graphic designers -> web designers

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by benneh, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. benneh macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    #1
    hello all

    i decide to ask this here and not over at Design / Graphics forum because its got to do more with web, and I assume the other forum is more focused on print/cmyk stuff...

    Anyway, so my concern now is that I think any graphic designers, or those who graduated with a Visual Communication or Graphic Design degree can easily just hop over and become web visual designers.
    In terms of building the site, all they do is just read a "HTML for dummies" book and can easily code it up using table layout, and some basic css.

    They usually don't worry about SEO, increase/decrease text size, bloated divs, information architecture, because really, I think clients these days are uneducated in this. THey don't see the advantages of these features. All they care about is visual visual visual.
    I've dealt with many ignorant clients, who thinks they know more about web design than you (hmm funny, why did you hire me in the first place then?!), and are so stubborn about the visuals. "I don't care about all these marketing stuff, make my site pink and green dammit! And include a photo of my dog."

    And I also feel web studios only hire personnel at both extremes: Either you're a kickass designer or hardcore coder.
    The designer can then include in his/her CV: oh I know css, xhtml, javascript - boom, they're hired.

    /rant

    What do you guys reckon? The quality of the web has just gone downhill? Do sites that actually 'work' look crap? I hate the look of Amazon.com, but the number of hits they receive a day is amazing.
     
  2. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #2
    This is a problem I've been speaking about for years, and you've more or less hit the nail on the head. I have spent a lot of time on both sides of the fence, simultaneously growing my interface design and coding skills. My formal training is in Computer Science, but most of my real work has been in interface design. Many jobs and contracts I've gotten have been because of my grasp of both. For the most part, I have managed to ride a narrow rail, having a solid understanding of programming while still developing good looking sites. Fortunately, the group I now work with is similarly inclined to cross-train.

    I have worked with the people you speak of though. Often, my coders are really good coders, and they know they're not very good graphic designers and that their stuff usually looks like crap. They don't have any illusions about that, and it usually works out with myself or others massaging the interface into something pretty.

    The real problem for me has been graphic designers who think they can suddenly make web sites. I've had people who are fantastic, fantastic artists, but they are under the illusion that being a good artist means you can make a good web site. Typically, what results is an overdesigned, inefficient interface. Often enough, clients see the graphics peoples' designs and know that they won't work well. However, clients who are not exactly "in the know" may see these types of designs and jump at them...only to be disappointed later. I was once called in to fix a company's web site after they had just had it redesigned two weeks earlier. They had hired a graphic artist to do the whole thing...and what resulted was nothing more than Photoshop or Imageready layouts sliced into images using the export to web function, generating HTML files automatically. It was an utter disaster. 100% of every single page -- including the TEXT!!! -- was images. Consequently, things were loading great when they looked at the site in-house from their own servers. But when they looked at it from a remote location and had to load 500KB+ of images per page...they realized their mistake.

    The problem seems to stem from -- and this isn't ALL graphic artists, but I've seen it in more than a few -- the fact that some graphic artists are a little full of themselves and don't seem to think designing a good web site is very hard. "I can make really cool images, how hard can it be to make a UI?" One guy asked me for help in putting together his first web site. I sat down with him and he said, "OK, I've got another meeting in like 15 minutes, we can get done by then, right?" I just stared at him...he had never even created an HTML page before. But even more so than the technology is actually understanding the field of HCI: Human Computer Interaction. Most UIs I've seen from artists are actually terrible when it comes to usability. They think because it's pretty, it's good. But there's a lot more to it than that.

    Heh...this turned into something of a rant for me as well. The short of it is that the web does present a relatively easy way to get a site online. You really don't have to know hardly anything to make something quick and dirty. This is a double edged sword...without that ease, of course, we wouldn't have a lot of the web sites we have today and the Internet would have grown much slower. However, the other side is that it makes some people think it's too easy to make a high-quality site, and not everyone understands and respects the real professionals.
     
