be something freeing from design thinking unencumbered with the How-Are-We-Going-To-Code-That Hat you wear as a developer.
PS. The above being said, I couldn't recommend learning to code highly enough: obviously its a complementary skill to your design chops, and its also a way of dealing with problem-solving and complexity in general. My approach to IA / fundamental-design problem solving has certainly co-evolved with my architectural ideas about coding, both have increased the sophistication of the other.
I design+code, but it's getting harder and harder to follow both fields.
UI Dev is no longer HTML+CSS. It's getting more complicated with SPA, LESS/SASS functions, command line tools, testing, mobile optimization, and JS animations.
UI/UX Design is also getting more complicated with iterative testing, mobile/wearable design, responsive design ect...
One thing I've noticed is that some big AAA tech companies only want specialized positions. If you don't know every nook and cranny about design and WHY you designed it that way, you can't compete with people who only do 100% UI Design during the interview process.
This was an issue I had as well. Keeping up with the latest trends for front end became a daunting burden for me. It wasn't my first love nor was I a "Front end Rock Star", so it was an easy choice for me. Finding a design only position was difficult, especially after being a hybrid for so long, but it was worth it in the end.
Currently 100% design, and still learning code. Hopefully will be 60% design and 40% code one day.
Thats exactly my current state, 60% design and 40% code. Good luck, you'll get there soon enough :)
Thanks! I actually enjoy (attempted) coding more than I thought I would.
I currently do 90% design / 10% dev. At home however, I do more development work for side projects.
When I joined Sparkart, designers were trained to be great developers as well, following a 50% / 50% model. We built everything we designed, and continued this system for about 4 years. As I led more UX initiatives, I realized that our model wasn't working so well any more. It led to a lack of focus and designers were spread too thin trying to tackle multiple design / development problems by themselves. Furthermore, because development practices / technology were always changing, we noticed designers learning more development methods, slowly losing the ability to design well.
Eventually, we killed this system and began hiring designers who knew code, but had deeper / stronger focuses in interaction and visual design, pairing them up with equally focused developers for projects.
My time is split 60/40, design/development. When I first joined the company, I could probably only tweak HTML/CSS, but they ramped me up pretty quickly and now I write many of our static pages, using HAML/SASS/Coffeescript.
I found that knowing how to rapidly prototype designs is an invaluable skill - for example, we had a few designs for photo hover states on a new project, and if I wasn't able to quickly build them out to really interact with them, I wouldn't have been able to fairly analyze them and make a decision.
I'd say about 60% design /40% front-end.
I think its important for designers to have at least intermediate code knowledge. It forces you to understand problem solving within the practical constraints of your medium and it allows communication with engineering to much more clear.
Your final product is not a mock-up. Chefs are generally not paid to make photos of food.
I believe part of a designers job is too advocate for attention to experience and detail in everything and quite often that means doing front-end development to allow other team members to focus on more technical tasks. Its not just about doing something no one else will, its about being the person who makes sure it gets attention.
As an example : Sometimes I may be the only one who sees the need for or cares that an e-mail look great, scale well, present text at ideal sizes on all devices, etc...Finding a UI engineer or convincing other team members to spend the time on it is not always an option. When you have the front-end skills to make sure that happens it is immensely valuable in an organization or a project.
The other important point is : front-end engineers are hard to come by. Mainly because for a focused engineer : front-end offers very few actual problems ( i.e. its boring). Its just implementing interaction, layout and design solutions which you could argue falls under a UI designers job.
Its semantic and easy enough for a competent professional to learn and in a lot of ways, it should be our responsibility to make sure that what we design is implemented well. This is currently a problem : just look at the whole discussion around unsolicited redesign and their disconnection from actual application.
So, yeah I think learning to front-end is a great skill for a designer to cultivate.
I do both. I design in the browser so saying 50/50 is kind of misleading. For me design and front-end engineering completely intertwined.
I do my own front end work. To me it comes down to knowing your medium in order to do the best possible work.
I probably do around 60% design and 40% front-end integration.
Edit: Y NO LOVE 4 EMOJI?
