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“If I were to begin designing them in the browser, it would probably end up like just that.”

I’ve heard a lot of arguments like this, and I think they are just weak sauce.

If you are a good designer, with a great grasp of form, typography, color, hierarchy and proportion… etc, you should be able to use whatever tool is given to you and create a great solution.

It’s silly assumption to say that your designs would be less creative, because that would be declaring that without photoshop, you are an uncreative designer.

I think many people here are confusing decoration with design. If you read in Meagan’s introduction, she quotes Zeldman, who says:

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”

It’s a very insightful quote, because by starting a design in Photoshop, you are making two assumptions:

One, that your design is independent of content. Because no markup has been made, designing in photoshop will force you to make a lot of guesses about hierarchy, behavior and acceptable length of containers, etc.

Two, You are assuming that every browser will render exactly as you have designed. Many commenters have discussed this ad-nauseum.

The argument is not about deciding creative direction using one tool or the next, because many people have made great suggestions about white-boards, pencil & paper, Fireworks and so on.

The argument, is presenting a mockup for approval to a client, is best done in the medium which sets up the most realistic expectations. That’s the browser. Hands down.

People have made the same arguments about creativity using frameworks or a grid system. Frameworks, grids, and CSS/HTML are by no means limits on your creativity, they only guidelines on execution. Using the same argument, you could say that the screen resolution limits your creativity, or the fact that browsers are 2 dimensional planes limit your creativity.

People have made the same weak arguments in the print design world, like: “I can’t use an offset press, that’s going to limit my creativity”, “I can’t use a full bleed, that limits my creativity”, “We cant’ afford gold foil, that limits creativity.”

These are executional limitations.

Great designers can take anything they’re given, work with the content, and context they are given, and create beautifully executed solutions.

The only thing limiting creativity, is the designer alone.

(Meagan, thank you for the great article.)