This may seem like a trivial question, but I'm dying to know the answer from some professional web designers.

I have built a number of websites myself over the past 8 years, some of which have gone on to be very successful. However, I've always designed them in photoshop as a rough PNG, then just tried to recreate it myself from scratch (using frameworks such as Bootstrap, etc)

What I want to know is whether real industry web designers actually use software like Reflow, which does a lot of the programming? Or do they program the site themselves? How do they design and build the site?

I would love to have some better software for designing the site, but I feel when it comes to the programming...it should be done from scratch. Is this a wrong attitude? What is the workflow for proper, industry websites? (Such as Spotify.com, Facebook, Twitter). How do they design - and build - their sites?

(If I've posted this on the wrong StackExchange, please move)

closed as primarily opinion-based by Joshua Barron, JonW Apr 14 '14 at 14:30

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I'm putting this on hold as it's not really a question with a correct answer. Everyone does it differently (as shown in the few answers you've already had). You just use the product / application that a) your company tell you to use, and that b) you are able to use. – JonW Apr 14 '14 at 14:32
  • To answer the question, yes: Lots of professionally built web sites are built with really crappy tools that produce really crappy code/markup (see also: SharePoint) – DA01 Apr 14 '14 at 15:55

From my experience as a Web Designer, most people design in Photoshop or Illustrator. In a professional environment, designers and developers are almost always separate people. So the person who designs the site, is not the person who builds it. They're two completely different skill sets, and both designers and developers are experts in their own fields.

The people who would tend to use programs that generate code (such as Reflow), would often be designers who don't have access to a developer, e.g. people designing small sites, and building the site themselves, and for these scenarios, these programs can be useful.

But as for developing large, enterprise sites, they're usually done from scratch (sometimes using a front end framework like Bootstrap). Sites like Facebook would have huge development teams, probably thousands of people, all doing certain parts. Auto generated code may suffice for small websites, but developers do a lot more behind the scenes than you would think, so they won't be replaced my machines just yet ;)

That said, there are a lot of designers who are pretty savvy in front end coding, and every Web Designer should know at least some code, in order to really understand how the web works and the opportunities and limitations etc.


I have been designing and building websites for about 5 years now, and tend to avoid tools and frameworks that claim to make the job easier - not because I don't believe those claims, but because they are often not the right solutions for me personally.

Early in my first web design role, my employers tried to hook me up with software like Dreamweaver, and JavaScript-based navigation menu builders to help my learning process, but if anything, I found them to be nothing but a hindrance. I even used to avoid Bootstrap because from the outside, I thought its grid system seemed quite restrictive, but admittedly this was an ill-informed perception that I formed before actually trying it out (schoolboy error!); having tried it, I found it to be extremely flexible (no pun intended) and now use it for practically every responsive site that I build.

I agree with you that I prefer to do things from scratch, going from sketch, to Photoshop, to browser - but I have learned not to dismiss the idea of using new tools in the way that I used to. 'Real industry web designers', in my opinion, will use any tool that does what they need it to, if it does it well.

I hope this helps! :)


I've been a web designer for roughly a decade and while I tested out Adobe Edge Reflow and Adobe Muse, I don't use them professionally. I'm not ruling out using them for websites, though I don't see myself using them for web-based applications. Applications generally need to be edited in IDE like Eclipse, which means you want the cleanest code possible, and I'm not sure that WYSIWYGs produce code that's as clean as I'd write myself.

I design my wireframes in Illustrator and if I'm doing a graphic based mockup first, I'll design it in either Illustrator or Photoshop and then I'll code the layout to match. Sometimes I design right in the browser. I use Bootstrap for some projects and other times I'll write my CSS layout from scratch. Generally I prefer to design in a graphic program first because it's faster and easier for me, especially when I'm presenting a client with multiple layout options that may vary greatly.

I've had more projects lately that don't have graphic mockups done first. Instead we start with a basic wireframe and then go straight to coding the CSS for that and call the initial version the mockup.

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