I also do both. Its very satisfying to build the same thing which you have designed, and pay attention to minute details, something which you cannot expect from someone else. But the downside is that sometimes I have some nice design ideas (interaction/UI/etc.), and if I don't know how to implement it (development side) I usually drop those ideas. What I have found best option is that its good to have knowledge of the front-end and work in association with someone who is a pro at his job.
110% design vs -20% dev
I really really enjoy doing front-end development alongside visual design. It helps me understand the web as a medium better and helps me focus on actually creating the best possible experience instead of just pretty pages.
Also, when I started out all the guys that didn't do front-end were coming from the "paper" design business and did not understand the web. I cannot imagine how you would start being a designer now and not at least be decent at it.
I do design, front-end and back-end.
Front-end for me usually includes html/sass (I'm obsessed with CSS architecture), JS/Coffeescript, templating, styleguides etc.
Back-end for me is simple CRUD apps (mainly rails).
How my skill set is distributed depends entirely on the project. Some projects are much more visual, others are more about the user flow, others have complex front-ends.
Everything I've learned about programming has helped me become a much better designer. Actually, I think learning to code probably helped my design chops more than anything.
I'm working at my small startup (<10 employees), and although I'm traditionally a designer, I've been doing much more developing than I'd like.
What I've found is that as long as I've built up a solid CSS pattern library, our team can move much more quickly by just designing directly in the browser using our predefined patterns. I only step over into Photoshop if we're doing something that isn't easily taken care of with our current patterns.
I do. I find it essential that designers and (front-end) developers both understand the basics of each other's craft. And passionate people serve themselves well by enriching their knowledge outside their field of expertise.
However, don't forget that there's also power in specialization. I've met very few people who are both a world-class programmer and an excellent designer. Take care not to become a Jack of all trades... master of none.
With my startup, I did everything from ux, wireframing, research to design and front-end dev.
Now, I don't have as broad a role (bigger companies rarely have cross-team positions) but I still do a bit of both.
I use freelance to flex the full-spectrum-muscle in my spare time.
How are you liking the change? Pros & Cons?
Well, I really enjoy working on the full spectrum, so in that sense the change was a con.
But I gained much more by going to a bigger company - better benefits, significantly less workload (which gives me more time to put polish on my work and focus on details), etc etc
I think its great to experience both environments and have the skills that let you do whatever your job entails.
I actually started out as a Front-End Dev and kind of transitioned into UI so I do both. I've actually had a hard time working with people and breaking out of the notion that Designers should just deliver static PSDs and then devs slice them up. People are still coming around to the idea that designers can code. That is changing though.
I definitely think you should learn as much about Front-End development as possible. It will not only help you career wise, but it will give you a better idea of how things work when you're creating a UI.
I do. CSS+HTML is basically designing with code, which means… more accurate and scalable.
Used to be strictly design only. Now I'm probably around 50/50.
Seeing the UI all the way through implementation has definitely increased my design capabilities. Workflows are better, vision is better, etc. Plus it's really fun.
Nick, what was your journey to that 50/50 split? What did you find most helpful to really getting a grasp of front-end code?
I was thrown into it when I worked at a web design agency but most of it was self-initiated. I've since moved from that agency to a work environment full of developers ranging from dev ops to web dev and zero other designers. So that immersion helped me learn fast.
I might be one of the exceptions. I tell my clients although I'm very capable, I choose to focus primarily on design and suggest they have somebody who's niche is frontend development. That way, the development can be concurrent with the design process once designs have started going through the approval process which also cuts down on the overall project timeline.
Although I may not usually do the frontend development, I don't usually just hand over the designs and say have at it, unless it is an agency. I will provide examples of interactions either by mocking them up in code myself and showing existing examples or creating animations to replicate the desired effect. I will also take the initiative to follow through with a quality assurance run through of the implementation if the client allows it. I feel like doing both the design and frontend dev can spread me thin if I'm working on multiple design projects and I prefer specializing in something I'm more passionate about which is the visual UI design and the design direction.
Also, agencies I've worked for never required both. They have designers and then they have front end developers. I think it's good to know how to code, but don't think it needs to be required to actually do the coding.
