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Designers These Days…

Published by Chris Coyier

... have a good design sense and understand the fundamentals / design principals.
... know all the major design software including the entire Adobe Creative Suite.
... have some basic video editing skills.
... know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
... know enough about server-side languages (PHP, ASP, Ruby, Python, etc) to understand how they work, what they do, and the possibilities of their use.
... know about servers, hosting, domain registrants, DNS, etc. Setting it up, and fixing it when it breaks.
... know OS X really well (and enough Windows to get by) or know Windows really well (and enough OS X to get by) and know a huge variety of utility software that goes with.
... are good photographers.
... can color correct photos and work in RAW.
... can cut clipping paths or otherwise extract objects from photos.
... have a killer online portfolio.
... are a personable, nice people that are good with clients.
... can help clients with anything even vaguely computer-related.
... are quick to adapt to new software and new technologies.
... can train fellow employees.
... can train clients on the use of their websites.
... are good communicators.
... are team players.
... have good taste in art, music and movies.
... are up to date on social media.
... are good at logic and deduction.
... are good at user experience and user testing.
... are SEO experts.
... know about and how to handle web accessibility (and the laws surrounding it)
... understand copyright laws.
... do progressive enhancement and graceful degradation techniques.
... can debug cross-browser problems and older browser bugs.
... can bring your own client base.
... are healthy, well groomed, and wear fancy t-shirts.
... can be on-call at all times for emergencies.
... have college degrees in design-related fields.
... own very nice and expensive computers full of expensive software.
... can design for mobile devices.
... are good typographers.

Partly tongue-in-cheek of course... but not entirely. The list of things a modern web designer should know is long, and each skill feels like it could be a lifetime in itself. Good luck learning that in a 2 or 4 year program (not that that isn't a good start).


  1. That’s right :)

    Thanks !

  2. Permalink to comment#

    So I guess, I have a long way to go. Tnx for the list Cris.

  3. Matt
    Permalink to comment#

    “have good taste in art, music and movies”

    So I guess my proclivity for porn, death metal and Michael Bay films makes me something less than a designer, huh?!

  4. Nice list. I think it misses the punch line that is:

    … has clients that are only willing to pay him as much as they pay the gardener.

    • Oooh! This one is good.

    • OllieJ
      Permalink to comment#

      That’s actually where I thought this post was going. Instead, I’m going to add that to the bottom in a nice, bold typeface.

    • Permalink to comment#

      My fave is when a potential client calls on a Friday to ask for a website to be done by Monday for $200 bucks.

      If they only new what went into designing a web page.

    • Permalink to comment#

      ing src=”their logo.jpg”

      Welcome to our new site!

      email to info at example dot com as we are still developing it!

      and come back soon

      (then some nice 90’s work in progress animated gif of a man with a yellow helmet and a jackhammer)

      (oh, and don’t forget the metallic, rotating @ sign near the email address, or the paper envelope that fly away)

    • I have a word for that. It’s “no”.

    • Permalink to comment#


    • Permalink to comment#

      Yes Jose you right :)

    • Permalink to comment#

      This is nice post and can be added …” is a robo”

  5. Permalink to comment#

    Funny, webmasters and sysadmins know all those things too!

    • Gringer
      Permalink to comment#
      replace('webmasters' OR 'sysadmins', 'designers')
       * Same tech-knowledge
       * + an extra designer at the same time
    • senshikaze
      Permalink to comment#

      just add more *nix your and you hit it on the head. oh and the innards of SQL. these damned designers never know when to quit :)

  6. Permalink to comment#

    Wow… never really thought of the sheer amount of “stuff” that a web designer goes through… It’s almost disheartening because clients want you to be able to do it all, and if you can’t, you might have lost a sweet gig.

    Nice smack to the face, Chris :)

  7. Permalink to comment#

    … have the ability to find ANYTHING on Google within minutes.

    Great post, Chris!

  8. Rémy
    Permalink to comment#

    …and make their best to be good parents! :)

  9. Dan
    Permalink to comment#

    And occasionally misspell “principles” :^)

  10. Permalink to comment#

    That is a great list, and with only the slightest touch of “sarcasm”.
    You are right though, and it doesn’t just fall on designers. I started designing cause I knew how to “build computers and work on them”. I had no clue what I was doing and I somehow managed to pull it off. Go figure.
    Hopefully one of these days they will pay us for all the knowledge we have, lol.

  11. Permalink to comment#

    Thanks, that’s good to know that I’m much up to date to handle my designers. Cheers :)

  12. Permalink to comment#

    Thanks Chris! I am going to refer a few clients to this list.

