Can a web designer survive without programming skills?

Started by musorhik, May 14, 2023, 12:27 AM

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musorhikTopic starter

Is it necessary for a web designer to learn programming? This is a common query among professionals in the field. Take my situation, for example: I have over six years of experience as a web designer and have never had any issues with layout since I always keep myself updated with the latest technologies and frameworks.

Although I have some knowledge in PHP and JS (jQuery), I struggle with programming as it is not my natural forte. This can result in me spending an inordinate amount of time working on seemingly simple tasks. Thus, the dilemma I face is whether to focus more on design and steer clear of coding or to develop my programming skills.

As technology continues to evolve, web designers are now required to have a well-rounded skill set, which includes knowledge of programming languages. However, this doesn't mean abandoning design altogether since many companies do require the services of designers who can create visually appealing websites. It ultimately comes down to the individual's interests and career goals.

 If one prefers to specialize in design, they can opt for tools such as WordPress or Squarespace that don't require them to have extensive programming knowledge. On the other hand, if they seek to broaden their skill set and take on more complex projects, it would be beneficial to invest their time in learning programming languages like Python or JavaScript.


I have always been involved with design, graduating from art school and working as a graphic designer in various organizations. However, I never felt truly at home until I tried programming. Despite initially feeling blind to its possibilities, I quickly found that coding satisfied my hunger for self-realization and creativity.

Writing code feels like painting a picture in three dimensions, with endless opportunities for harmonious composition and carefully thought-out details. When the code runs successfully, it's like giving birth to a child. If you're curious about programming, it's definitely worth trying, even if you never thought of yourself as a "tech person."


What's the point of torturing yourself with programming if it's difficult for you? But, based on your description, you have a good grasp of design, layout, and web programming basics. So, which field should you fully delve into?

I recommend focusing on design and its surrounding environment, specifically layout and usability. With the knowledge you already possess, you should explore uncharted territories in web design. Upgrade your skills in graphics, user psychology, interface development, and adaptability to different platforms. Familiarize yourself with JS frameworks, how they function and where they are used, and learn about web layout, techniques, methodologies, and technologies.

It's essential to be knowledgeable about the design field and analyze its competitors while also reviewing both classic and modern books about web development design theory. The fundamentals of programming will always be useful within this area, but it's not necessary to dive deeply into it.

Don't assume that programmers earn more than designers, or vice versa. Comparing wallets only works when comparing those with similar abilities and development, which is impossible. Instead, focus on yourself; I'm confident that you'll earn as much as a top-notch programmer. Moreover, if you're originally from a humanitarian background, becoming a great programmer would be challenging.

Thus, your path is clear: concentrate on design, usability, and layout – all yours!


Given your affinity for staying up to date with the latest technologies and trends, it may interest you to discover the current state of web design. The prevailing trend is minimalism, as graphic elements are minimized. Web design and code have become intrinsically linked, with HTML5+ CSS3 serving as the primary tools. This has led to a reduction in the need for extensive web design work, since fewer elements demand intensive consideration.

Some argue that modern flat and minimalistic design development requires as much time as was previously devoted to design work in 2005 when minimalism was not yet a prevailing design style. Personally, I disagree, believing that minimal design should require minimum time investment by definition. Despite any challenges associated with minimum design, we all appreciate its advantages, and ultimately, trends are trends.

One likely conclusion to draw from this is that programmer relevance is now increasing, potentially surpassing the importance of web designers.


The necessity for a web designer to learn programming depends on the specific goals and requirements of the individual. While having a strong understanding of programming languages can certainly expand career opportunities and enable designers to work on more complex projects, it is not necessarily a requirement for all web designers.

If you are comfortable with your design skills and have been successful in your career so far, there may be no immediate need for you to focus extensively on programming. However, it's worth considering that as technology continues to evolve, having some level of programming knowledge can be beneficial in terms of staying relevant and adaptable in the industry.

Tools like WordPress or Squarespace can indeed provide solutions that allow designers to create visually appealing websites without extensive programming knowledge. These platforms offer pre-built templates and customization options, making it easier for designers to focus on the visual elements rather than the underlying code.

Ultimately, the decision to learn programming or specialize in design depends on your personal interests and long-term career goals. If you have a genuine interest in programming and want to take on more challenging projects, investing time in learning programming languages like Python or JavaScript would be beneficial. However, if your passion lies primarily in design, there are still plenty of opportunities available for designers who can create visually appealing websites using existing tools and frameworks.

If you decide to pursue learning programming as a web designer, there are several benefits you can expect:

1. Enhanced problem-solving skills: Programming requires logical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Learning programming languages will help you develop these skills, enabling you to tackle complex challenges while designing websites.

2. Increased flexibility and versatility: Being proficient in programming languages allows you to work on a wider range of projects. You can take on more complex tasks, implement custom functionalities, and have more control over the design and functionality of websites.

3. Collaboration with developers: Having programming knowledge enables better collaboration with developers. You can communicate more effectively with the development team, understand their requirements, and work together to create a seamless user experience.

4. Improved efficiency and productivity: With programming skills, you can automate repetitive tasks, create reusable code snippets, and build efficient workflows. This can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus more on design aspects.

5. Adaptability to changing technologies: Technology is constantly evolving, and knowing how to code gives you the flexibility to adapt to new frameworks, platforms, and technologies as they emerge. This makes you a more valuable asset in the ever-changing web design industry.

While learning programming can offer these advantages, it's important to remember that becoming proficient in programming takes time and practice. It's a gradual process, so it's essential to be patient with yourself and set realistic goals. Start by focusing on one programming language at a time, gradually expanding your skillset as your confidence grows.