  3. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
    May 24, 2003
    Location:
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    #3
    i think the thing that a lot of designers do not realize is that there is a huge, massive chasm between "making" a website and "developing" one. i think that with a few hours of work, some books, a few tutorials, any designer can "make" a website, the same way any coder with a few hours of work, some books, a few tutorials can "make" a poster/publication/whatever. it does not mean either one is done correctly, is implemented properly, or works well.

    in my experience (which is not anecdotal; i know many, many many graphic designers and many many web developers) you are either a great coder/implimenter OR a great designer/theorist; you are almost never both. there is a reason why most intelligent designers who are not code wizards do the design while speaking to a developer, and then hand off some layered PSD's to a developer to actually implement and get on the web properly coded; all while maintaining a dialog with the designer and vice versa. i happen to find myself doing more web work these days than i actually wanted to; but rather than even pretending to think about doing the implementation myself, i have a great relationship with a few developers who can do everything i want to get done efficiently and correctly. I do what i am best at, they do what they are best at, the client gets a well designed, well thought out, well coded, well developed site that works on all browsers, that is fast and light, and that is meeting their needs properly.

    i totally agree that design school instills a "i can certainly toss up some code and make a website" mentality on its design students; and that results in some highly overdone and very poorly executed websites. my personal opinion is that any good design school program should teach the graphic designer enough about information design, hierarchy, sequencing, visual cohesion, branding, etc. to be able to have them understand the theory behind what a website should do and how it should work; and ideally it should give them a class in web development NOT to make them into developers, but to give them a knowledge base to be able to have an intelligent, informed conversation with a web developer. the designer should know what is possible, what is realistic, what will and will not work, etc.

    something else to be aware of re: arrogant graphic designers. a lot (not all) of graphic designers who go thru a good 4 year program in graphic design are exposed to a lot of theoretical, heady ideas and where their work lacks a basic requirement of "realism," or should i say "reality of production" - projects that if actually done for a real client with a real budget would never work in the real world. They work in a world of "theory" for a lot of their education. a lot (not all) of web developers work in a world of practicality for most of their education; either the site loads well, or it does not. either the navigation is confusing, or it is not. either the javascript executes, or it does not. they work in a world of "reality" for a lot of their education. Yes, the graphic designer (usually) works on understanding prepress, or dealing with paper choices; and yes the web developer (usually) works on information design, or sequencing; but overall it is two different mindsets in the education process: theory and reality. this is why so many graphic designers think web developers are "boring" and "compartmental" and "too pragmatic" and why so many web developers think graphic designers are "fanciful" and "artsy" and "unrealistic."

    its two different mindsets, each of which has its strengths and weaknesses. the smart web developer uses a designer the same way a smart designer uses a web developer.
     
  4. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #4
    There's a new breed of web designers who are very talented designers and know HTML/CSS better than any web developer. They tend to be far and few between, but they are out there. Most tend to have gone to art/design school for the foundation (print mainly), and learned about web standards on their own. Designers who are actually really technical. Who would have thought? :cool:

    How many print designers do you know that know adobe products like no other, but have no clue how to fix a computer. Then you have the web designers who have great design skills, but also know how to download, compile, and install Apache or Rails from the command line.

    [begin rant]

    But I agree, there are way too many underqualified, so-called web designers out there who think they know what they are doing, but don't even know why a doctype is necessary let alone how to build a website with semantic code. I think the main problem is that the web moves so fast, there aren't enough leaders out there who really know what they are doing.

    Whenever I looked for jobs in the past, I'd always see "must be proficient in dreamweaver" as one of the requirements. The guys hiring have no clue what they really need in a qualified web designer. Everybody and their mom can use dreamweaver. So everyone can put it on their resume. Building websites in dreamweaver is so easy and if someone knows how to use it, they automatically label them self as a web designer. They have good design skills and since their portfolio looks good from the front, they get hired.

    Then there are those that say web designers don't need to know how to code the site. That's the developer's job. Little do they realize that the markup and css is all about communication. Semantic markup usually isn't one of the skills of a developer. Most of css and html is more related to publishing than programming. Does a developer know about letter spacing and line heights? Does he know the difference between curly and straight quotes? Does he know that it's important to use labels in forms because it provides a better user experience and helps with accessibility? Some might, but these are things that a designer should be dealing with, not a programmer. This is why I always say a good Web Designer does not just build the UI in photoshop. He/She also knows HTML and CSS better than a developer would. Semantics, web standards, and accessibility should be important to the designer.

    [/end rant]

    Thanks for the leeway benneh. It felt good to get that out. :)
     
  5. murfle macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    #5
    I'm just going to add my rant... I've spent the past several years writing and working with commericial content management systems. My deal is writing web based applications, and making dynamic sites. While I can dabble in HTML/CSS, I'm much better suited to hand that stuff off to one of these graphic designers. That being said, I've had to deal with a lot of crappy HTML... They give me static markup, and I have to add in looping structures and whatnot. They see "This block needs 5 lines of content", but write it in such a way that we have to kludge our code to make our looping structure work around it, or just change what they provide us (and then they normally yell at you for changing what they provide) :/

    Thankfully now I'm in a position now where I can ask for graphics... and do the HTML/css myself. Just hopefully my 'design' skills can cut it...
     