  13. Excellent Posting

  14. Bert de Vries
    Permalink to comment#

    … have a good understanding what a CMS is about.
    … know their eCommerce solutions.
    … last but not least: know


  15. Permalink to comment#

    This is a kind of ridiculous list. I know a lot of good designers who do not know half of these things.

    • Anthony
      Permalink to comment#

      I agree.

    • Agreed.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Yea, I agree. Sounds more like an ideal than a statement of what good designer actually know. Such as “be an expert in SEO”. There are people that are experts in SEO alone and get paid more than many designers do. Why do the get paid so much if all good designer are SEO experts too?

    • Permalink to comment#

      Psst, guys….it’s a joke!

    • arnold
      Permalink to comment#

      he’s right

    • It may be a joke, but it holds some truths. You should know CSS, Javascript, and some other languages. While it’s not mandatory, it’s definitely better to know them if you want a job

    • SEO only exist when designers/developers don’t do the best job possible.

    • Permalink to comment#

      No it doesn’t.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I beg to differ.

      SEO exists because it has started to become a whole new field/industry that branched out from webdevelopment/design.

      It’s not that designers didn’t do the best job possible. It’s just that some designers/developers decided to be better at SEO until there’s too much knowledge and techniques etc. developed focusing on SEO that it ceased to become ‘just-another-tool’ in a designer’s portfolio.

      It’s like you said that chemical engineers exist because chemists didn’t do their job well. Or nurses exist because doctors didn’t do their job well.

    • Permalink to comment#

      then maybe they are not so good?

    • I disagree as well.

      (BTW, the comment form looks great!)

  16. Permalink to comment#

    Why, Oh Why, didn’t I take the BLUE pill?

  17. Permalink to comment#

    tbh this is a pretty random post chris. I think this should be titled:

    Chris Coyier in 2010

  18. It seems that the newer designers know all of these things. I’m in my freshman year at a community college. Two of my teachers claim to be freelance web designers. Their list consists of:

    ..basic HTML
    ..even more basic CSS
    ..A fair amount of photoshop experience

    I nearly walked out of class yesterday when I was told we were going to make an ‘advanced’ layout with tables.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I do a graphic design course and our web-design teaching consisted entirley of dreamweaver. I didn’t bother going to those classes…..

    • Simply-Simpy
      Permalink to comment#

      Don’t be surprised if Dreamweaver and a table based layout become your best friends when you are asked to generate an HTML email.

    • I did walk out of a class that was like that. the tutor was only one step ahead of the class and he didn’t even know what css was until I showed him.

    • ‘advanced’ layout with tables….best thing I’ve heard all day.

      Actually, dude, that is just down-right frightening.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I love it it!! I think many of us feel your pain! I finished college almost a year ago. We had this independent study project, which was design your own portfolio and code it… Later that same day, the teacher walks around the class, stops at me and goes “WOW, is there a reason you are taking this program?”. Sadly enough, I said “well I would really just like to have that piece of paper that says I was here… and passed.”

      He was also teaching tables, and not only was he teaching tables… he was teaching in design view in Dream Weaver… So Awesome…. Teaching tables is good, but teaching it for a full design… bad idea.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I left my university course, when I started being the one teaching the teacher.

      Then I left University, and was taught by my colleagues, now I’m back to self-learning and forcing myself to make blogs and websites all from scratch, so no wordpress, no blueprint css, just PHP Classes, Object Orientated programming, SEO, Link analysis and some design. :-)

    • Permalink to comment#

      I am in the same boat.

      However, instead of skipping the class I contribute to it, assisting however I can and take the easy A (and brownie points).

      Sure, I have things I could be doing, but I also love sharing my design knowledge and motivating other people to persue their design plans.

    • Chris McCormick
      Permalink to comment#

      I think no matter how much you know about web design…you can always learn and know more. Being an expert at fooling people into thinking you know what your talking about is the most common skill MOST designers have! LOL!

    • Permalink to comment#

      Wish we were in the same class!

      (not that I’m taking a webdesign course, but what you decided to do was great)

    • Same story man. VERY scary that this is what they’re teaching. I knew more than my teacher did. Uh oh. It was nice though because he referred someone to me for a job. We’re discussing the terms of the contract now =]

    • Orico
      Permalink to comment#

      Gah! I thought I was the only one… I am a graduate assistant to the professor in charge of all the “internet” classes and the graduate program. I hate myself at the end of the day because I am required to teach tables for major structuring and design. His reasoning is that he doesn’t like css because he “can’t absolutely position anything!” and he can’t “force layout across all browsers.” When I raised the “small” issue of visually impaired users (since he was also arguing that he can’t use images in css like he could in tables) he said “screw ‘em!” And instead of making several pages to a site, he uses anchors for a huge scrolling page… I have been doing my best to undermine his teachings.

