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I'm wondering if the CSS creation is supposed to be the job of the designer or the programmer.

I'm not talking here about really complex CSS layout, I'm referring more to skinning.

So is this supposed to be the responsibility of one or another?


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closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Bart van Ingen Schenau, Kilian Foth, Dynamic, MichaelT Mar 24 '14 at 21:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It will totally depend on the nature of the arrangement with the colleague or employer or client. I don't think there is a general rule here. Both sides have good arguments. –  Pekka 웃 Feb 24 '11 at 16:45
It's more the realm of the designer –  OMG Ponies Feb 24 '11 at 16:45
Wow, off-topic and subjective and argumentative...does your workplace not have some kind of policy for this sort of thing? What's the point of the question? –  David Thomas Feb 24 '11 at 16:46
What does your contract say? –  David Gillen Feb 24 '11 at 16:46
This is unanswerable. How about, "What are some pros and cons of having the developer or the designer write CSS? How can this responsibility be shared?" –  Alex Feinman Feb 24 '11 at 16:59

11 Answers 11

It depends.

Is the designer an HTML/CSS front-end developer or strictly a graphic designer?

Big difference.

I've known brilliant graphic web layout designers that couldn't code an html page for the life of them. It wasn't their job/focus.

I've had it go the other way too. It just depends on the skill set of your team.

+1 Graphic designer != Web designer –  Michael Feb 24 '11 at 16:52
How about UX designer? –  sorin Feb 24 '11 at 20:55
@Sorin Sbarnea: UX designer, definitely. –  Steve Evers Feb 24 '11 at 20:57
@sorin A UX designer could be a graphic design, or a web designer, or neither, or both. –  Mike Mar 24 '14 at 13:00

The UI developer, no one else!

Who is the UI developer? Well, the best case scenario is someone hired for this purpose. But, it also may be the programmer or the designer. Let me explain...

CSS is deceptive because it's actually very tricky to get the fine details right, but it's also seems so simple...

I'm almost there, just going to add 5px padding... and now it's completely broken.

I've known many designers who were absolute experts at CSS, and I've known programmers who knew it inside and out. I've known designers and programmers who thought they knew what they were doing but didn't really have the first clue about correct CSS.

The solution is, you need a designated UI Developer, and that person needs to actually know and understand CSS. This is probably more likely to be someone with other front-end skills, including design. To get CSS right, you've got to have an eye for visual detail, and most programmers just don't have that (they just don't like the whole idea — just look at the number of upvotes on this answer).


I think it's more the job of the designer...because too be honest most programmers that don't dabble much in web design usually aren't the best "stylists". Im sure there are some that are great, but alot of people (including myself) that dont mess with much UI/Web-Design stuff have a hard time creating something that looks good.


It depends on the contract for your job. Some say programmers, some say the designer. Personally at my job, I am the programmer, I have to do CSS if its needed. The designer is proficient in ADOBE and any other design products. I dont even want to get into that world, so I grin and bare it and do the CSS.


I've had it both ways.

At my last job, I had a dedicated designer for my web-apps. We provided CSS classes for him and he skinned it how he wanted. He was very good at taking what we had done and turning it into something that looked awesome.

At my current job, the designer does the mock-ups before hand and those are what gets approved by the client. Once the approval is done we use those mock-ups to build our screens. The design comes from him, but the implementation and skinning comes from us.

So I'm going to have to say it depends on your work experiment. I think it can't hurt for the designer to know CSS and know how to layout your site. I've had more than a few discussions with the designer at my current job trying to figure out a compromise to one of his design choices as it's just not feasible to do in the amount of time given.


CSS is not "code". It's not a programming language. It's a declarative style-sheet language. It has no if-then-else-while-endif-until-for-case structures.

I do believe CSS should be the turf of designers. After all, most of the measure units and layout concepts used in CSS are things that fall in the knowledge area of graphics designers rather than general purpose programmers.

CSS is not only about web, it's are about print also, a field clearly in the knowledge domain of graphic designers.

Programmers tend to know a bit about everything and, to be able to make programms, they learn or get to understand just enough of the knowledge domain of the application they are coding in order to communicate with the client. But that doesn't make them experts on the area. The same case I think applies to CSS: many programmers have a good knowledge of CSS but are not experts in all concepts that are more the craft of people expert in printing-layout, media-layout, type-setting, color-management and desktop publishing.

In conclusion: programmer are more involved in CSS than they should and graphic designers are less involved than they should.

By the way, web-design is just an area of graphics design, which as a discipline comprises desktop publishing, printing, media-layout etc. Graphics designers have allways leveraged technologies available at the time. CSS is just one of those technologies which, by the way, requires no programming knowledge.


Where I work, the designer creates layered photoshop files of the design, which then a programmer will work with to create a finished XHTML/CSS layout.


A good designer should be able to write the CSS better than the programmer. I think it's wrong to assume the designer's role is just to create a Photoshop mockup and hand it to developers to implement. To make this work though, the programmers must also understand how to correctly layout their HTML, class elements appropriately, etc., so that the site can simply be skinned with CSS for both layout and visual elements.


CSS should be written by the designer (at most css is a declaritive language, there's no logic to write). In my experience, developers end up writing it though.


At the minimum the person designing the website should have an awareness of web technology and what you can and can't feasibly do in CSS. Otherwise you end up with rounded corners, shadows, transparencies and gradients everywhere that could potentially significantly impact the rendering speed of the website.


CSS should be written by designers because they are the ones that are responsible for the design of a webpage wich makes sense you want your website to look good. That doesn't mean the developers shouldn't know CSS.

I myself was asked more than once to modify CSS code even if that was done by the designer; you have to at least understand the code at an intermediate level to be capable to know what the designer wanted to do with that particular piece of code.


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