Should Web Designers Know HTML and CSS?

Six Revisions has an interesting article following a debate over whether a web designer should know how to code a site. This is an important topic as more and more DIY options become available. Today there are dozens of options to create a website without knowing a lick of code. Should these people call themselves web designers?

The reality is, in a world of $99 websites, it’s hard to sell someone on the benefits of a well-coded website. In a perfect world, you would have a designer designing and a coder coding to create a site. But with the job market being what it is, employers expect designers to take on more and more hats. Nowadays you’ll see job descriptions for designers that require print, web, flash, and even video on occasion. It’s crazy.

The field of web design itself, used to separate back-end and front-end. Now it’s rare to see a web-design job that doesn’t require knowing both. IMHO, getting to know PHP is something that can take an entire career, but you’ll never see a job posting that doesn’t also require half a dozen other languages.

What you end up getting are a lot of people that try to do everything, and do it badly.

This is bad for the web.

Imagine turning off all the images, all the java plugins, all the flash, and all the css styling. The internet would be a disaster as the majority of websites would be unusable. (Not the big ones which, not surprisingly, have the budgets to separate the tasks of web design).  This shouldn’t be the case. After all, the internet is about information, not fancy graphics and killer layouts. Websites should function without all this crap. You can still put lipstick on the pig, but the pig better work dammit.

Semantics are important. In this case if you can’t code, you’re not a web designer. You are a designer who creates websites. Period.

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