    • haha, “advanced layout with tables”…actually, this is pretty scary if this is what they’re teaching. I’m also in school and thankfully, I haven’t been in classes where I happen to know more than the teacher.

      Unfortunately, I believe some of my friends may have been taught outdated techniques in their classes (we each go to different schools). One offered to help me in a design for a magazine cover because they just learned how to design magazines in Word…I’m not sure if she was serious or what.

      One showed me a game website they built. I inspected the code and just as I thought – tables.

      I wish I could talk to them more about design, and blogs such as this, but I feel like it’s a field they’re not really passionate about.

      So, did you walk out? I would have. Or at least asked the professor as to why he was teaching out dated techniques.

    • No matter what you are taught in college / university you only really learn by doing.
      I was fortunate enough to get onto a new course split between the school of design and the school of computing, it was its first setup year, which meant that there was only a fairly loose idea of how the course would run.
      One of the main caveats was open knowledge when it came to teaching any code or tech related stuff was to teach the fundamentals so that when best practice evolved we could change with it.

      on the plus side, if they are teaching table based layouts to kids, my job should be fairly safe for a while :)

    • This makes me so happy that other designers out there have had horrible experiences with “formal” web design education. I thought I was alone.

      At my last job I had to interview interns right out of “design” schools. Horrible. No real CSS training and only the most super simple understanding of HTML (dreamweaver design view).

  19. Permalink to comment#

    I’m gonna make this a to-do list and see how many of these I can cross out three years from now…

  20. Josh
    Permalink to comment#

    Ahhhhhh… this list scares the crap out of me. lol

    Deciphering through the facetious elements, the ones that remain remind me that the road to becoming a great designer is indeed a long and arduous one.

  21. What I love about being a designer is that you have to keep learning. My undergrad was in film and television production, but my professional career has looked much more like an integration of film, TV, photography, print and web design and now social integration and networking. I think integration is fundamental to good design (as this post suggests), and that means being flexible and teachable.

    Love it. Thanks Chris.

  22. ADD – never stop learning to the list :)

  23. Permalink to comment#

    …have at least one blog. And writes more, then design.

    Great list.

  24. Permalink to comment#

    Nice list!

    …immune to red bull, mountain dew, monster and all other energy drinks due to over-consuming these products

  25. Lol Does that person exist? I would also add:

    1) Blogs everyday
    2) jacked up on coffee

    • Permalink to comment#

      In reply to both Ben G and Amber W, I remain on coffee (now limited to a few a week), and hopefully off red bull, relentless and more importantly … JOLT!

      I agree that having a blog is a good communication tool in websites, and its really commendable to see Amber blogging every day, even if it is just something here and there. Keep up the good work hun!

  26. Permalink to comment#

    I gotta say I disagree with a lot of points on that list.
    “… own very nice and expensive computers full of expensive software.” ?

    ha, maybe only in the us. you don’t need a expensive computer(most programming/photo editing apps aren’t very demanding specs-wise) nor expensive software(all software is free thx to the internet).

    • Permalink to comment#

      Or Open source on a Linux machine :)
      I loved designing websites on my Ubuntu laptop, with gEdit and a terminal based LAMP server.

      Ahh those were the days before Mac :D

  27. This is funny.
    And scary.
    Both because it’s equally true and impossible.

  28. Permalink to comment#

    guh… I really wish almost no designers new javascript and instead they all knew php, the world would be a wonderful place…

  29. Permalink to comment#

    “Clients these days” require all of these things…sad but true; You would think designers made millions with this skill-set…but sadly, no.

    The skills are respected, except when you add dollar signs to them.

    Great list Chris.

  30. Hmm, well groomed you say? Bummer.
    PS: love the nice fade out effect you added to these inline labels here.

  31. Chris. Is this from your perspective or have you polled designers for this case study?

  32. kochi
    Permalink to comment#

    It’s funny,
    but this list is why I downshifted to a print-designer some months ago. … I was just tired of having to know/learn everything while my salary stood still.

    Now I hope that someday I’ll get enough contacts/clients to start my own business ;)

    • David Brendan
      Permalink to comment#

      Why are you waiting to do this? The longer you wait, the longer you have to work for someone else. If you force yourself into the position of Business Owner, especially if you already have experience in the business, you’ll do just fine. Serious.

