5 Pet Peeves Developers Have With Designers (and How to Avoid Them)

Cats and dogs. Cain and Abel. Designers and developers. These are just a few of the great historical face-offs.

Designers and developers often seem to come from different planets and have completely different brains.

Developers want a website to work right, designers want it to look right.

A few weeks ago, we explored the main pet peeves that web designers have with web developers, and suggested some solutions for them.

Today, we will discuss the other side of the coin: the five most common gripes that developers have with designers.

PEEVE #1: “Why do designers want to create everything in Flash?”

The website is a mere button and some text, but the designer insists on using Flash, even if it triples the downloading time.

For some designers, using core web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) to create a web page can feel like the death knell of innovation. They limit their creativity and force them to depend on the developer to realize their vision.

Flash gives designers potentially unlimited design possibilities, and they can retain far more control over the final product, especially if they know ActionScript. With Flash, designers can choose from any typography, tilt and skew elements, add animation and create special effects that are just impossible in boring ol’ HTML.

The first question to ask yourself as the developer is, “What is the best technical solution to the problem?” It may be core web technologies, or it could be Flash. Having an open mind is important. To determine what would work best, sit down with the designer and agree on a list of technical and design requirements for the project.

For example, explore whether the page has to load quickly, use a particular font for marketing purposes, meet accessibility guidelines or have animation. Once you answer these kinds of questions, you will be better able to weigh the pros and cons of using Flash.

Informing your designer about JavaScript frameworks such as Dojo and jQuery is a good idea. They may not realize the interactive functionality and special effects that can be achieved with AJAX and DHTML.

PEEVE #2:”Has the designer even heard of HTML CSS?”

The designer has created a great design using Photoshop, but the web just doesn’t work that way.

Some designers seem to be willfully ignorant of even the most fundamental aspects of web technology. This can result in designs that are plain unrealistic or extremely difficult to recreate on the web, that rely too much on images for simple typography or that lead to a subpar user experience.

CSS is the language of web design, and designers working in the medium really have no excuse not to understand its basics. I liken this to my earlier work in print design. I didn’t have to know how to run one of those mammoth industrial printing presses, but I did have to know about trapping, half-tones and CMYK.

I had to understand the fundamentals of the printing process if I wanted to achieve the best results with my designs. The same is true for web design. Designers don’t need to know how a server works, but they should have basic knowledge of line height, padding, background images and the other factors that make up the web development process.

PEEVE #3: “The designer gave me a PSD with 50,000 unnamed layers and no folders!”

You download the 50 MB Photoshop document, wait five minutes for it to finally open, start to cut a simple button background and are faced with a wall of unidentified layers in seemingly random order and half of which have been turned off.

Developers have to keep their documents well organized, or else they won’t be effective. However, if something looks right in the view port of Photoshop, then that’s often good enough for the designer. To a developer who is used to object-oriented programming (OOP) and a logical order for code, this can be a nightmare!

Developers aren’t the only ones who get frustrated by disorganized and cluttered PSD files. As a creative director, I sent back more than one PSD with a request that the designer organize and name all the layers. Address this issue with the designer as early as possible. Make it clear that you will need a clean and organized file.

If that isn’t possible (or the designer is just stubborn), one trick for finding the layer of an object is to right/Ctrl+click it in the view port with the Move tool (the keyboard shortcut is “v”).

A contextual menu of all of the layers and layer groups under the cursor will appear. Select the layer that you want and, if the Layer Palette is open, the correct layer will be highlighted.

I also highly recommend asking designers to learn how to use Photoshop’s Smart Objects. Smart Objects allow you to collect the various layers that make up an object (for example, the layers that contain a button) into a discrete file embedded in the main Photoshop file.

Smart Objects are easy to use and offer several benefits:

  • They create an “object-oriented” Photoshop file, in which repeated elements have a single “symbol.”
  • They can be output as web-ready elements without the need for messy layer-slicing techniques.
  • They make organizing the PSD easier by reducing the number of layers in the master file.

PEEVE #4: “The designer didn’t accommodate for real-world content.”

We are using a CMS system that gives the client full control of the content. The design mockup, though, shows only one line of text for headlines and one paragraph of text for teasers.

The designer expects balanced module heights and columns, but we can’t anticipate the amount of copy that will need to fit there.

Generating Greeked (or “Lorem Ipsum”) text is a time-honored method of adding realistic-looking content, in the absence of the website’s final copy. However, because it’s not real content, it can lead designers to make erroneous conclusions about the page’s final design.

Design comps are static, but real-world web pages have to be fluid and dynamic. Designers should recognize this and cover all possible scenarios. This is one of the main limitations of creating static comps: they are not the real thing.

I find it helpful to define the height of areas that will be used to display elements such as headlines and teasers, rather than leaving them open-ended. This will help you ascertain exactly how much space they will take up in the final design.

PEEVE #5: “The designer expects me to guess what styles (s)he has used.”

The designer hands you a comp with no explanation and expects you to figure out the font family, line heights, colors, widths, padding, borders and margins.

Unlike creating a mockup in Photoshop, web development is generally not done in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment. Rather, the developer assigns specific values for measurements, colors and typography.


I see this breakdown in communication in a lot of projects; it highlights one of the biggest differences between “design” and “development.” Even if the designer used a template with a predefined grid, the developer often has to eyeball other styles.

Having the designer create a style guide as a deliverable, then, is important. The style guide will serve as an agreed-upon blueprint for the design and reduce confusion.

