Last week I attended the Artifact Conference. It was my first design
conference, and I was impressed. The talk lineup was amazing and speakers
consistently delivered. The talk that stuck in my head (and not only because
it was the last talk I attended) was Dan Rose’sPhotoshop’s New Groove.
The talk was about using Photoshop while designing for the web. It was the
counter balance to all of the random snarky comments on Twitter and so forth
about Photoshop and how it should die in a fire (I’m paraphrasing, but just
barely) and how you’re not a real web designer if you use Photoshop and so on
and so forth. It was a great talk.
Dan spent a lot of time talking about using the tools that work for you.
Dan Mall had a great line in his talk on Monday about fighting your tools
as a way to kill creativity. I think he’s 100% right. Find the tools that
work for you and use the hell out of them.
HTML and CSS aren’t the tools of web design, they’re the raw materials.
The difference between tools and materials means the world. It’s like a chef
who doesn’t cook their new recipes because they know how the various
ingredients are supposed to work together. A huge part of culinary school is
learning how various ingredients interact with each other to produce different
effects. It borders on a chemistry degree. The training doesn’t stop with the
chemical reactions, though.
A chef wouldn’t produce a new dish by only thinking about the interaction of
certain ingredients and putting together something she thinks would work well,
she actually makes it. The designer who is creating for the web who doesn’t
move to HTML and CSS with their design is like the chef who relies on the cooks
to know exactly what to do. Until you get your hands dirty with code, you’re
simply brainstorming ideas.
It’s taken me a long time to actually be able to articulate this. It wasn’t
until I heard Dans refer to HTML and CSS as tools that it clicked: we’re
looking at the world differently (shocking! I know!!). Hearing designers at
Artifact talk about HTML and CSS as tools akin to Photoshop is what gave me the
proper lens realize where the disconnect was.