Aside from its bitmap effects, can someone tell me why I should use Photoshop for creating website layouts instead of Illustrator? To the best of my knowledge Photoshop was never intended to be used as a layout application and is inferior to both Illustrator and InDesign by a longshot as such.

I know about building sites in the code. I get it. But for a lot of shops that is not the workflow.

I'm equally fluent in Photoshop and Illustrator / print and web design. I only ask because it drives me crazy when I get files from other web designers and they have been built out in Photoshop. It just seems very inefficient and for years I have been looking for a reasonable explanation.

  • You should not. There is no rule in the universe that dictate it. There are some aplications that makes life easier using PhotoIUseItForEverythingShop, but you can totally not use it at all.
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:02
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    You should use what works for you.
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:08
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    Realize that there was a time with neither Illustrator nor InDesign supported much web content.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:10
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    As others already said, you can use whatever tool works for you. The issue I have with Illustrator and InDesign is that they make it tempting to generate a multi-page PDF of all layouts at once for client review - and you have no idea of the viewing zoom clients will use to review your mockups. Which can make for interesting developments down the line, as in oss-usa.com/blog/…
    – Max Tokman
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:11
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    @plainclothes no, that's a designer that understand's the medium's view of the problem. Ignoring the actual medium is what results in a lesser product. Designing web sites in Illustrator is not web design. It's Illustrator design. By all means, sketch ideas in whatever tool you want. But remember they are sketches. They don't have all of the important nuances that you get when designing in the actual medium (responsiveness, animation, interaction design, etc.) Good web sites are designed and built using all the tools--not just one.
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 19:13

4 Answers 4


This has been asked several times and I will still say the same thing each time. The best place to develop websites is in the browser which is the environment it will live in. Photoshop and Illustrator have their merits but should, at best, be only used for mockup or wireframing to get a general idea.

If this is for a client that will also use the same assets for print I will try to stick completely in Illustrator and use the Logo or any items I create in SVG for web with a PNG fallback. You could theoretically build the site mockup in InDesign or Illustrator and export the CSS and adjust accordingly.

If you are trying to develop the entire site in Photoshop that is a waste of time since this is a responsive era. I hardly use Photoshop anymore and when I need a mockup I use Illustrator for its artboard feature and I can add it in a browser with CSS media queries and use the mockup as a background image and build through that if I needed or someone sent me some mockups.



For designing the elements of a web site, you should use whatever tool works for you. Photoshop is a common tool, but there's no requirement that you use it.

As for designing full layouts, I'd suggest you treat your tools as napkins. Whether photoshop or illustrator, it's just a napkin sketch and it may need to be changed as it gets put into HTML/CSS/JS.


The reason why many designers use Photoshop is because they feel comfortable using it. You should use whatever gets the job done faster (I prefer to do my mock ups in InDesign).

For many of us, mock ups are important because it allows us to experiment in a familiar environment. It's easier and faster to write the code once we know what is the end goal.

Also, clients feel better if they see something in paper right away instead of having to wait until the site is set up, compiled and implemented, before seeing anything on the screen.


I noticed that some designers urchase templates online and simply modify them! Or they use the .psd templates that come with some Wordpress themes.

For some designers it's also easier to modify the hue/saturation of some elements and test their color scheme with Photoshop.

They might also prefer to work with only one software for this and not having to import their graphics and images in a publishing software or Illustrator.

It's really a question of preference. In any case, they shouldn't send you a bunch of loose layers in a Photoshop file; they should isolate the ones you need, flatten the blending and effects (or rasterize it) and group their layers. Finally, you should have a nice flat JPG as a reference and code in CSS only the parts you need. You're not supposed to have to demystify their layer files indeed, sometimes it's a real puzzle!

Personally, I've always been asked to create templates with Photoshop and frankly I do it because the coder/dev asked for this. Given the choice, I wouldn't use Photoshop, I find it way longer to do complete layouts with this software. Maybe you can demand to have the files sent to you in a different way and you'll get them as you prefer them.

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