Going Hybrid: When Design and Code Meet in One Specialist

Jess McDowell | December 7, 2015

A question designers face is whether they need to be able to code their designs. In an era of ridiculously specialized roles, there’s a strong pull for both sides of the argument.

I’ve begun to incorporate front end development and responsive design best practices into my workflow, which allows me to bring ideas from concept to full development for smaller projects. It’s so empowering! For larger, complex projects, I can communicate more efficiently with interactive specialists for better and more profitable work.

If you’re trying to decide if a hybrid workflow is right for your team, here are some pros and cons:


  • Increases profitability and workflow efficiency — eliminates the middle man
  • Influences design decisions from the beginning of the project
  • Enables staying current with Web design trends and techniques
  • Allows for greater control over the work
  • Provides more marketable skillset
  • Gives an edge over the competition


  • Intensive time investment
  • Steep learning curve
  • Formal training can be expensive
  • Tough to stay current on trends and best practices in the developer community
  • May lead to a compromise in quality if used for the wrong projects

IS A HYBRID ROLE RIGHT FOR YOU? If you design for digital, it’s recommended that you understand hybrid principles. At the very least, you’ll learn the basics of coding to understand developers’ needs. You’ll learn vocabulary to accurately express your ideas. And you’ll probably become a better designer and ultimately create better work.

At some point, all designers have handed off beautiful creative only to see half of it reflected in the final HTML product. If designers have more influence in the project flow, end users will benefit from the unity of our decisions: better designs, better workflows and, ultimately, better work. It’s a win-win situation.

And if you’re a female creative thinking about becoming a hybrid, cheers to you! We need more of us.