Designing in t’browser

26th July 2019

Its a topic that has probably been done to death. Are PSDs dead, is designing in the browser the way to go or is there some middle ground to getting the job done.

Over the last 18 or so years that I’ve been doing this job, I’ve flipped opinion quite a bit the more I do of one approach but after a while I still come back to the old faithful of designing it in the browser. Good old fashioned CSS and HTML.

When I first started out, we were pretty limited to what we could do so we had to make use of images for a lot of things like rounded corners and gradients so Photoshop made sense. It was one layout, one design.

CSS got better in the meantime so we could do a lot more without the need for making everything an image but we were still at one design fits all so Photoshop made sense.

Then mobile hit us and then tablets. Photoshop was still ok but things had become time consuming. Designing three separate things compared to the one but still Photoshop was ok.

But over time still and we have numerous devices, numerous breakpoints and better tooling. We can’t provide designs for all that. And CSS has now improved so much, we can do things one could only dream of 18 years ago.

So why don’t people design more in the browser?

Is it skillsets? Does it take too long? At the end of the day, the site is going to be built in CSS and HTML so why delay it.

Can you be creative in the browser? Yes, of course you can be. You can be as creative in CSS and HTML as you can be with Photoshop / Sketch or whatever when it comes to websites. So should everyone do it?

If you are creative and can code, I urge you to do it. Take the time and build up from mobile. See how it looks on your phone through to your desktop. Look at every detail, tweak but do it from the device it is meant for.

If you can’t code yourself, work with the devs at your disposal and if you can’t design, work with the designers. Build something magical in the browser for the browser.

Designing in the browser is a legitimate approach. It is not just devs playing to be designers. It is being creative with code*

*ok stop there, it’s not strictly code but you know what I mean.