There's a difference between UI designer and front-end developer responsibilities. a UI developer is, let's say, a golden middle between them. UI developer is everything a UI designer is but also partly does what a front-end developer should. Of course, it's great to be able to do both because designer and developer should always communicate and work as a whole to deliver the best result. Not sure if I covered the subject, so here you can find more information about who is a UI front-end developer and how he differs from a front-end developer. Sounds a bit mixed up but you should get the point.
I am very close to 50/50... realistically probably 60% design and 40% code.
Of design there is a little bit of traditional print design.
I always do UI and develop front end as well. It takes few months to learn and master it and I highly recommend to do it. Lately I have even started to design in code. Which means that I no longer spend countless hours working in Indesign and Photoshop and then do the same thing in Sublime Text. I just make a quick drawing on what i am trying to achieve and start with Sublime Text.
I started to develop because I saw how bad my designs are turned into actual working prototype and I liked the idea that I have actually created something, because your PSD files are left in the dark and only your code is what matters and is actually used.
At the moment I do mostly design at work and some front-end for side projects to keep up. I'd say the balance is about 70/30 and I like that. I like how front-end is different in thinking from design and how you can, sometimes, just hammer away at code and achieve shitloads in a couple of hours.
I only got into design and development about a year ago (Finished my music degree last year), but so far I'm loving it!
Originally I was just at home designing android icons and piecing together an icon pack app from tutorials and templates, but now I'm working as a front-end dev for a small web design agency. Our only designer recently left us so I'm starting to do some of the design work too which is fun.
I think it's good to be able to see how a design will be implemented in reality while you're designing it. It also helps me understand that what you're designing is a system, with many components and a real 'feel' to it, rather than just static images or PSDs.
Also as has been said before, being able to rapidly prototype a design makes the whole process of weeding out not-so-great layout ideas a whole lot quicker.
No job here but for most of my smaller projects, I do it all. Design, front-end coding, and the back-end coding. Computer Science and Design student, so it helps to dabble with both ends.
I'm learning the basics of Android development with the help of my developer co-workers. The idea being that if the developers can do the hardcore stuff and dump a messy but functioning UI I can go in and polish the XML files.
This way they get more time concentrating on the engineering of the app and I get to polish the UI, something I find v satisfying.
Doing this also allows you to see how the app is really put together. I've learnt that it's not as straight forward as specifying definitive measurement as you do in your specs, you have to take into account lot's of other factors such as embedded text padding. I believe having this knowledge make you a better, more efficient designer, plus you'll probably get kudos from the engineering team for putting in the extra effort!
I started as a front end dev, then jumped into more UI design now.. Code knowledge is such a valuable skill to have.
I do,and every designer should do
I do too! I love them both! I like to know the code so I can understand the capabilities of what I am designing for.
I do and I love it as much as I love designing. I also do the back-end of my projects (yup, I love that bit too!)
Oooh, that's me!
I definitely do more development than design (I was hired to be a front-end dev, anyway), but there's a freedom to extend my own instincts in the execution of what I'm doing. But it gets really helpful when critiquing a designer's work or looking at a static composition from an execution perspective; it helps me think of the work in terms of the individual components, how the views interact, and how we can intersperse and share data across concerns, all while making a kick-ass user experience.
One thing that I was chatting with one of our designers about today was the dissonance between the composition and the completed code. For Trunk Club in particular, we have nearly 10 client-side applications to manage internal components of our business; how, as a designer, do you reconcile the componentization of UI elements such that the concerns can be utilized in other applications, expressed familiarly and clearly the users, and be easily revv'd and extended upon? It's a LOT easier to do when you have an understanding of the architecture that powers the interface, but it's also another system to reconcile in your head when you're designing; it drastically slows execution.
Has anyone else had to struggle with this?
I do both and I like the variety of being able to switch between code and design. The work balance is around 40% UI design and 60% front end dev. It's also cool to be able to bring your designs to life and make sure they look exactly as intended.
I'm about 50% front-end/50% design at my job.
Though I also do backend with PHP and MySQL for two side projects I'm working on. For one project I'm doing full stack (design, front-end, back-end), the other I'm just doing straight dev.