    • kochi
      Permalink to comment#

      I though I’d be notified by email on new comments … but I wasn’t …

      … I’m designing and building websites since 1998 and I am aware that I have a background knowledge that a lot of wannabees don’t have, … and you’re right, with this background I should start work on my own …

      But the reason why I still haven’t started my own business is a rather local problem … I live in Luxembourg/Europe (approx. 0.5 mil inhabitants) and starting successful business requires serious networking which I’ve missed doing for some years.

      I need to catch up contacts …

  33. I like this list, it gives me a bit of hope as I can say I know 38% of it. But is this list also applicable to a beginner or some one who is looking for their first design job?

  34. Permalink to comment#

    true !!! 60% of theme what i do everyday…

  35. Permalink to comment#

    I don’t know about the ‘Degree in a design-related area’ part.

    I was trying to work on a “New Media” degree and it was killing me. The curriculum was so far out of date, I just ended up switching to General Studies so I could take classes about whatever I want.

    Now I couldn’t be happier!

    • You are right about New Media, the technology changes so fast that schools have a hard time keeping up. Design-related studies in a more classical way, can help a lot though.

    • Totally agree with Adam here, get a foundation in design theory and a lot of the other aspects fall into place

  36. Got 99% of those except the college degree…and no plans on ever getting one! ;)

  37. …works till the wee hours of the morning
    …the word “can not” is not in there dictionary

    I would say that web design and web development are not mutually exclusive.

  38. It took me about 12 years to learn all that.

  39. Permalink to comment#

    Need to add to the list.

    …need to know how to build a PCI compliance site.

  40. Permalink to comment#

    This is why we have different disciplines now that split all these up into different job titles. I used to be classified as a web designer doing a little of all of that. Now I’m a UI Developer, focusing mainly on html, css, and javascript. It’s nice to be able to do some graphic work or tweak some php when I need to though :)

  41. Kris
    Permalink to comment#

    A great designer can create a better design using a pencil and paper than most of us can create with our fancy software.

    And UX shouldn’t be a bullet point in a list of web design skills. The experience IS the thing, and every aspect of a website or software contributes to the experience: graphic design, server speed, page weight, interaction design, content, copy, feature, yada, etc.

  42. Good post Chris. I think you should have called it GOOD Designers these days.

    Also it really depends what you mean by “designer” since designing a sound layout, GUI and or information architecture is possible without actually developing the site.

    Regardless, this is a really nice list to keep in mind, and yes it is more than a lifetime commitment.

  43. Permalink to comment#

    “do progressive enhancement and graceful degradation techniques.”

    You should follow your own advice!

    Progressive enhancement means not only taking advantage of experimental/next-gen features in browsers that support them, but also preparing for when vendor-specific solutions are dropped in favor of the universal standard.

    For instance, there was a time when no browser supported “getElementsByClassName()” in Javascript, but scripts could be written to emulate the method with code branches for vendor-specific solutions. But the first check in the code is still to see whether or not the native method exists, because when the day comes that it does, the code would otherwise stop working. The same is true for the CSS examples in the article linked above.

    • Progressive enhancement means not only taking advantage of experimental/next-gen features in browsers that support them, but also preparing for when vendor-specific solutions are dropped in favor of the universal standard.

      I don’t necessarily agree. I think the reason that they are vendor specific extensions is because it’s not 100% that the “actual” property will be implemented that way or at all. By using the “actual” property, you are suggesting you know more about the future than browser vendors do.

      In the case of “border-radius”, you’ll probably be right, but there are many others who’s future is more ambiguous.

    • Permalink to comment#

      That is a great point, especially for more complicated CSS3 modules.

      But let’s be honest. We’re really only using presentational CSS3 modules whose implementation is roughly congruent across browsers anyway, like box-shadow and especially border-radius, which, as you pointed out, will almost certainly not change in its final implementation.

      So when someone comments that you should add forwards-compatibility specifically to your border-radius definitions, it is bad advice to argue otherwise.

      On a site with influence like this, that kind of advice can be troubling. While your argument here (no one knows exactly how every module will behave in the end) is sound, your argument there (that because no browser supports it, it is worthless) is far from it.

  44. Permalink to comment#

    Lol, I’m learning this stuff in school!

    So it’s even possible in 3 years. 2 more to go ^.^


  45. @lingokid
    Permalink to comment#

    Awesome post.

