Photoshop is Not Dead

December 11th, 2012

by Sean Shaw

Recently, the web design and development community has been tossing around the idea that Photoshop is on its way out ( 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 ( – “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.

Filed under: Web Design | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »
  • Jasonwoodrich

    I have been seeing this discussion a lot around the web lately.  Maybe it is my “old school” way of thinking, but I very much enjoy the process of designing in Photoshop.  I love the creation/iteration process I have developed for myself in PS.  I tend to spawn ideas in the middle of a mock-up and can quickly save a copy and explore that new idea quite rapidly.

    Secondly, I tend to design more intricate designs and really like seeing web sites that have a high sense of design to them.  That is not to say I don’t appreciate a good minimalist design, but sometimes I am baffled at a site that has one image and three lines of text.  Again, maybe it is my “old school” way of looking at things as I have doing this in some form since 1997…..

    I think it comes down to what works for the individual and the situation.  If there will be many rounds of iteration, maybe the browser is best.  However, I find myself still doing the iterations in PS.  This also helps the people who cannot visualize what the final result may look like as well.

  • seanshaw

    I agree that it’s much more easy to be creative when you are in the environment of Photoshop. This was one of the main things that turns me off from completely getting rid of it. 

    For us, we utilize responsive design techniques, so it really helps to get the design into the code as quick as possible. This way you can work out the break points and see how the design flows. Also, one of the benefits of this is that if there is a slight color change, font change, etc., you can change one variable and it shows up everywhere you want it. Where in Photoshop you’d have to go back and change each layer. It can be much more time consuming. 

    That’s why I think there has to be some middle ground between the two.
    Thanks for the comment!