Do You Need To Be a Good Designer AND Coder?

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Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

This question was sent in by Greg Arndt.

Is being proficient in both design and coding fairly common in web design or is a person usually better in one rather than the other. I find my trouble is that I can code easily, but have an extremely difficult time designing a website. If it’s common to be good in both and typically do both in a job, any suggestions on achieving knowledge in the other field? Not only would I love to learn how to design better, but find it rather enjoyable when trying.

Ideally you should be a skilled designer, crafty coder, usability expert, customer service saavant, basket weaving master, be able to drive an 18-wheeler, sing in three octaves and if you have some extra time, learn to prepare Fugu so it won’t kill you.

But, if you just don’t think you can pull all that off, I think it is much better to get really good at a few things than it is to be mediocre at lots of stuff. If you are looking to advance your career, it’s going to be a lot easier to get a new job or move up at a company if you are super good at PHP. Or, you have a killer portfolio with stunning work in it. Not many companies out there advertising looking for a “jack-of-all-trades”. In reality, that might be what they need, but that’s almost never how they hire (in my limited experience).

That being said, I feel like if you are shooting for “web designer” as your career, you really should have a good eye for design, be good in Photoshop, and know HTML/CSS. That’s what I consider a “web designer” to have as a skillset.

We are talking purely professionally here though. More importantly you should do what makes you happy. If you are way happier being a jack-of-all-trades type than a narrow-focus type, than you should do that! To be perfectly honest, I see myself as more of jack-of-all-trades, which I feel has been a bit limiting for me, but I’m quite happy doing it.

The most important skill of all? Be a nice, genuine, honest person!