  46. Lol mate… almost all of them are correct ;)

  47. silvers
    Permalink to comment#

    i think it’s a good checklist to see how you’re gettiing on.

    i don’t think that all are essential. for example i don’t have a degree in web design. i have been teaching myself for as year and i am further on now than most people are when they come out of their course.

    i think what is so great about web design is that you can teach yourself, and all the information is there on the internet.

    css-tricks has been fundamental to my success. i got a job within 7 months of starting, have built over 200 sites for the agency i work for. 7 freelance websites and have 2 more job offers.

    so if anyone is reading this and wants to know if you can make it without a degree…


    • Amber Sjomeling
      Permalink to comment#

      but what about everything you never thought to google?

      i taught myself html and css several years ago and am now going to school for it. My experience and before hand knowledge has definitely made school easier but the information i gain from my teachers’ (who all currently work in their field – required to teach there) experience, and simply the things i never even thought about are crucial to me. I also go to a tech art school, so everyone i am surrounded by is a design major of some sort (also culinary and photography). So not only do i get great, current info i also get insight into different areas of design and you know..networking (bah).

      i don’t doubt that you can make it in the web design industry without a degree (in fact, go you!), all i’m saying is dont underestimate the amount of knowledge you can gain from being surrounded by your peers.

    • Gorgeous George
      Permalink to comment#

      “The only thing that gets in the way of my learning is my education” – Albert Einstein.

  48. Gregory
    Permalink to comment#

    …know that local brick builders/dealers would get more business from architects/construction-type-folks by sending them little paperweight bricks (w/ chiseled 411) rather than designing a poster or website.

  49. Anna
    Permalink to comment#

    Sounds about like the Web Design and Interactive Media program at the Art Institutes.

    I’m about 5 months from graduating a 3-year program, and I’m expected to be really good in Photoshop and Illustrator, and at least proficient in Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash.

    To graduate, I need a portfolio that includes (lots of) PHP/MySQL, Javascript, AS3, standards-based html/css.

    That means at least one eCommerce website with a shopping cart that connects to PayPal, one community website with a blog and/or forum system that users can sign up for and use, and a website for a real client with a CMS so they can update their own information.

    The classes are ridiculous. We work on a quarter system, rather than Semesters. Classes are 4 hours long, once a week for 11 weeks. 5 classes per quarter. They include about 30% design/art classes, 50% programming classes (html/css, as3, javascript, and several php classes), and 20% photography/video/audio/motion graphics.

    I can check off all but 3 of the items on that list.

    Needless to say, I’ve become a coffee connoisseur over the last 2.5 years.

    • Amber Sjomeling
      Permalink to comment#

      which Ai do you go to? we have 2 – 3 hour classes twice a week with only a 4 class full load in Mpls. so much better. i haven’t looked into what they require for your ending portfolio (im only half way through my bachelors degree), but i’m sure it’s similar.

  50. Designers these days… need to be Superman!

  51. Permalink to comment#

    sounds more like a list of what a front-end developer should be. a designer does things in photoshop (from the web perspective) thats it ;)

  52. I think the word “designer” needs to be replaced as it is inadequate for describing the sheer volume of knowledge/skills one has to possess. perhaps the word “genius” fits better :)

  53. Great list! Encompasses a lot of what we have to do these days. Also have to be able to recognize/style around many code languages including C#, PHP, VB, etc. Seeing this list, and knowing I can do many if not all of these makes me feel pretty dang smart ;o)

  54. Permalink to comment#

    well said and GREAT comments!

  55. Tuomas
    Permalink to comment#

    Thanks for the list, Chris. Guess with my impressive collection really fancy t-shirts I’m well on the way to becoming a top-shelf designer…

  56. Beck Davies
    Permalink to comment#

    I knew I was busy and here’s the evidence to prove it!

    An addition to the list…self-employed people know some about managing their own business too.

    • Which is a HUGE list all to it’s own.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I agree with you guys, just with the business you can double the list. Also, I think you should change the tittle to “Good Designers These Days”, although I think people understand that after the read the list.

  57. Permalink to comment#

    lol, I’m a front end designer/developer and never claim to be anything besides this, but everybody always assumes this means I know how to use “html” to create shopping carts or cms.

  58. Permalink to comment#

    I think somebody who is apt at all these won’t be a good designer but rather a developer with some design ability. As the saying goes; jack of all trades, master of none.

    Also disappointed to see not one point about the ability to generate ideas.

    Design is NOT about how much software you know.

  59. Permalink to comment#

    Wow my college ripped me off…! They didn’t mention anything about fancy TShirts!

  60. Permalink to comment#


    I totally feel you on this list. Since web design is such a catch all term for the public at large that ends up meaning all of the things you listed above – it seems like web designers are supposed to be something like writer-directors. By that I mean, synonymous with those Wes Andersons, Tarantinos, and P.T. Andersons of the world – those who not only write the films they make, but direct them as well. It’s ridiculous, but the public expects web designers to be the same way – ‘You can design a website right? Well, I would like you to build me Twitter – but better. My budget? about $400 bucks.’