Special Bonus Peeve: “I don’t need no designer telling me how to program!”

The designer wants something done a particular way, whether or not you, the developer, thinks that way is advisable.

Designers telling developers how to code is just as frustrating as developers telling designers how to do their job. But the line between designer and developer is often thin, and sometimes both roles are vested in the same person.

If you have clearly defined responsibilities for a project, hearing someone who was not involved in the decision-making process second-guess your conclusions is irritating.

Techniques that seem fine to others on the surface don’t always fit the programming environment you’re working in. Explaining the details of your technical decisions takes precious time, when all you want is for the designer to trust that you have made wise decisions.

Listen to what the designer has to say about technical alternatives; you may not have thought of all of them. More than once, I’ve been in discussions with designers who brought Solutions to the table that I was not aware of, like the first time I saw jQuery in action.

Remember that you and the designer (hopefully) share the same goal of creating the best product possible. If you keep an open mind and a level-headed approach, you can’t go wrong.

Written exclusively for WDD by Jason Cranford Teague. He offers specialized web consulting services and training sessions. You can pre-order his new book, Speaking In Styles: The Fundamentals of CSS for Web Designers at Amazon.com.

Which pet peeves do you have with designers? We’d love to know more about this, please share your comments below.

  • http://zero2heroblogger.com Matt Harris

    After getting my hands on a theme straight from a designer, the hardest part is always figuring out what was going on in their head when they were making it, and then how I can redo everything they did myself.

  • http://www.google.com anonymous

    nice post!
    what i think is that it’s better if you have a certain methodology or process that you follow when developers team up with a designer. So flow of things would go smooth.

  • http://www.hetanoyokozuki.com Bass

    Great tips, it was a brilliant read.

    I can certainly see those 5 things annoying me too if it were to happen to me, especially with Pet Peeve #3.

  • http://www.bluelimemedia.com christine

    My biggest pet peeve is receiving an enormous PSD and finding out that the designer had designed all 40 pages, even though the site uses one template.

    Backgrounds that don’t tile also annoy me as well as getting files in illustrator format.

  • http://www.joshuarussell.net Joshua Russell

    Great post!
    I was hope you would do a developers vs. designers follow up post :)
    Great stuff!

  • http://iamkeith.com/blog Keith

    Designers FTW.

  • http://www.hamroawaaz.com Rahul

    Well well, this all sounds way too familiar ;)
    surely the designer and developer have to work hand in hand in order to produce a good website with a good content.

    As they always say, it takes two (designer and developer) to tango.

  • Daisy

    Great article, thank you. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, not knowing the limitations of the web and being vague on the exact line-height I’m looking for in a particular design. Now working as a web designer and front-end developer, I see first hand the frustration :)

    • james

      I agree

  • Cory Williamson

    I’ve run into all these issues in previous jobs. That’s why I’m happy with my current job. All of our developers know basic design, all of our designers know basic programming, and we train everyone in basic marketing concepts.

    It makes it easier to manage projects and it really cuts down on the “what the hell were they thinking?” frustrations.

  • http://www.rocketgenius.com Kevin Flahaut

    Anyone who chooses to call themselves a “website designer” should have at least a good fundamental knowledge of HTML, CSS and some familiarity with the advantages and limitations of other web technologies. I don’t understand how you can design properly if you don’t have a good understanding of the medium.

    As an experienced web designer and accomplished developer, I’ve seen both sides.

    In the developer role, I’ve had to implement “website designs” provided by print designers at various bourgeois marketing firms. Yeah, the designs look great at first glance, but the “designer” didn’t understand or factor in web safe font usage, how dynamic content would flow or affect the design, how background images would tile, screen resolution constraints, page load times, etc. I’ve also received some incredibly sloppy and unorganized photoshop source files.. never fun. Total FAIL in my book.

    So far, I’ve yet to have one of these “web designers” propose any specific technology requirement other than “Make that Flash.” It’s usually not because that’s the best tool for the job, it’s just that they think Flash is some magic balm you rub on your poorly thought out design to make it all better. I’d welcome some really constructive guidance.

    On the other hand, as a designer, I’ve seen my files butchered all to hell by developers who totally disregard design direction and are combative about any feedback or guidance I might have to offer. I always design as though I were going to build the markup/CSS myself and I go to great lengths to communicate and illustrate these concepts to the developer. It’s not always an easy task.

    I think a truly professional web designer understands the medium, takes pride in delivering well formed source files, provides style guides and communicates well with developers to assure the site is both functional and stylish. A professional developer should remain open to suggestion, be mindful of the designers intent and try to faithfully execute that vision while adhering to project guidelines and best coding practices.

    Communication is truly the key. Put the egos aside for a bit and build something that everyone can be proud of.

    • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura Montgomery

      Well said Kev, I agreed with so many things you just said!

    • Taha

      I agree. I think now a days most web designers are also developers too.

  • http://www.freemarketmediagroup.com Lennie Appelquist

    The key here is to do both. If you are a developer who doesn’t design or a designer with no knowledge off html/css/java… shame on you. You are wasting everyone’s time including each others…

  • http://add-at-work.com/blog add

    dude, Lorem ipsum is not greek, is latin.

    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com Jason CranfordTeague

      Yes, Lorem Ipsum is Latin, but the technique of using place holder text that is not meant to make sense is referred to as “Greeking”—as in “It’s Greek to me”—regardless of the language being used.

    • Dutch

      Actually it’s neither, yes it looks like Latin. But it really isn’t, it’s just made up words bearing no meaning at all.

