Nick Bramwell’s Blog

Designing in the browser versus a graphics editor

As someone who comes from a Computer Science rather than a Graphic design background, I was never completely happy using a graphics editor (Fireworks) to design Web sites.

When I first read an article by Andy Clarke (@Malarkey) about designing in the browser I thought it was a fantastic idea, and never looked back.

Why I like designing in the browser


There are 2 key things that make designing in the browser work so well for me.

The first is that I’m much more at home writing CSS than I am with a graphics editor. This means I can get things from my head to the screen much more effectively.

The second is that showing clients a preview in a real Web page instead of an image gives them a much better idea of the final design. Especially as they then see how it will look in their browser. That means much less questions about why they don’t see some of the progressive enhancements because they are using an old version of Internet Explorer. Of course there is nothing to stop you waiting until you’ve created a html version before showing it to clients, but that does add an extra step.

Of course designing in the browser has it’s downsides and Sarah Parmenter (@sazzy) recently blogged “I can’t design in the browser“ on why it doesn’t work well for her.

Back to Fireworks


That brings me back to this morning. I’ve been looking at a new site design for the last few days and really not getting very far, I just couldn’t get the design right (or feel very inspired about it).

So I opened up Fireworks and pretty quickly made some good progress. I hesitate to say I nailed it until I show it to the client, but it’s certainly broken the creative block.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other


I think what I’ve learnt today is that like so many things there isn’t 1 true way. Next time you get a creative block why not try switching from your graphics editor to designing in the browser (or the other way around). It might not solve the problem but it might just help you get past the creative block (even if you quickly end up back in your preferred workflow).

I also wanted to add that I never go straight to my HTML editor (or Fireworks), my first design ideas always start on paper with either felt tip pens or a pencil.

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