    • Chris Brailsford
      Permalink to comment#

      Can’t say I disagree here. Most of the people commenting on this article are saying “Thanks for making sure I was on the right path with all the knowledge I should know”, or “Well, I’m almost there… Here’s to learning the rest in school”, etc. They just don’t get that its SO tongue in cheek.

      Designers should NOT have to do all these things, but it is now what the public is coming to expect. “Oh, you’re a web designer? So that means you can design the page, build it, integrate twitter and make an API for our app, custom build a CMS and add our shopping cart to it, right?” NO. It means I can only do so much. If you want ALL of that, you’re either going to have to hire more people, or find that one person in a few thousand that is an expert in ALL of that.

      I know a lot more than I started, but my degree was NOT in design. Why does that disqualify me from a job? Because I don’t know a certain language, I can’t build your site? What are you SMOKING? Do YOU even know what you’re asking for? Shakes my head. Some people…

    • Crys
      Permalink to comment#

      I… can’t believe how many people reading this post didn’t get that this was what the list was about. It’s not that we all know this or even should or that it even in any way addresses what makes someone a good designer or is what we do. This list is what is demanded of designers on a daily basis from both employers and clients, presented in a somewhat tongue in cheek style. We’re supposed to be rockstar creatives with the ability to wave a magic wand and take care of every aspect of anything visual or technical whether it has to do with the site we’re working on or not (including being called by clients because they’re having trouble getting Word to run on their computers), but to do so without any respect or monetary compensation in return. Yes, people will actually ask you for a full featured social networking and ecommerce site that’s going to be the next facebook and youtube rolled into one, with a twenty minute video that you will write, cast, shoot and edit yourself, all in two days for $400 and then they tell people how bad a designer you are for turning down their “reasonable project” (Yes, that was actually the client’s description and budget for a project I turned down a couple months ago).

  61. Permalink to comment#

    Hi Chris nice to see an article by you in .net mag on wordpress “Css Guru Chris Coyier” have not had time to read it as yet, but I will get round too it.


  62. Designers today specialize in a broad range of topics that won’t sit still. Every six months my list of things-to-know increases by 50%.

  63. Permalink to comment#

    Great list and I agree with every point bar one “SEO experts”. I truly feel that that seo is an lifestyle rather than an aditional skill…at least for winning on the really competitive terms anyway :P

    So glad i’m young and have plenty of time to learn!

  64. Designers are pretty lazy these days *rolleyes*


  65. Jaziel
    Permalink to comment#

    hmmm I don’t see. good with Action scripting 3. would that be a good add too?

  66. Don’t you mean “Good Designers these Days…” ?

    I know many “Designers” who don’t know squat about some of that stuff. One in particular comes to mind. A decent print designer, but doesn’t know one bit of HTML or any Web based language – though she is a horrible Web designer.

    Great list. And yes, many of those take years to learn. lol.

  67. Permalink to comment#

    Very nice list – still you left out the first and most important line

    “should be able to pretend they … ”


  68. no
    Permalink to comment#

    This is asinine. Anyone who says they can do all of these things well is lying to you. Anyone who says they need one person to do all of these things is lying to themselves.

  69. Permalink to comment#

    … Know … JavaScript?! What does that mean? What is know here? I don’t get it. Just to make a drop down with JavaScript doesn’t make you know it.

  70. Jarap Brusk
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m all those things and more! No joke.

  71. J.R. williams
    Permalink to comment#

    Wow…. thats a lot of stuff to work on if i was trying to be perfect. Can’t hurt to try though.

  72. Rolando
    Permalink to comment#

    What a wake up slap in the face! this is definitely a reality check for me. nice list I’ll make copies and stick them everywhere… fridge, bath, car, coockie jar, haha!!
    Thanks Chris.

  73. GraphicGorilla
    Permalink to comment#

    Good list,

    although as I read through it I believe ‘good web-designers these days’ is more appropriate. The Designers at my office do print and know a lot of other stuff then this. As a digital designer myself I feel that the list isn’t covering everything for me. But I must admit that I only have a good knowledge of SEO, I’m not an expert (yet).

    If I ever start a list for a digital designer I will give you the heads up and the necessary credits!

    You’re great!

  74. So true! this behaviors are in our blood :)

  75. Interesting list here. I am fairly new to the web designer game and yet I find myself constantly trying to add another skill to my toolbox. I run across a new project that offers a new challenge and decide that I really need to learn something new to make my life easier the next time I try it.

    Thanks for this.