  6. MagicWok macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #6
    I can definately understand this topic - and I'm a Graphic Designer!

    Now being a Graphic Designer, I can tell you why a lot of them think to go into web design. Typography. This deals with layout, typography images etc. and most importantly: Detail, Detail, Detail and Detail. So with this basic principle, it is understandable why they would want to ply their trade in the Web design business. But going through my course, I can confirm that it is not made clear how much work actually goes into making the site and there is no clear definition of a web designer and web developer. Most Graphic Designers should stay within the field of a web designer, making up the images and going through the process of layout and design which it is their strength. It's then a seperate person's job (the developer) to make it all happen. And that's where some Graphic Designers don't know where to stop.

    And my fellow posters here are right - there are some very talented Graphic Designers who are doing the right thing, learning about web standards and language first. I myself am looking to add to my skill set to eventually do some freelance web design. I've done it the right way as have some others, learning HTML, CSS etc. I'm now moving onto Flash and I'm learning Actionscript code to put together a website. If the web side of my work ever overtakes my Graphic Design duties at my current Studio's, I have a good friend, a Web Developer, who I'll partner with eventually.

    There are some doing the right thing, and learning to walk before they can run. But there are also too many out there with a copy of Photoshop, GoLive and iWeb thinking they have what it takes to make industry class sites.
     
  7. tominated macrumors 68000

    tominated

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #7
    I have only just started web development and design and I feel like have a gift for it! i started only a month or 2 ago and can already design a really complex css layout. BTW: I am only 13 as well!
    btw: sorry if i tread jacked a bit
     
  8. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #8
    arent your "Designs" templates mostly?

    which in terms of actual design, is not creative.
     
  9. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #9
    We all start somewhere. I wish I would have started when I was 13. I built my first website when I was 20. By the time he's 20, he will be very skilled and very valuable in the market if he works hard. I'm jealous of all these young folks who have such an early start in a career path that they love. Took me 3 years of college to finally decide what I wanted to do. The great thing about the young ones is they have that passion and willingness to learn and do things the right way. I remember a few months ago, Tominated was using rapidweaver and iweb. Now he's learning to code by hand. It took me 5 years of being hand-held by dreamweaver before I took the leap into hand coding.
     
  10. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    Behind the lens
    #10
    Youve got a point. But the words: "complex" shouldnt go together with a template.
     
  11. RojoLeo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #11
    You and I have butted heads before on this, but I think it was merely a communication issue. Hearing you explain it this way is very enlightening and actually points to a huge workflow issue I believe we're having at my office. I've got to go rethink our processes a bit before we make our next hire.... Thank you.
     
  12. noelister macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    #12
    I agree with radiantm3, we all had to start somewhere. I must say that I envy those that are getting such an early start. I remember that I did not even have a computer at home until late high school.
     
  13. kitki83 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #13
    omg you hate me

    well I am graphic designer. Finishing college, I still like to learn so I am taking Web Design courses at a community college. The basic HTML and CSS, but I am going to get my AA in that not sure what emphasis. The class had an assignment on whats the worst sites, and I saw what people could mean of loading a site with large web images.

    Ok my question is whats the different between Web programmer and web designer? Well i think I got an idea but prefer someone to really tell me straight.

    Thanks
     
  14. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    #14
    I guess i know what you are saying, but there are plenty of us out there who wear both hats without a problem. If you have a situation where there isn't a gap between the designer's skills and the programmer's, but rather an overlap, you've got all the bases covered.
     
  15. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #15
    You're right, it's absolutely best to have people that understand both disciplines, and each is an expert in one of them. The team I work with is full of people like that -- some are programmers/app designers, others are artists, others are interface designers. I do both programming and graphic/interface design, at least as far as extensive user interface work. But I am not an artist. For real artwork -- fancy logos, advertising, etc -- that's when you go for a real graphic designer. But this thread is pointing out that graphic artists often think of themselves as capable web designers or interaction designers, and tread on real web designers' turf.
     
  16. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #16
    Quick and dirty:

    Web designer (or really any app designer) -- structure, use cases, user interface, storyboards, usability tests, presentation. This is also the person who usually interacts most with the client.

    Web programmer -- implements (and maybe co-designs) the database, data classes, logic for handling the real functionality of the site/application

    Obviously, it's best if those two people (if it is two people -- often many web people are both designers and programmers if they've been trained well, although sometimes they'll have a separate person to do the UI) work very closely together and that their skills overlap as much as possible.
     