I always like dabbling in code and designing at the same time.
You need to be able to develop to understand the limitations or potential of the technology you are using.
I do both as I found it can be more efficient to cooperate with the engineers to achieve the expected design. As the product is mature, I prefer reuse the UI components and build up the html prototype with them.
I do (not really 'required' but I do it to know what's going on and to get things exactly how I like them), also doing some iOS/Objective C lately too (mostly UI and UX Engineering vs complex networking etc).
It's such a joke IMO. Can it hurt to know how to... of course. Could it make you more marketable... of course. If WE as designers must also know how to code I fully expect all the developers to know how to design and to design.
It's a mandatory skill if you call yourself a web designer.
I'm about 50/50 for design and development.
I came from the opposite direction that most people seem to -- I started out mainly doing development but have moved towards design as time goes on.
Design is really what I have a passion for, but I like being able to build things at the same time.
I design exclusively, which I love. I'm lucky I have a killer development team to work with, both front and back end. I believe teams make better products because the individual can focus on his/her strength, allowing the team to work collectively to solve bigger problems.
Many of the responses to your question reference the idea that knowing the materials makes a better product. While the argument certainly makes sense, I think pushing the boundaries of what is "possible" is the only way the web will continue to evolve. I think designing within the bounds of what the tools can do is why the design galleries are chock full of the same website, over and again.
I can (and I say can) develop full stack, and do for side projects quite a bit.
At work, most of my 'front end dev' is actually rapid prototyping, churning out throwaway tidbits and interactions that we can use for testing. The real developers then take my stuff, use it as an inspiration but code from scratch (we build on different stacks on purpose)
At my last job it was 100% design and all of our prototyping was done in Axure so I didn't need to use code.
Most of the jobs I see now require you to also be able to do front-end dev.
I thought this was mostly limited to prototyping in HTML/CSS? Honestly I don't think it's necessary for designers to learn programming when you have things like Axure. Especially if you get an Apple developer key then you can import an Axure prototype into Phonegap and make it a native app.
Edit: I am familiar with HTML/CSS/JS and some PHP but I'd rather just make a prototype these days tbh.
I design websites, I develop websites. I'm surrounded by absolute brofessionals who help me out as much as I need it.
I do HTML/CSS/SASS/tiny bits of jQuery + PHP, the rest goes to our proper, full-time developers.
I love it. The split is 50/50 for me.
I don't (usually) do front-end coding on my daily basis, I know how to do it, though.
The only reason I like that it's because I really want to focus on achieving good design. Being specialized in one task can bring you more quality on your designs.
However, I can't design a web interface without knowing (quite in detail) how is it going to be coded by the front-end guys. Which problems could they have, where they efforts should be and what I should change to make their lives easier. That includes html structures but, overall, css, including transitions, etc.
So I really think that knowing how to code and being really aware and passionate about the trends, the problems, etc, of the front-end world is absolutely necessary.
PS: I actually love coding, but I don't really like to do it under pressure. No problems with design, though.
I'd say 20% involves code although we do have a dedicated front end person, but I consider that process to be an integral part of design. Like someone said earlier, the more you know, the better you'll be.
By designing without at least a basic knowledge of front end code, you're missing out on important insights on how your design can be improved, why the dev guy "didn't follow your mockup", what are the new technological breakthrough you could use, etc.
I am about 80/20 leaning to dev. If it were my choice I would be about 90/10 design. I have been doing both since there was a name for either. And knowing the dev has had a huge impact on my designs. An architect has to know how materials work with one another when designing. Its the same for design. A strong design should know the basics of what they are designing. There is nothing more infuriating than getting a design to build out that can't be done because the designer had no clue what he was designing for. You don't need to be a master of both, but at least understand both.
I do, and I also work on user experience too.
50/50, but trying to do more design.
I do but I also remember the time when it was loathed by "real designers".
In my view though design is more holistic than how it looks so I always wanted to make sure I had control of that part too.
I always put value in being able to create what I could dream up so I do and even some backend work.