  76. Matt
    Permalink to comment#

    You forgot own cats too. Never understood why designers or IT people own cats but never dogs. Or the majority own cats.

    Disagree with the well groomed, most of the designers I have met are sloppy.

  77. Sahan
    Permalink to comment#

    That’s right !

  78. OK, this is a bit of an X-Files moment. I posted an article on the ‘must have skills of a web designer’ on my site this week. I admit your list is far more thorough. I don’t do tongue-in-cheek as well as you. Well done, sir.

  79. Permalink to comment#

    You can add…

    Cutting edge Flash designer/developer with AS3

    Back-end designer/developer with expert knowledge of Forms, Logins, and Databases

    Expert level PHP

    Can set up testing servers.

    Must be expert level designing and developing in WordPress AND Joomla AND Drupal plus various enterprise CMS.

  80. Permalink to comment#

    Well… I think the post should be called “THE PERFECT DESIGNER” because its very hard to have and be all those things.

  81. Chipp
    Permalink to comment#

    I have to say… I somewhat disagree with the above. When I look to hire a designer, either Graphic or UX (or combo), I tend to look at their DESIGN skills first. Do they understand figure/ground issues? What is their understanding of color and layout? I want to see in their portfolio some outstanding work. I could care less if they are up to snuff on the latest SEO, CSS, or XHTML. They can LEARN that– but trying to LEARN how to create outstanding design– is much MUCH harder– if not impossible for many.

    If you’re referring to being a successful website designer/entrepreneur… then I would agree. A person like that must wear many hats.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I totally agree with you about creating outstanding designs. I’m an illustrator by natural-born gifts, yet I have a hard time putting my fantastic ideas into the software. Hmm… this sounds lame. Maybe I should just use a scanner.

  82. tomm
    Permalink to comment#

    Hmmm the easiest is “Be the boss” then you can hire designer with such skills *_*

  83. Excellent one!!

  84. Daniele Pignedoli
    Permalink to comment#

    Mhhmmm.. “know about servers, hosting, domain registrants, DNS, etc. Setting it up, and fixing it when it breaks.”… i dont think this design related, and setting up a server without understand what exactly it means, can do more damage than other

  85. Permalink to comment#

    So, basically what you are saying is that ” Designers are the new Rockstars” !

    I Agree !

    Great post !

  86. Permalink to comment#

    30 / 35 ? not bad I guess eh ? lol

  87. Chris McCormick
    Permalink to comment#

    I think no matter how much you know about web design…you can always learn and know more. Being an expert at fooling people into thinking you know what your talking about is the most common skill MOST designers have! LOL!

  88. Permalink to comment#

    Well i guess i need a little time for all that…

  89. Permalink to comment#

    Great post. Have to say that all of the designers working for me line up with 95% or more of that list. It is not only possible to know it all, it’s required in this day and age. Thanks for list Chris.

  90. JMichael
    Permalink to comment#

    That is so damn painful to read bit oh so true!

  91. Sure, someone could “attempt” to know all this but I’d feel sorry for their half ass attempt in being a pro on all those things. Especially programming languages, such as JavaScript and PHP. Programming is not design and must be done for years to acquire expertise in it, dropping a few lines of Jquery doesn’t mean squat because when something breaks you cannot just drop two extra lines in fix it. You now have to find someone who actually knows what they are doing in it, JavaScript is just as much a programming language as the others and not to be grouped with HTML or CSS.

    A designer should know how to communicate to how to solve design related issues before all else. One must be able to communicate with people to create and forge opportunities, who you know takes part in how far you make it in life as well as what you know. You should be able to communicate your ideas to a client or to your boss in the office as well. I would say it nearly always comes down to two qualities, communicating and problem solving at the core.

    A web designer should obviously know mark-up (HTML, CSS, XML) as well as being able to create nice user interfaces. I’d have to disagree with expensive software. A tool is handled by a master, not the other way around. Giving someone Photoshop doesn’t make them a designer anymore than giving someone a pair of boxing gloves makes them a boxer. Expertise and years of experience working in various environments are a much better indication of one’s level of skill.

    Many people are good at English and suck at logic (say some type of math for example), so this is just forcing the issue. People need to pursue whatever it is they enjoy doing, plus some necessities but not to the point of spreading themselves so thin that they can’t see the other side of the fence in any of their “supposed” to be mastered topics. I would agree more if it was a business owner or something, but even then that is still pushing it. The human brain is powerful, but multi-tasking has its downfalls too.

  92. Permalink to comment#

    LOL … When I need a good “pick-me-up”, I’ll come here!