    • PuterMan

      dude, the term used was ‘greeked’. Go Google it before commenting. Perhaps you should not be in web design (if you are).

    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com jason CranfordTeague

      I actually find a lot of designers haven’t heard this term, so I wouldn’t be too critical.

      And it is actual Latin, it’s just jibberish Latin.

      • Anonymous

        It’s not gibberish Latin. It was written by Cicero. It’s just that “dolorem” it got cut to “lorem”.

        “Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit…”

        “There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain…”


  • http://www.doc4design.com Doc4

    Brilliant article, so many truths had me rolling on the floor laughing. Of course, I’m not currently in the middle of any project right now but I appreciate the tips. Nice work on this.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Adam

    As a designer, I know how to build a website in HTML/CSS so any PSD issues with a developer are avoided. Having said that I’ve been in the position of having to cut up a design from a print screen as the original PSD has been lost – that’s annoying!

  • http://uxtopia.com Alberto

    Designers DON´T do those things.
    Posh artists pretending they´re designers do.

  • fesh

    he/she is just a graphic designer if he don’t know how to code HTML/CSS.

    web designer don’t need to tell the programmer what style to use if the web designer have knowledge with DOM

  • http://www.nizzleworkz.co.za Lisa

    I really agree with your points Kevin. I am glad I can do both sides of a website; it really helps.

  • Liam

    Did you listen to the barrage of comments on the last post about this? It was virtually unanimous that a designer who doesn’t know html and css shouldn’t be designing for the web. simple as.

    A designer should hand the developer, the page templates, html, css and if they are good, some javascript as well. If a developer is just getting PSD’s then they are working with a terrible web designer.

  • Mrcl

    If you ask me, one of the job requirements to be a WEB designer, is that you can not only make pretty pictures (which is not exactly a unique skill) but also know at least the basics of HTML, CSS and Javascript (the combination of these proficiencies is slightly more unique).

    I would never even consider hiring someone who hasn’t the slightest clue on why their design full of custom overlapping fonts with textured, semi-transparent and animated gradients might not work so well for the client that wants the website to run flawlessly on computers that have no access to, say, Flash.

    I guess what I’m saying is: Make sure the guy who recruits new colleagues knows what it takes for their recruits to get their jobs done. I mean, that’s like hiring a programmer for a Java project, only one the notion that he has programmed some Visual Basic in high-school.

    Additionally, you should be working with technology that separates layout from code as much as possible. It’s called “MVC”. Ideally, you would never have to bother programmers with layout issues, and the programmers would never require a designer to delve deep into server-side code.

  • http://www.mbinteractive.co.uk Paul Minns

    Nice post (as always)!!

    I was especially interested the last “bonus peeve”… jQuery is something which I’m finding we use increasingly in our work.

    As a designer, it used to be I could produce a series of pixel perfect ‘flat’ psd comps from which the site could be built by a developer – this is increasingly not the case because of the movement of page elements through the use of jQuery, AJAX etc.

    I guess it’s thrown up this question:

    “How do I best convey jQuery functionality/animation to a developer?”

    Any thoughts?

  • http://www.limesharp.net Paul Younghusband

    I’ve worked with graphic designers in the past who clearly had little experience of web design and I must say, it was a terrible experience. They typically are quite arrogant (“don’t touch my design”) yet they have little understanding of how that design is going to translate onto the web.

    A word of advice – if you’re ever asked to work with a graphic designer be sure to ask to see the designs first before you commit to working on the project!

  • http://www.martiandesign.com David Platt

    it helps if designers know about some web technology and vise versa, and no one should be on the receiving end of a PSD files with no folders.

    a designer and a developer who are on the same page is rare but it’s the only way for a project to turn out great.

    Don’t be haters. If the developer does not know design, why don’t you help him? If the designer does not know code, give him a break whydontcha?

    S#!t man, we’re all in this together.

    • http://twitter.com/karlaidoscope Karla

      lol, you’re right! Do you have a Twitter address so I can follow you?

  • Dirk

    Kevin Flahaut:

    You’re too right. Same here, both sides of the fence.

    Main thing I’m worried about atm is indeed the way my files get manhandled. I don’t think a true webdesigner should lack knowledge of code. It’s definately needed. If you don’t know any html/css, you’re not a webdesigner: you’re a user interface designer.

    That said, this article was somewhat of a weird read for me. I’ve never had these problems, they’ve always been “the other way around” for me. Our code junkies tend to spend less time on html/css as opposed to .net and/or php, and for some reason their ego doesn’t allow us to do the front-end programming. It’s hurting our company, and definately something we should look into fixing.

    Any hints/tips would be welcome.

  • http://icocktail.co.uk/ Balint Orosz

    I do not agree with no. 1.
    Flash has a lot of advantages, and if used wisely can be
    1) Faster than javascript
    2) Cross browser/OS compliant (fonts etc..)
    3) Much more attractive.

    Try to check out http://icocktail.co.uk/
    The whole flash source is approx 100kb, nothing compared to the size of the images used (approx 1 image is 100kb…).
    Also try to check it out with javascript/flash disabled. Most of the content works perfectly.
    Imagine the effort you would need to create similar visual effects in js/css/html only…

    The problem is, that mostly “designers” use flash not “developers”.
    Designers should design in flash, but developers should code it.

  • Bob Ricca

    Maybe its just me but I’m a designer and I avoid flash unless it has to do with video.

    I also prefer to code all my html css and hand it over to our developers to have the javascript implemented… which I usually discuss before hand and plan out the design accordingly.

