I'm a programmer (not a designer) and I work with various designers in the marketing industry. A typical project will consist of a designer coming up with a design for a web page and then handing the design off to me (PSD file or whatever) and I implement the design into a webpage (HTML, CSS, etc...).

The problem I run into a lot though is that a lot of designers don't know how to design with the web in mind. They come from a background of designing for print material, and they approach web design the same, which simply does not work. They don't think about things like "What happens to the design when the user changes the browser size" or "tileable background images" or designing using a grid/column system instead of placing elements all over the place or "You can't have a DIV with multiple background images that works for all browsers", or "don't use 12 different web fonts", etc...

How do I instruct designers on how to better design with the web in mind? Are there resource for this or books out there that approach the various challenges and hurdles to this? Or do they simply have to learn from experience?

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    I once started out as a print designer. Then internet came and I learned my HTML/CSS/JS. Soon after I dived into C/C++ and pushed myself towards thinking code. Years later, I'm covering many sides of the medal. So, why am I telling you this? Well, they are print-designers. If they want to design websites, they'll have to adapt and learn. They don't need to be able to code & secure a CMS from scratch, but they should know the media they work with and design for! Simpler: they should learn by themselves. Technology evolves... either they adapt or die. My2Cents: kick their XSS! (pun intended)
    – e-sushi
    Aug 5, 2013 at 17:53
  • Essentially, this question is "how does one become a good web designer?". Which, while an excellent question, is perhaps a bit broad for StackExchange.
    – DA01
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:38
  • But to answer the question, the best web designer I've worked with learned from experience...and were typically fluent in the medium they were designing for.
    – DA01
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:39
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    I agree with the broadness of the question. Why not re-focus it to something in the lines of "What requirements should I give, as a developer, to my web designer"?
    – Yisela
    Aug 5, 2013 at 21:28
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    @Jakobud to 'design better for the web' they need to become better at 'web design'. I guess I'm not seeing a difference there. Essentially, for a print designer to become better at designing for the web, they need to better understand the medium. It's a broad topic, but would include things like interaction design, browsers, the DOM, usability design, accessibility design, separation of content and structure, code reusability, etc, etc. There, unfortunately, isn't anything like a 'top 10 tips and tricks' answer to this.
    – DA01
    Aug 5, 2013 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


I've done a lot of this kind of training over the last few years as good print designers find their opportunities dwindling. If you find a good designer (ie someone who can visually communicate an idea well) they can learn web. But it takes time.

Making due

You can help by consulting with them on technical concerns as they develop their designs. Reminding them of unfixed and interactive challenges and opportunities goes a long way. Offering guidance on where html/css/js fits into the equation will help them understand the tools at their disposal.

An ideal scenario

But you probably don't have time for that. The better scenario is to have them work with a seasoned senior-level interaction/interface/web designer. They need to take the lead on a web project and run their ideas through that mentor. In my experience, it takes about a year in this relationship to 'get it'. The mentor's oversight slowly tapers off over that time.

In response to the comment ...

Wash your hands of it

Just give those lazy print designers a list of links and make them study.

  • So there are no existing resources out there that can help designers with designing for web, short of someone teaching each of them? Aug 5, 2013 at 22:27
  • There are certainly existing resources out there: web sites, books, conferences, schools, tutorials, etc.
    – DA01
    Aug 5, 2013 at 22:31
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    I've added a token site for kicks. Aug 6, 2013 at 0:22
  • @Jakobud For a more creative approach and for inspirational kicks, they could check OnePageLove and sites like that so they - at least - learn what "modern web" can look like. After you showed them that, ask them to design like that. They'll recognize they're missing something and they better start learning if they want to have a future as professional designers. I think one thing should be clear: it's not your job to teach them. But indeed Smashing Mag is a good starting point, just like Abuzeedo and UXbooth.
    – e-sushi
    Aug 6, 2013 at 17:14
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    I wouldn't encourage someone who doesn't have a feel for web yet to think about one-page sites. There are a lot of bad experiences committed in the name of one page love ;) No more paralax / scrolling animation superfluosity please! Aug 6, 2013 at 17:17

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