  93. Kind of overwhelming if you see it one go, but when you come to think of each one of these skills, it is true. Designers are SUPERMAN these days. Nice one Chris.

  94. The majority of the stuff in this list make sense. I’m considering to forward this my HR friends, they’ll have a better idea about what it takes to be a good designer. That said, I have a hard time swallowing: “… are healthy, well groomed, and wear fancy t-shirts.”

  95. Toufik
    Permalink to comment#

    Nice list indeed, but a question to Chris Coyier, are you are designer? if yes i guess you know everything in the list and really “bravo” if not well you know “The list of things a modern web designer should know is long, and each skill feels like it could be a lifetime in itself. Good luck learning that in a 2 or 4 year program (not that that isn’t a good start).”

  96. Permalink to comment#

    I would like to fold it like this..
    Designers These Days should be a Designing House

  97. Permalink to comment#

    This list is pretty right on

  98. Deepak kaletha
    Permalink to comment#

    Thats really very nice……….

  99. Michael Tucker
    Permalink to comment#

    As the list of expectations for the website designer/front-end developer grows, it seems the list of technical expectations for the executives they are working for is shrinking.

    Five-year-olds are blogging yet I have to routinely teach six-figure-salary executives how to use a WYSIWYG editor.

    I would also add “be interior decorators” to the list ;-P

  100. This is a great and very accurate list. While few designers are truly great at all of these things, there are many out there who are good at most of these, and great at a few. However, lists like these need to be further promoted to grow awareness for what it truly means to be a web designer in 2010.

  101. Permalink to comment#

    hey, I have a lot of gorgeous t-shirts, but I don’t look so nice inside them. I come put better in polo and regular shirts. does it count the same?

  102. Permalink to comment#

    True, true. But most of the pointers designers should know.

  103. Permalink to comment#

    …Love what they do.

    ^ It’s a prerequisite to be “good” at ANYTHING.

  104. Very nice list. I never heard of SEO, but then again, I’m just starting out. It seems I’ll have to go read up a bit on it. I also like the little comments in the list about fancy tshirts. Put a smile on my face :)

  105. Stephen Baker (Csn)
    Permalink to comment#

    Lol. This makes me feel like I have a very long way to go. Luckily I already know javascript, css, and php. Great article. :)

  106. lauren3g
    Permalink to comment#

    You forgot:
    print design & production
    web design & production
    Copyrighting, Editing, proofing
    Know how fix the network
    Have no more than 2-4 years experience

  107. JimHalpert
    Permalink to comment#


    You’re forgetting one of the basic fundamentals of design. “Market Research”. If you don’t fully understand what you are designing for, how can you design it? Also, if you don’t know PHP / MySQL like the back of your hand, you should throw in the towel now, because I’m tired of you hacks sending clients my way after you’re put them through the ringer, wasted their time and money and thoroughly irritated them, all the while, putting a bad taste in their mouth about designers in general. This alone drives down the value of design work for everyone.

    Stop screwing it up with your amateurish ways, go get some real world experience, not just what you learned in your HTML class in Middle School and leave design to the real professionals.

    k, thanks.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Marketing in general I’d say. Advertising and promoting a product or site, ie: Twitter, Facebook, etc.

      Also, HTML email marketing, and email design, and all that awesome need to know stuff about designing emails for all email clients.
      Love doing that! It’s like 1995 design styles.

  108. Permalink to comment#

    My girlfriend wants a career change and has asked me to teach her everything I know. I’ve been stuck on this because there is SO much you have to learn in this field that it’s hard to know where to begin teaching 10 years of experience. This list pretty much illustrates why!

  109. many of this things look funny but are reals

  110. RC
    Permalink to comment#

    You might as well sum up this article with:

    “Designers These Days are jacks of most modern day technologies and master of none.”

    At least that’s what the experience feels like for me. For the amount of money clients are willing to pay these days, and their expectations of your skill set, I think sometimes I’d rather go and greet shoppers at Walmart for marginally less pay.

  111. HYSEDE
    Permalink to comment#



    Great post.

  112. Kevin Hogg
    Permalink to comment#

    …are becoming more like developers everyday and vice-a-versa

    As a developer with an interest in design, I’m continually amazed at how the lines blur between the asthetic and functional worlds

  113. “Designers These Days are jacks of most modern day technologies and master of none.”

    I’m a master at makening websites! And yess you have to know and do alot these days to keep up.

  114. Permalink to comment#

    I dont have a college degree :( … but Im good enough in anything else, that counts?

  115. Permalink to comment#

    I learned most of these things while I was blogging. I am not supposed to be a designer, but these are needed even you’re not.

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