ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Web Development Project Roles

6/5/2008 11:19:50 AM

I've just read a 37signals article "Why we skip Photoshop". It argues for the idea of designing sites in HTML/CSS right away skipping the "static mockup" phase. This reminded me of a thought I get every time I see some products, articles, demonstrations, etc. aiming at separating presentation from business logic.

In a typical small size web development projects there are 3 main roles of (implementation) participants:

  1. Designer
  2. HTML/CSS coder
  3. Business logic coder

Now the 37signals article assumes that "Designer" and "HTML/CSS coder" are either one and the same person or at least inseparable pair. In my world (In small-to-medium web projects that I worked on during the last 10 years) I've seen projects where:

  • each role was performed by different person (or a group)
  • "HTML/CSS coder" and "Business logic coder" were the same person (or group)
  • all 3 roles were performed by a single person

But I have never worked on a project where "Designer" and "HTML/CSS coder" were combined into one role and business logic coder was someone else.

Am I living in a different world? Probably. Cause you can see this tendency in tools too. In Microsoft's demos you can often see a pattern where developer works in one tool - "Visual Studio", and graphic design/HTML/CSS/XAML is done in another (single) suite - "Expression Studio". From my perspective this leaves only 2 major roles - presentation specialist and business logic developer. I think this is wrong. I've seen many good graphic designers who had basic knowledge how web works but had no idea about HTML or at least didn't waste their time learning quirks in CSS implementation in different browsers.

Probably for large corporations this is not an issue but if you take a small company with 3 technical employees (designer, html coder and developer) you can't get separate graphics tools for designer and HTML coder. You end up buying 2 copies of Photoshop or Fireworks or Expression Studio or whatever when designer only needs creative tools and HTML coder needs technical tools for cutting parts of the design according to his implementation.

Why do I have to get a Photoshop behemoth only to be able to cut (without compromises) what my designer has done in it? I want ImageReady separated back into a standalone product. But there's probably something wrong with me cause this seems to be a global trend.

Am I old fashioned or just crazy? What is your process?

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