    … That’s not the norm?

    Guilty on the photoshop layers… although I try to group things in folders.

  • http://www.graphicrating.com/ Andy Gongea

    We should first define those 2 terms – designer and developer.

    For my part – I tend to think that a designer implies slicing too. That is not a developer’s job.

    As for developer – from my experience and from my work – developers don’t know CSS – that’s a designer field.


    • http://www.graphicrating.com/ Andy Gongea

      * although – both should know this common things

  • MIsthop

    As a webapp developer and heavy user of the internet – Flash is never the best technical solution to the problem. If you think it is then you have stated the problem wrong

  • http://greenflipflops.com Gabe

    My favorite peeve is the size of design. I love when I get an intricate background and the .PSD file is 1024px wide and 1024px tall. That’s spectacular, but what would you like me to do with the rest of the monitor for the large number of users who see the site on a monitor wider than 1024px? And what happens if, GASP!, there are pages that end up being taller than 1024px? As a developer taking a design, it would be extremely helpful to have either a tile-able background, or something that is large enough that it will play nicely on larger monitors or vertical scrolling pages. Even if the rest should just be a solid background – make the bg image so that it “falls off into” that solid color nicely without some abrupt end.

    • http://www.rocketgenius.com Kevin Flahaut

      Been there too many times. Again, that generally comes from print designers who are used to working with a fixed canvas and don’t either understand or care to design for dynamic content

  • http://www.simonday.com Simon Day

    To expand upon the PSD full of layers – Another pet of mine is the designer who has reworked the PSD several times to get to the final version but LEAVES ALL THE OLD REVISIONS in the file. Not only do you have hundreds of “Layer copy” but you have hundreds from old revisions and you can’t tell which should be in and which shouldn’t.

    Been in that situation a few times and it’s very annoying!

  • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura Montgomery

    Good article!

    I started off as a print-designer and kinda fell into web design. I now look back at what I first did as a web-designer, and I’m not too sure whether to laugh or cry! It only took a few weeks to become decently familiar with the very basics (HTML and CSS) and from then on I’ve been learning more and more of the “developer’s” side of things, because I know understand how important it is to know what can be achieved WITHOUT FLASH!

    I esp agreed with what you said about receiving layouts that just will not work for dynamic flow or are not suited for web use…I’ve had one or two myself but luckily (as a designer) was given a bit of freedom to adjust these to work, without the backlash that a developer would get.

    I’ve been very lucky that any developers I’ve worked with, has been on a long term basis so I’ve not really came to logger-heads with anyone. Both the guys I’ve worked with appreciate the knowledge (both design and development) that I bring to the project, and I bow down to their cluing expertise…it blows me away sometimes!

  • Aen

    I’m sorry but the designer is the one who needs to make thing useful and work. If you cannot do that you are not a designer. A Photoshopper perhaps. A developer is also a designer because he needs to design the right application architecture. If not he is just a code writer. These pet peeves are for prehistoric people who don’t understand design. Design is not decoration.

  • http://www.fantasybookbanner.com John G

    I’ve run into this many times. Especially when I was just starting out. I would use wysiwig programs to approximate print methodology.

    Finally I decided that I had to know what was really going on so I dove into html and css. Any web designer should know these fundamentals. It really is shameful of designers to be ignorant of the core technologies.

  • http://www.caffedigital.com.br Andre Augusto

    Now Im waiting for the 2nd Round!!! Designer vs Developer, because it clearly defend only developers position! What about the mistakes they usually do and we usually (and patiently) understand..?? hahah

  • http://deviantstudio.ca/wp Richard

    Good post, I do hate flash, as a designer and as a developer. As a designer It still has its limitations, only thing I’d ever use it for again is banners/headers if needed and requested by a client. I usually advise against it. It’s something a viewer has to download if they dont have, which can stir users away from your site. The whole purpose of the site is to have people go to it, not keep them out. I wish other designers and developers would get this, that flash is not innovative, its not the be all and end all. Flash is only news now, sure with each update you can do a little more, but it honestly takes more work to get a lot of the same results (ie data collection, form creation etc.) On a usability standpoint, I find it pure garbage, and I used to love flash!

    JS Frameworks/Libraries are where its at, it is coming a long way from where it was several years ago, and I see it coming even further as designers and developers start recognizing it as a more stable platform.

    As long as a designer can conceptualize, and do the proper mock-ups (wireframes what have you), then at least the developer can do their job and pick the right technologies suited for what the designer has conceptualized. That is the way I work with my team, we start with sketches, then go to wire frames that go into detail of the functionality in a visual representation, then a soft mockup on the web of just one page and an examples page of the functions in a working order. Then once approved it all gets combined.

    I think we need to stop looking at why there are peeves and starting looking into how they could start working together a bit better. I know its far fetched of an idea, but it is possible.

  • http://www.saltlinestudio.com Chris Gillis

    You should add “Print Designer” to the title. If you call yourself a Web Designer, you should have at least basic concepts of what development is and you should have work with developers in the past. Any Web Designer that doesn’t grasp CSS/XHTML should not be in business.

  • http://www.sunshine-design.co.uk Jon

    A web designer who doesn’t know HTML/CSS is not a web designer. How do you design for the web if you don’t understand the fundamentals of the technology you’re designing for? And if you’re a web designer who asks a developer if your design will work in HTML then you’re still not a web designer. You’re a designer who asks a developer if his design will work in HTML.

