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Photoshop is Not Dead

by Sean Shaw

Recently, the web design and development community has been tossing around the idea that Photoshop is on its way out (http://bit.ly/JIiWJF). The theory is that the design process that used to be done in Photoshop can now be completed through development. While we can accomplish what we do in Photoshop through code, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should completely stop using it.

Removing Photoshop from the process is usually referred to as ‘designing in the browser.’ One benefit to designing in the browser is that you can immediately see the limitations that the browser places upon your design. Also, you tend to save time by combining elements of the design and development phases. These are definitely good aspects, and I think that they should be utilized to an extent.

However, I believe there are also drawbacks to moving the design process from Photoshop to the browser. The largest being that you can sometimes cripple the creative process. It is much more difficult to explore design elements options in the browser than it is in Photoshop. Photoshop is a much more creative environment where you are free to really explore what it is that you want to create. There may be a few people out there who don’t need that aspect anymore, but to me it is still a vital component.

I believe that there has to be a middle ground between Photoshop and the browser. I personally love this quote from Dan Mall (http://the-pastry-box-project.net/dan-mall/2012-september-12/) – “Let’s change the phrase ‘designing in the browser’ to ‘deciding in the browser.'” This allows you to utilize the creative freedoms of Photoshop while helping the designer make decisions based on the limitations of the browser.

This is certainly not a perfect solution, but it could be a decent middle ground for now. I believe the faster a design can move to the browser, the better the finished product will be. This can help facilitate a more collaborative process between the designer and developer as well as a better end product.