Thanks for writing this - I’m fascinated by the idea of designers who design in code, because I’ve never yet met one, much as I’d like to.
Your description does (understandably) seem very GDS-specific, and I wonder how this could work for designers in other types of organisation. For example, your designers have the benefits of an established set of design guidelines, a set of pre-defined HTML/CSS elements, and an environment in which taking the time to learn these skills is encouraged.
At the other extreme, a designer working in an agency will often find themselves designing new sites and services from scratch - so there are no design guidelines and no pre-defined elements. They will also usually have very tight deadlines and little time to stumble around with a completely new way of doing things. Which seems like a very different situation to designers at GDS.
Most of the designers I’ve worked with use Illustrator or Photoshop and, if they have any HTML/CSS/JS skills, they’re probably 10+ years out of date. Even if they want to change how they work it must be a huge struggle and time sink - like having to suddenly write everything in a foreign language.
None of which is to detract from what you’ve said, which is great. It’s just that I would love to know how designers outside GDS have managed this, although I expect that’s outside the scope of this blog.
One thing that might be within scope is something about this topic from the point of view of a developer - How have developers helped designers get up to speed with development? What about this process is easier or harder than the “old” way of interpreting PSDs? What kind of work is involved in making a designer’s (HTML) designs into production-ready code?
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