As a UI Designer, I primarily handle some of the front-end development as well. I think every UI Designer should know at least how because it's a huge important piece bringing design into development. You'll definitely need to know how it all comes together obviously and it's only a plus when working with the development team to assure your designs are pixel-perfect.
I'd say I'm doing 60% design/40% development.
In our office we try to encourage our designers to learn how to code. The idea is that we eventually move towards submitting styleguides and interactive comps as opposed to PSDs and images.
We'd be saving a lot of time, as manually changing 100MB+ PSD files each time the clients request a small edit is hellish
I used to just design websites and UI's in Photoshop and Illustrator. I would work closely with my dev team. Now I usually design and develop most of my content, mainly thanks to Webflow. It makes the barrier to entry into Dev a lot easier. Just had to learn the basic concepts like the difference between display inline block and block and I was ready to build the stuff that I designed.
It's actually very liberating and empowering to be able to build your own websites/UI's without the help of a developer. Our hope at Webflow is to empower more designers.
Yup, I definitely think you guys are on the right track :)
I do both and wouldn't have it any other way :)
There’s two designers here, and we both design develop our own interactive prototypes.
A dev team is typically comprised of at least one CSS guy, one Angular guy and a back-end engineer — they implement the prototype into our infrastructure in a test environment, and both designer and dev team work together to finish the project.
It depends on what’s going on, but I’d say it’s about a 60/40 split between design/development.
I think it's important for designers to know some frontend. When you know code, you get a feel for best practice and it changes the way you might design a project. Plus, I have personally found it easier to just code a quick prototype to show devs, rather than spend a bunch of time learning some prototyping app that often does not do everything you want.
I do both UI design and front-end dev and wouldn't give up any of them. That means I need to double-up efforts to maintain my skills current, but for me it's worth it.
I started out as design only, then I was both for a few years.
After awhile it became about 98% code and 2% design. I was unhappy at work and I realized I wasn't getting the creative outlet I needed to have a fulfilling career. I found at place that allows me to focus on design and I'm so much happier.
I still love to use code for prototyping and experimenting, but I don't have to do any production code. For me, it's been a relief.
That is where I am trying to get back too. Right now I am about 80% dev 20% design. I love experimenting w/ code for app prototypes and things of that nature. But being a code monkey all day everyday makes me miserable. I keep getting promised I will get to sit in the corner and design all day, but I don't see that happening. Enjoy it.
Yea, being code monkey is not as fun as being a pixel junkie. Getting to the nitty gritty of code is nowhere near as fun for me as getting into the nitty gritty of design.
Training and background is in visual design, but enjoying front-end more and more lately. About to wrap up my first professional dev job and it feels like a great accomplishment and was a valuable learning experience.
My take is basically if you want to learn to code, learn to code; but if you really feel an aversion to it, don't force yourself. To me it seems natural to want to understand how your design will live in digital media, but don't listen to people who tell you you'll become obsolete and won't be able to feed yourself if you don't learn to code. There will always be a market for people who know how to make things look aesthetically pleasing, in fact probably longer than there will be a market for html/ccs based front-end development.
I do both. And I think good UI need to be build with passion and detail. When it's possible i like to code my interfaces. It's like a architect, outside the office, positioning the project details with carefull :)
On a web app as part of a small company
- 20% Design (mostly UI, not graphics)
Would rather it was the other way around but I'm learning a lot of the more nitty gritty development side of things as I go along so naturally it takes longer. It makes the design side of things interesting/tough when you know that whatever ideal solution you come up with you will also have to code! Definitely compromises to be had.
On the plus side I can now 'do it all'. On the minus side I'm so burnt out after work that my portfolio has barely changed over the past year. It'd be good if anyone out there has any advice or experience on dealing with this.
Probably 50/50. I think it is good to have a good sense of both.
Our setup is weird, I'm 90/10 dev/design, but we also have a dedicated web designer. I do the UX-ey things that he can't do, since we also have a heavy marketing/print presence.
Design 15% Dev 85% Now
Design 100% when in early development of brand identity
You need to do at least most of the CSS + HTML
I do most of the design when working on the frontend - can't really separate those two.