Learn to Use Your Browser in Web Design

Categories Articles, Web Design

Photoshop has been in the news lately, except not for the regular reasons you might have guessed. More and more blogs are focusing on Photoshop because there’s an internal battle. A battle between designers who work in Photoshop, and those who choose to ignore it for the browser. I’ve grown out of Photoshop for the bulk of my work, and there are three key reasons a designer must focus on to understand the benefits I’ve gained.

Firstly, Photoshop lacks the ability to be played with. When you send off a still of that UI, how is your client expected to test it? The last thing you can do is expect your client to come to conclusions on the operation of your design by themselves. To me that’s a no-no, because that’s how we get assumptions.

Secondly, there’s how you play with your time. Photoshop is good if you want to add hours to your bill, but that’s not productive. Consider this, when you update the copy on your latest project in Photoshop, what steps did you have to take for the client to view the updated version. You of course have to edit it, but then you need to re-save it, re-upload it, and redistribute it. When you design in the browser (with Coda for example), the only thing I have to do is edit and save. The client already has the link, and knows that when I’m done a revision can be viewed automatically. Not only that, but you lose the dreaded waiting game between updates. You create a norm wherein your client won’t have to wait days for simple revisions, and that productivity and efficiency is serious business in when it comes down to your workflow.

Finally, we must remember that prototyping is about lack of perfection. Designers overlook this not just because we simply forget, but because Photoshop breeds nothing less then perfection. Why do any less when you are given a set of tools that allow you to create the perfect mockup and fine tune the details of your design? But you have to remember, mockups are about showing the direction of your project-to-be and not the final deliverable.

These three points make up a good argument, but why are people still resorting to using Photoshop as the solve-all tool? I think the problem stems down to simply not being comfortable with writing front-end markup. My experience with designing in Photoshop stemmed from the days when I wasn’t comfortable with HTML, and I think that is common for a lot of people. If you’re someone who doesn’t work with code then great, however there are a lot of us out there who do both ends of the stick on a day-to-day basis. Designers need to get comfortable with both designing and writing code, and know when to use the right tools for each individual task. You might think I write just to bash Photoshop; however, you have to remember that Photoshop is a tool and tools are used for specific tasks. You have to know what Photoshop is here for, and how to use it effectively when you work on your next project.

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Kyle is currently going to school at the University of Victoria while working with the Vancouver based Flipp Creative. You can find him on Twitter every once and a while.