    I’m a developer who designs. Not well, but I do. It’s important to understand both sides of the coin. Partly to smooth the transition from design to development but partly so that you can better communicate with your colleagues.

    I work at an advertising agency with a web department. I’ve had designs land on my desktop that are done in InDesign. The said print designer looked at me blankly when I asked him how many pixels wide the design was. I knew that was going to be a long day.

    The most recurrent issue, however, is #4. Every website we do undergoes design changes that end up with pissed off designers because of annoyances like people not writing titles that are always three words long – a requirement not to break their design. Welcome to reality (pun intended).

  • http://www.truenorthe.com Courtney

    As a designer, I know CSS and HTML, so I know what can be done with a web site. I develop most of my sites, so hopefully I avoided most of these with my developer!

  • http://stranskydesign.com Joel Stransky

    This post also happens to be a good argument of why developers get paid more.

  • http://www.enlightsolutions.com Dan Pickett

    I think it’s important that designers at least try to learn CSS and HTML. It would be really hard for me to create something when I wasn’t aware of the constraints of the medium.

    I’m a programmer, and I love it when designers have a basic understanding of programming paradigms.

    Source Control knowledge is immensely helpful too!

  • http://intermixdesigns.com Lissete

    I’m both a designer and developer but unfortunately at my job I only usually do development work. The last project which I had to develop was a designer’s comp that was so annoying and frustrating. He had so many things that were going to give me difficulty like drop shadows everywhere against gradients and png transparencies and so much else it was a nightmare! When he saw what I was working on he would say, “where is my drop shadow here and there?” and “you’re ruining my design!” God what a drama queen! I would constantly have to tell him “I’ll add it later relax!” Oh and the PSD file was completely a mess and I would see things that could have been done in an easier way but he made it more complicated then it should have been.

  • Jason

    As a designer, I only fail #5. Now I feel so good about myself :D

  • http://www.hitchcreative.com Gaird

    This article is insightful for the Solutions Jason offers. They are about education, communication and process. Pet Peeves is a good headline, but the real good stuff is in there for the reading.

    Aen (comment #31) is spot-on: Design is not decoration. If a graphic designer is not familiar/experienced with designing for the web, then they are only designing the look and feel. Web design=IA+UI+UX, and must be aware of technical realities. This is an education and communication issue that Jason describes quite well. If designers and developers are not communicating, there is no team, just players.

    The process matters. We develop in this order: Content > Functional Description > Wireframes > Look and Feel Design > Programming. This way the designers (of whatever stripe) have the information they need, and developers know what to expect. This is key: graphic design is not the first step. You don’t design a house without understanding what it needs to do – same with a website. Shortcut the process to your peril.

  • http://www.nomad-one.com @nomadone

    Hahahaha, LOL

    I’m a designer and those are some of the things I really hate about “Print Designers”. Now web savy designers on the other hand, those things should be second nature.

    Gone are the days of designer developer teams, multi-skilled design/developers are way more efficient!

    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com Jason CranfordTeague

      A lot of people are pointing to print designers as the culprits, but I’ve met my fair share of supposedly experienced and talented Web designer’s who refuse to learn ANYTHING about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Hopefully, that is changing.

  • http://absinthe-design.com Absinthe

    You wanna see what happens whey your boss overrides your web safe recomendations and lets the graphic designer fresh out of college and with no experience run the show?



    Flash for useless stuff
    and my favorite no vertical scrolling except for the text, cause the boss hates to scroll nevermind it can be fixed with a back to top link

  • http://www.rachelreveley.co.uk Rachel Reveley

    I certainly sympathise with some of those points especially numbers 1 (flash) and 3 (Photoshop layers). Most of those can be voided by working with designers who have spent some time as front-end developers, though this may cause issue 5 (telling you how to code). I think I can say I am innocent of all of the above.

  • http://www.rachelreveley.co.uk Rachel Reveley

    @Absinthe I have seen worse but I was expecting the menu to have drop downs because of the gradients.

  • http://www.mysecretwebs.com Placehold

    I get peeved when other designers feel the need to start using over flamboyant extravagant words in order to try and put other designers down and to confuse customers into thinking their a good designer.

    Generally i have found the majority of great designers can explain things in a simple manner and their work pretty much illustrates itself – resulting in a self explanatory design….



  • Lindsay K.

    This is why I think it’s so important for design students to be taught BOTH ends of the spectrum. Luckily the head professor of the program I’m in right now agrees. He stresses good concept and design above all, but coming in at a close second is knowing what your medium is and designing FOR it. He has also been known to take off points for not having your files organized properly – very important on projects such as a full book where everyone in the class is doing 2 chapters and they have to eventually be combined into one master inDesign file.

  • Lindsay K.

    Sorry, one more thing … it’s also nice to be in a working environment where the developers can kindly point these things out. Just the other day I learned not to use gradient meshes in graphics that are headed into flash. :) The email exchange was polite, professional, and will make his job easier next time.

  • http://gentoopebble.wordpress.com/ Matthew

    We’re a small and tight team of 4 at my work (with our boss who does it all, two designers and myself–a developer). So I don’t really have many peeves when it comes to working with our designers, except maybe 4 and 5. I understand, though, that when design work is piling up and they need to get it done, they aren’t putting every style (such as ordered lists, blockquotes and so forth) under the microscope to be sure it works with real content. I’m happy to take over and put my own personal touch on the stylesheet :)

    Besides, if anything causes confusion, I just get on our Campfire chat and say “What choo talkin’ bout, Willis?!”

