Redefining the Purpose of Photoshop for the Web

Designers like you and me take pride in designing using the quintessential designing tool – Adobe Photoshop – courtesy, which we owe to have learnt mastered the craft from. The best part about web designing with Photoshop is that no matter what version you are using, there is always a possibility that there is someone or the other who can outdo you even by implementing an earlier version.

Whoever, might be benefiting from Photoshop and swearing by its inimitable UI – be it the photographers, tattoo artists, fashion and accessory designers, etc. it has and will always hold a significant position in Web design history. Here the choice of the word ‘history’ is strategic; since we are about to analyze and redefine the purpose of Photoshop for the Web.

Everything that is great also has its share of shortcomings. Photoshop as one of the most valued design software from Adobe is loved for its common aptitude and superb UI, while being hated at the same time for its limitations. But what are the limitations of Photoshop that every ‘true’ Web designer would love to complain?



– Dealing with Frequent Crashes

Dealing with crashes have been one of the common experiences and major challenges of using Photoshop for the Web. It can be really jerky to tackle situations when you forget to save your work for a long time and your program hangs leaving you on the verge of losing all the hours of work. That really leaves you reconsider the purpose of using Photoshop.

Text rendering

Text rendering in many cases proves to be quite a problem with Photoshop. And it is not so just for exceptional fonts but it is seen happening for the most basic of fonts. Take for instance, the Helvetica font, after being rendered with Photoshop. You will find it end up like a real mess, even requiring some fiddling with a few settings. This can however be dealt with, considering we stick to achieve the target of comping that will demonstrate a precise representation of what a website will look like.

– Lack of interactivity

Ultimately, it is seen that the designing of static comps does not effectively interpret as to how elements are anticipated to behave through interaction. Although, it is possible many a times to discuss these points with the client when presenting comps, it is found to be less than ideal for complex interaction. Instead, limit your conversation to terms like “If you can imagine something like…” in an effort to indicate something as simple as a float state.

– Expense

Before making all the dawdle as to whether spend that meager $5 for an icon set, reevaluate before making the splurge on buying Photoshop (that could run to $700 USD). It is unarguably the most expensive piece of software in the common Web design tool set compared to that of wire framing tools, code editors and FTP clients; even though it is true that upgrades are helpful, and Creative Cloud is brilliantly incomparable.


– Expectations

Being one of the foremost designing tools one has laid their hands on while mastering the skill, the Photoshop environment undoubtedly makes every designer comfortable and empowered. It offers you complete design control, so that every pixel that you manipulate can be exported to your expectations. It is true that browsers aren’t as predicable when you developing for the Web; however, it is also a fact that no mode of fixes or hacks will be able to yield an exact match of your Photoshop comp.

– Presentation

It is mostly seen that in a bid to adhere and convey responsive Web design, presenting static comps of full pages is considered to be inappropriate. So, you are left with fewer options and possibly difficult ones too – either create numerous sizes of a single page, or attempt a verbal explanation as to how a design will shift. But, in the real sense the options seem to be impractical and to some extent inaccurate too, since there are myriad device sizes available for grab.

– Double the effort

As a designer, you must be well aware that a Photoshop comp is a visual representation of what a website or app would look like, but is not in any way a functional one. This calls for double the effort considering a comp being produced and then later reproduced through Web technology (HTML, CSS and JavaScript). Moreover, the detail of the production is also quite extensive — while static comps are characteristically pixel-perfect and meticulous, you will find that front-end development carries the same goal.


Many a times it leaves me baffled and confused as to whether Photoshop is been grossly misunderstood, or is it actually a battle between tools. Well, after all the Photoshop bashing, it is time to introspect where your tools prove inadequate so that you can acclimate in case you haven’t yet. Although you might come across innumerable unprofessional workarounds to the aforesaid limitations discussed, you may opt for the right combination of settings for arrive at a potential solution to the limitations.


This topic is indeed debatable. However, the most noteworthy response so far has been to design directly in the browser. If you are using CSS3, you’ll find that it provides many of the style elements (like rounded corners, drop shadows and gradients) that we had in Photoshop. You may also attempt to speed up your work flow using fabulous preprocessors such as LESS and Sass. In fact, these have become so popular that there has been a growing demand about trashing Photoshop altogether and exclusively use HTML and CSS, from start to the end.

However, let’s not go overboard with it and accept to acknowledge a key distinction, which many designers have been quite optimistic about. You need to understand that the browser is only the delivery vehicle of your designs, whereas image editors help serve the purpose of creative exploration. So, having the aptitude in code to reproduce what an image editor depicts may not necessarily be the most pertinent environment for it.


Amidst all the limitations and debate about re-defining the sole purpose of using Photoshop, it still remains and will continue to be the undisputed and most indispensable designing tool with a ‘purpose’ in your Web design work flows. While many web designers are trying to stay creative using only the browser, there is still a large section of Photoshop enthusiasts who are adhering to it and will continue to enhance them in ways that support the way you work. So, Photoshop isn’t obsolete yet; but the way you used it will definitely change.


Ellis – Digital Marketing Manager at VITEB. He has expertise in PPC, Digital Marketing, Online Reputation Management and Content Writing. Right now he is working with VITEB; leading web development company having expertise in website design and web application development.

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