Sarah Parmenter: "I can’t design in the browser"

In a post on her blog, award-winning designer Sarah Parmenter has said that she can't design in the browser. "It's a guilty secret I've been harbouring for about a year, I can't design directly into the browser," she revealed, stating that her creative brain switches at the point she opens her HTML/CSS editor, and "starts thinking in terms of structure and how to achieve the look of my design using as much native CSS as possible". Without the design to follow, her process breaks down, and designs end up suffering, "looking boxy, bland and uninspiring".

We asked Parmenter why she considered her post a guilty secret, and she told us: "There are so many blogs and tweets about how backwards designing in Photoshop/graphics editors is nowadays, in relation to responsive design. The only feasible alternative is to design directly in the browser, side-swiping static comps that won't show every breakpoint. There's always been talk about how clients signing off static imagery of a website is a bad thing, and I can completely see why." She added that only a hybrid method between the two will truly work, and finding that holy grail is proving difficult – ground we've covered before in .net, such as in The perfect web design app… and why it doesn't exist.

On current software and where it fails, Parmenter said that much of it clearly isn't built solely for user interface designers or for a quick iterative process, but she'd defend Photoshop: "It's a great tool, but it needs serious tweaks to make it less of a hack for a UI designer and more integrated into our process." However, Parmenter doesn't want software that would output code – "Some things should never be automated, and that's one of them" – and is instead hoping Photoshop will borrow some tricks from publishing software: "I'd love a global Photoshop stylesheet type of panel that would allow for quick global changes across multiple layers, the same as InDesign currently has. Photoshop's halfway there with Smart Objects but that still seems a clumsy way of doing minute tasks."

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