  • dougletts

    Your solution for #3 is way off. Putting all your layers into smart objects is bad advice. Smart objects are great but this is not how they should be used. I believe the correct solution is layer comps, you can organize your layers and add commented context to each comp. Check out “window>layer comps” and maybe “You Suck At Photoshop: Smart Objects” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l309y6i9azc

    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com Jason CranfordTeague

      I’m not suggesting Smart objects for all layers, just those that need to be treated as unique objects. Isolating these makes it much easier to navigate a file, as well as output them.

      I’m also a strong proponent of Layer Comp, but that’s a topic for a different post…

    • Dean

      Totally agree with you on this.

  • http://www.mysecretwebs.com Placehold

    To be honest common sense is really the key to great design,

    To sit and bang on about strict rules that have to be followed because thats what you believe is in itself incorrect as we are all taught in different ways and have different styles,

    At the end of the day the design should be well thought out, well planned, sensible as well as the most important one,

    Future expandable and upgradeable



    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com Jason CranfordTeague

      Agreed. Design is all about simplicity (“common sense”). I don’t mean to set out any rules here. Just observations and suggestions from years of watching designers and developers interact.

  • http://www.myintervals.com John

    Here is a blog post I did on the same subject, but with different points:
    Web development frustration: The web designer

  • Dave

    My rule: DO NOT give me some crazy design with rounded corners everywhere, drop shadows, gradients, transparent overlays/backgrounds. ugh.

    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com Jason CranfordTeague

      My rule – Do all of those things, but use CSS design enhancements.

  • http://www.ardyonline.com ardyonline

    very well said! nice article…

  • http://www.knullkontakt.se hoyo

    Design is over-rated – the content itself is most important. This would be enough:
    body { font: 11px/13px “Times New Roman”, Times, serif; }

  • digish

    You would not know, after rocking your head through all the hassles, that client has given. The designer comes and says, you have cracked my design. And he does not say where.

    I kind of feel like, he is talking some other language, I something that I dont understand. On the top of it, he never say what went wrong. All he says, I have cracked his design.

    People, are so different.

  • kolin

    As a good developer and a good designer, i find this kind of argument going on between the right and left sides of my brain. usually resulting in a headache.

  • http://www.aaronmoody.co.uk Aaron Moody

    Agreee with all, and I’m a designer. The named and organized folders I can relate too. I try to keep all my designs easily organized in group folders, and name most layers. I recently had to name and group over 1000 layers, after purchasing a design from someone.

  • http://www.jsbwebdesign.com JSB Web Design

    I think these peeves can be avoided if the designer was worth their salt.

  • Mike

    I have usually done Design and Development both, This way i have complete control over both the content and technology used. Recently i have been relegated to just the Design role with an IT person doing the developement. The biggest problem i found is it takes just as long to write up the storyboard, and describe in detail the application, purpose, goal and details of what i am trying to accomplish as it does just to write the code and be done with it.
    It is my experience that developers really do not have a good eye for design. User interface is paramount, while a developer can create very elegant code and do all sorts of geeky things, it the app is not pleasing, intuitive and easy to use then the using community will not use it and the app will fail.
    The points made in this article are right on. Both Designers and Developers should have an innate understanding of each others worlds and the possiblilies presented in them.

  • RoaldA


  • http://labs.sapo.pt/ua/hugo/ Hugo Silva

    Ao contrário do que foi dito em cima, o designer não tem que saber fazer as duas coisas, porque encontrar um Designer que saiba desenhar um bom Web Site e saber programar é uma tarefa muito complicada, o que acontece em quase todos os casos é o mau resultado numa das valências. Por isso a chave para tudo isto é antes de tudo perceber qual é o papel do Designer e do programador na construção do projecto. Depois tem de existir muito abertura e dialogo de ambas as partes, porque ninguém gosta que lhe digam como fazer o seu trabalho. Mas para o mim o maior desafio cabe ao Designer isto porque, como refere no post, da mesma forma que o Designer soube adaptar-se aos processos de impressão e tirar proveito disso, na Web, o Designer tem de ter humildade para perceber as limitações da web (browsers) e de alguns dos principais sistemas de programação e saber tirar proveito disso. O segredo, tanto para programadores como Designers é transformar os problemas e divergências em novas oportunidades e novas soluções.

    “Contrary to what was said above, the designer does not have to learn to do both, because finding a designer who knows a good Web site design and programming knowledge is a very complicated task, which happens in almost all cases is the bad result in one of valency. So the key to all this is first of all understand what is the role of designer and developer in the construction of the project. Then there is the very openness and dialogue on both sides, because nobody likes him and who do their job. But for me the biggest challenge lies with the designer because, as stated in the post, the same way that the designer has succeeded in adapting to a printing process and take advantage of this, the Web, the Designer must have humility to understand the limitations Web (browsers) and some of the major programming systems and how to take advantage of it. The secret, both for developers and designers to turn the problems and differences in new opportunities and new solutions.” Google translate

  • http://project47.viscountbox.com Carlos Eduardo

    Excellent article… I’ll send it to my Designer friends :)

    I really think that Web Designers must know about HTML and CSS!

