There’s hardly any denying that web design lately has become almost synonymous to graphic designing. But the two are actually very different from each other, and there’s no interdependence between them either. Graphic design can be offline and web design can be done solely through coding.
This might sound surprising to those who are new to web designing, especially if their designing vocabulary begins and ends with “Photoshop”. But no matter how atypical it sounds, it’s still a fact.
We’ll discuss it at length in this article, and we’ll also learn how designing a website can be carried out in browsers and what are some of its benefits.
Web Designing in the Browser vs Photoshop
To a large extent yes. Before Photoshop, designing was code-based. But Photoshop and similar tools put the limelight on drawing. Web designers these days draw every page on Photoshop and then send the .psd files to the developers. There’s virtually no need for them to learn coding.
This is how code-based design slowly died out. Today’s web designers stand on a crossover; they have limited knowledge over coding and only borderline design sense. But whatever knowledge they have is enough to create and modify almost all aspects of a website ranging from graphics to capacity.
Responsive Design Resurrected It
When responsive design came along, the focus again moved to designing in browser because Photoshop makes designing work visually alluring but websites drawn in it cannot be rendered by all types of devices, especially by Smart devices because their screen resolutions are low. Responsive design helps a website adjust itself with the screen resolution of the device that is being used to load it.
Responsive design doesn’t keep design and development phases of a site separate. So anyone who’s good at design and has knowledge in front-end development could easily turn it to his advantage. The alternative, i.e. using tools like Photoshop could yield problems that are hard to anticipate. Developers are sure to those face problems when converting the PSD files to HTML. But since responsive websites are based on CSS tweaks, they give less headache to both designers and developers.
The Benefits of Designing in Browser
Adobe developed Photoshop keeping in mind the desktop users. When designers work in Photoshop, they use a fixed canvas size width. The size is befitting if the design is used as desktop layout, but it gives no indication whether the design would occupy the whole screen if the site is accessed from other devices. Designing in browsers gives this indication.
Besides, when a user visits a website, he doesn’t simply look at the screen. He scrolls up and down, switches from one tab to the other and clicks hyperlinked items to land on other pages. Such transitions and interactions can be rendered only through designing in browsers.
When you are doing the same work twice, valuable work hours are getting wasted. Designing in Photoshop means converting the .psd file to HTML/CSS separately, which is a sheer waste of time. If you design in the browser instead, then the total work could be done at one go.
If you are making revisions on a design work using Photoshop, then you’d have to manually identify the errors and change them. That’s time consuming. But if you are designing in a browser, then changing just one CSS code would be enough.
You may wonder why Photoshop is still relevant when there’s so many advantages of designing in the browser. That’s because Photoshop is helpful for graphic designers, who don’t have to code up their layout samples. But the emerge of the Mobile Web has made “pixel perfection” the need of the hour and designing in the browser is the only way to ensure it.
How to Design in the Browser
The most important part is the initial blueprint of the entire work. The embryonic plan is where the giant chunk of the work is chalked out. Documentation is essentially needed at this stage. You need to document the sitemap, buttons, color of the anchor tag, call to action forms, etc well in advance. It’s best if you could proceed with a data flow diagram. Then you could track all the deviations and fix them quickly before any of them becomes an issue.
Next you need to draw a sketch based on the plan. Once the sketch is done, you could start creating prototype of the site. The use of HTML and CSS will ensure the client could interact with you. He could even fill the placeholder areas so you perfectly understand what he wants.
Before you begin the actual design, you need to select the fonts, colors, textures, etc. A mood board could be useful at this stage and you could use Photoshop to your favor as the necessary elements in a mood board like the texture, color palette, button style and typography could be designed using Photoshop.
You’ll be glad to know there are plenty of tools to make coding a delightful experience. You can use UI library stores to access UI libraries. A UI library is where many UI components in different styles are stacked. It is really a framework that could be used for design purpose. Using UI library is optional, but if you don’t use it, then you’d have to code up all the UI components and that would be time consuming.
Modern browsers are totally up to the snuff and many of them don’t require the designer to put the link of the UI library on a page in absolute format, in order to export the entire library to that page.
Almost all coders who design in the browser from scratch use UI libraries, so a prototype of the site could be built quickly, and the overall designing process becomes less troublesome. Once the prototype is ready, the designer needs to start adding mock content to it. The prototype file is the markup with HTML tags. Adding mock content to it would enable the designer to see how the content sections look like on the front-end.
For Client’s Convenience
Whatever is being done in a web design company, is done for the clients. If a client doesn’t buy a design, then no matter how aesthetically pleasing it is, there's hardly any point designing it in the first place. This very idea, coupled with the increasing importance of responsive design promises us that coding in the browser is the future of design.
A client will buy a complete website, not the lines or backgrounds of it. If the design is done in the browser, then it’d surely amount to convenience of the client. Besides, when it comes to making a website for all types of devices, coding in the browser is something that cannot be skipped.
So the bottom-line is whatever approach you have toward designing, there's little option for you other than designing in the browser with the use of coding. Photoshop does seem to have a grim future. It will probably be relevant only in graphic designing circles.