  17. smurfjammer macrumors 6502a

    smurfjammer

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    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #17
    I always get this....

    As a Graphic Designer I know where the line in the sand is... when it come to web design.

    I normally get asked about creating websites by new clients who have come in looking to get a corporate identity done.
    As soon as they mention me doing a website for them, I cringe... and then I tell them that I don't actually do websites but I can come up with a few concept pages as sample ideas then flick them off to a guy I know.

    I CAN do some basic stuff but my knowledge and trainning is in print so why bother.
     
  18. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #18
    Great post, so many clients and other industry professionals I deal with know how to design something but havs absolutely no idea about user friendly interface design. The best designs I have ever seen or used rely on being functional and athstetically pleasing most clients and designer go for looks and forget completely about user friendly navigation.

    Again great post and I'm glad to see there are industry professionals out there who can identify the two sides of design/functionality coin.
     
  19. smurfjammer macrumors 6502a

    smurfjammer

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #19
    Cowboys

    I think both industries have their cowboys but recently more Graphic Designers thinking that they are Web Designers.

    I blame it on two things: Adobe & Apple

    1. Adobe for bundling GoLive in the CS suite.
    2. Apple for making their computers affordable to Joe Public.*

    Now what happens is you get people buying a Mac Mini and a copy of Photoshop Elements and thinking that their a Graphic Designer which put the squeeze on Professional Graphic Designers who then dabble in GoLive and state that they do Web Design for extra income.


    * Disclaimer - I think Apple should make their products affordable to everyone
     
  20. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #20
    It's not just a graphics whiz vs. code whiz argument.

    As mentioned earlier, a vital third component is the information user interface -- the flow, the navigation, the structure of the site. This has to accommodate both the client's needs and the web visitors needs. It is more akin to storyboarding video and interactive display design -- there is the element of time, which is relatively unimportant in print, and the element of non-linearity (hyperlinking) which is also a more-or-less foreign concept to print designers coming to the Web for the first time 'behind the screen'.

    Clients often do not have a handle on how to tell their story and they always ALWAYS want three times as much information on each page as is practical.

    The UI-information design has to come before the graphic design. Sometimes the graphic designer is well versed in this, other times it requires another party to pull it together with the client and the designer, flow chart it, help make the editing decisions. The coder should have input as to the technology at this stage, because technology and budget can impose limitations on a 'blue sky' design concept.

    In my experience, graphic designers (until they have some sites under their belt) get caught in the trap of assuming that the degree of control that they have on a print project can be exerted on a web page (fonts, sizes, leading, resolution, colour fidelity, overlapping images, text runaround, control of line breaking, etc)

    (Story: I had one client break into a screaming fit because the image onscreen was not exactly the same size as the printout of the draft he was holding in his hand. I had to physically drag him to another computer and point out that monitors came in different sizes...)
     
  21. murfle macrumors regular

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    Mar 7, 2007
    #21
    That's an architect...
     
  22. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #22
    And you forget that every company with a web site is the next google.

    But nice post, I agree every designer who have ever handled any web based project or any person who has made a home page is a web designer.....

    With that logic I took some panadol for a head ache the other night so therfore I should be a doctor :confused:
     
  23. RojoLeo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #23
    Don't be unreasonable, he was actually making a very good point.

    Does the average person who self medicates lose respect for the entire medical profession?

    Does the average person who uses a WYSIWYG lose respect for web designers and programmers? Yes.

    There are plenty who "get" what we do...but the average Joe who can fumble his way around by using a WYSIWYG does immediately feel like they don't need a professional company.

    This is why companies lose bids to "the nephew."
     
  24. Yvan256 macrumors 601

    Yvan256

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    #24
    Export to HTML

    The "Export to HTML" function of many programs is to blame first and foremost. You then have clients telling you "well, how hard is it to design something and then export it to the internet". :rolleyes:

    This may be one of the hardest thing to work with, but as co-workers you have to try and educate them. They have to learn how to use the media as it is, not force the media to emulate another one.

    And this is the hardest thing to work with: clients who don't even understand the basics of technology.

    It gets down to this, if you take extremes as examples: you can either have a bad-looking but usable interface, or a pretty interface that's completely unusable. So the right way to do it is to make something that's usable and then make it look good (not the other way around).

    So, all I can say to you at this point, benneh, is "good luck". Team up with good people who know their limits, and hope to get clients who hire you for what you can do, not what they think they want.
     
  25. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #25
    And that's semantics. The person in that role could also be called a software engineer. Software designer/architect/engineer, all pretty close or even the same, depending on who you talk to.
     

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