  • someone

    Webdevelopers are all the same overrated fail.
    who cares if they are designers or “developers”.

    calling someone “developer” in an envioronment where only php and javascript is developed is fail and throws a wrong light on real developers doing their job on layer3 and with c/cpp

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com/blog Adam

    haha this is so true, good post

  • Jason

    It always boils down to there being TOO MANY DESIGNERS and not enough developers. The whole too many chiefs and too little indians story. Anyone can act like a designer, and create wild concepts, but they dont know how to make it happen. The developers are the gate keeper, and designers deserve a fraction of the respect that they command. Once you have done both sides of the work, can you appreciate the challenges, and Ill tell you from experience, the developer has a MUCH harder job. Learn to program before you start step on the soap box.

  • http://www.bustamantedesign.com Rick

    Developers lovers Designers! :)

  • http://www.warez.org hukares

    @someone #65

    If you call yourself developer with only C/CPP at hand. I dare you to develop an OS with ASM.

    “Developer” came from the word “develop”, which means:
    * to create
    * to transform
    * to improve
    * to process

    Web Developer is someone that creates/transforms/improve/process a web site.

    You only limit yourself with “Software Developer”

  • digish

    Hukares, has a point.

  • http://www.dotworks.pl macias

    i’m designer and developer too. So work with full design, html / css , and others… it’s two different worlds, like to work with them both….. nice artcle

  • Ben

    What the hell?

    Are there actually people out there who call themselves Web Designers and work exclusively in Photoshop?

    I’ve seen first-hand how a website design by an agency graphic designer can make marketing executives giddy with excitement.

    However surely we can agree that these people are not Web Designers, and as such wouldn’t be reading Webdesigner Depot.

    I don’t care if you understand the basics of HTML and CSS – if you aren’t working outside Photoshop for a particular project, then your job title for that project is Graphic Designer. Or at a stretch, Interface Designer.

    Web Designers build websites. Let’s keep this blog for them.

  • http://www.embed-design.com/ Oliver

    I agree, knowing basic html/css really helps when designing my own stuff. It keeps you somewhat grounded to the limitations of the medium the design will eventually be converted to.

  • Mike

    With all the talk of html/css and other tools, the amount of technology choices is almost overwelming. I do a lot with classic ASP, but also Javascript. There are also those that prefere PHP, or Coldfusion. I am now getting a certain amount of push from some IT departments that dot net is the new and best medium for web based applications. It really makes your head spin, I spend almost as much time trying to figure out which is the best technology to use for the problem i face. This is really where the designer and developer need to be in the same room working on the requirements together. All the pretty graphics in the world wont be a hill of beans if you choose the wrong technology to support the vision. In the same breath all the really cool coding does not result in an elegant web design.

  • http://www.webcentric.co.za Marek Jan

    To overcome this issue.. (and yes it can become an issue in a studio) I have managed to master both sides of the fence.. I have been a designer for total 13 years, then added html/xhtml/css and ajax/js skills to my cap.. and finally for the icing on the cake, I added PHP and Cold Fusion programming skills.

    SO now.. when I run a project, I know exactly how to brief the designers and programmers so it all works together. I can explain in detail how it’s going to work.. and which pitfalls to watch out for and bring together a engaging, visually creative and dynamic site.. with a intuitive cms backend.. all W3C compliant.

    And hell, if they don’t listen.. its always great to say.. “we’ll who’s the senior designer or whos the senior developer” LOL .. not some half @ssed project manger 5 minutes out of college.

    I guess that’s the difference of experience.

  • http://evolutionwebmarketing.com Darwin

    This is so true. I deal with all of these issues on a daily basis. I am a developer for a huge toy retail company and unfortunately the creative team is run by PRINT DESIGNERS. Every day is a constant battle especially with the flash issue.

    I will definitely be passing this article along to them. LOL.

    Nice Post!

  • http://www.mysecretwebs.com Placehold

    Hahahaha Yesterday i had a so called “Designer” chew my face off because i said i didn’t like flash, Apart from their main website looking like a DIY nightmare they insisted Flash was the most upto date.

    I kindly reminded them that CSS3, HTML5 and Silverlight 3 were all currently the most upto date, Of course we not friends now and most likely never will be

    God dammit people, If you wanna be a designer or programmer at least keep upto date with whats new and not new……




  • http://banhawi.com/ Banhawi

    :) i face these problem alot , thanks for the solutions

  • http://www.orphicpixel.com Mars

    i was smiling when i was reading this post,
    some of the above mentioned where once i encountered.

  • http://www.gregoryhughdavidson.com Greg

    This is so odd… cause as a designer I have never come across this.
    1. Developers seemed to push flash more… means they have to develop less ;)
    2. Developers I have worked with don’t know (much) CSS.
    3. I have never given a .psd file to a developer because they couldn’t even open it. I have always given the html/css to plug into the back end.
    4. In my opinion, if a designer leaves a design “open ended” then they did not finish the design and shame on them!
    5. This kind of ties in 2 for me… just need to do the CSS and give it to the developer.

    All in all if you are working for the same company trying to meet the same end goal you should all meet and work together as designer and developers as a team and not individual cells.

  • http://www.webunicorn.com WebUnicorn

    Web Designers know how to create CSS and HTML
    graphic or artist designer who believe their work in the second they email the PSD files aren’t a good option for any developing team

    What about the other side of the picture: where developers ignore the design concepts and ruin the end result page?

  • Sofistik8ed

    I had issues with developers not recreating my design the way I did it but instead of blaming them I thought it’ll be better for me to know what they have to do to achieve what I designed and it pays to know. I used to be intimidated by HTML/CSS and all the terms you developers like to ‘scare’ us designers with but it’s not rocket science. Learning will clear this love-hate relationship!

  • Jack Keller

    This for me is just a personal thing but I despise being handed a PSD with all of the text in there as Points over Pixels, just a peeve of mine I suppose.

    • http://www.speaking-in-styles.com Jason CranfordTeague

      I totally agree, and there’s no excuse for it. You can change from points to pixels in the Units preferences.

  • http://rafyta.com Rafyta

    Glad I’m both!!

  • http://designtowp.com Haris

    I’m a wordpress developer and my biggest pet peeve is when designers completely ignores how CSS works and add complex elements to the design which makes it very difficult and time consuming to code that particular part. This issue used to happen a lot but it has slowed down for past couple of months.

  • http://www.ekmedia.com Mel

    Best thing i ever did was learn how to code my own designs. That helped me to see down the road, how what I was designing would be translated into code. And now, developers like to work with me bc I can see the project from their point of view as well.

  • http://www.artisticinfo.com Rick

    First off let me state that I am a graphic designer. We all have pet peeves and with the little understanding of web design that I do have I imagine you would consider me “Dangerous” I know what my expertise is and welcome the input of others to produce a quality design that functions well. anyway my pet peeve is that most employers don’t know that there is a difference between web design and web development, not to mention the tremendous difference between print and web. How do we get people to understand that the same person, in most cases shouldn’t and can’t do both jobs. It is increasingly hard for designers to find jobs because of the duality of of the position employers are looking for. If they need web design hire web designer, if they need print or packaging hire a graphic designer. And just because you own the software doesn’t make you a designer.

  • David B.

    Any designer that displays any of those attributes are simply not hired. A web designer must understand the web and be technically able to code a basic web page without a WYSIWYG editor in order to work for me. Flash is not an option. Being able to reach customers with special needs far outweighs a swooping flash animation, and many libraries are out there that allow for some animation (in moderation). You can avoid many of these peeves right away by only hiring people who are competent enough to do the job. If they’re doing these things, they should be designing something else, not the web.

  • http://goldennetwork.net web design miami

    yeah , its really a daily bases conflict ! coz the designer is mainly creating , thinking in dreamy way but programmer is more practical and realistic . I like the team work !!

  • http://howyadoingraphics.blogspot.com Bret Taylor

    If your computer takes 5 minutes to open a file as small as 50 megs, it’s time to buy a new one.

  • http://twitter.com/karlaidoscope Karla

    HAHA! Seems like designers are right brained and developers are left brained.

  • http://www.glendelmdesign.co.uk Glendelm Web Design

    Hehehe, thanks for this article. A designer vs developer follow up would definately be fun :). Developers FTW.

  • http://www.glasgoweb.co.uk web design glasgow

    desingers and developers , its all about the money developers always make more , but a designer just sounds better

  • http://seowisedesigns.com Yheng

    Yeah sometimes it’s hard to dealt with but you’ll get used to it when you finally find a way how to handle thesituation accordingly and properly.

  • http://www.sidrablue.com.au Sidra

    All so true, and from experience, CONSTANT communication, no matter how trivial it may seem, is the key for both developers and designers to work as one.

  • http://www.michaelladdie.co.uk michaell4


    With regards to peeves 2,3,4 and 5, based on my experience as a developer with various agencies, they are all tasks given to the designer. At the last agency I worked for, I didn’t touch a css file or a photoshop file due to the FACT that they are all design related.

    Personally, the only peeve I feel that is relevant to a developer is getting told how to code PHP, javascript, etc by a designer.
    However, saying that, it is funny to find out how clueless a designer is. They have no idea how ‘easy they have it’

  • http://www.vibegraphics.co.uk web design

    Agreed. Design is all about simplicity (”common sense”). I don’t mean to set out any rules here. Just observations and suggestions from years of watching designers and developers interact.

  • http://www.i-graphic.co.uk/ i-graphic

    Ha Ha! Too true – and guilty as charged – Way back when though, thankfully!!

  • http://blinkwebmedia.net/ Blink Web Design

    PEEVE #3: is by far the worst of them all, constantly arguing with the designers on that , then they just put random squiggle, this is not what I sed , than it involves the staff beetler 2000

  • http://www.benstokesmarketing.co.uk Ben Stokes – web design

    Well . . . Nice article I think everyone has had a clumsy PSD file sent to them at some point, and they are a miver to sort out. But I think as long as all parties involved are talking to one another these problems do not happen, unless it is the start of the working relationship.

    Great article

  • http://www.websitefacility.co.uk Website Facility

    Perfect, thanks

  • http://www.treavioli.com Treavioli

    Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in an IT environment that I don’t do most of these things, but as a designer, I don’t do most of these things.

    #1 Hate Flash.
    #2 I learned HTML/CSS first, design-thinking later.
    #3 This is just poor and unskilled, not to mention unorganized, which is what a designer should never be.
    #4 This is probably the only peeve on the list that I could be accused of. Mostly because I’m thinking of the experience and if everything makes sense to give little attention to the copy/content.
    #5 Communication is definitely key. Developers: If you have a question, ask. Designers: A meeting where you explain the bells and whistles helps a ton!

    To fellow designers, if you’re not taking into account the people who will actually use the application and basically making a pretty app, then you’re not a designer. You’re a browser decorator.

  • http://www.dotsensebd.com dotSense

    hahaha…Good discussion (fight??…lol) but true is both are incomplete without anyone. :)

  • http://plmeer.wordpress.com/ Peter van der Meer

    Is this about professional designers? I really can’t imagine designers who do not know a thing about HTML and stuff, this article is either talking about young ‘designers’ or is saying that all designers are retarded.