In recent months I have come across several non-connected people complaining about Photoshop in relations to designing website. My answer is always the same:
Photoshop is just a tool. If you rely on a single tool you are dependant on the creativity of the people who created this tool.
Using more tools means more than one choice; it means you are less reliant on the embedded creativity and it means the tools support your creativity and work for you.
Don’t get me wrong; Photoshop is my weapon of choice, I love Photoshop, but I use other tools where Photoshop do not immediately do what I have in mind and I have seen great work created by colleagues using a mix of tools. Here are some effective combos:
- Pen’n’Paper/Photoshop – Just can’t knock this oldie
- Photoshop/Fireworks– The added interactive features of Fireworks makes this a real interactive combo.
- Illustrator/InDesign – Often used by print designers turned digital designers. Good for linking creative elements, bad for pixels in my view, but I have seen reasonable results.
- Photoshop/Illustrator – This classic is often deployed by traditionally trained graphic designers (myself included).
- HTML/Fireworks – Often wielded by self-taught web designers to great effect.
- Fireworks/Photoshop/Axure – A real evolution that steps away from creative flat visuals and adds real interactive elements. Perfect for dynamic interfaces.
I have also seen some decent designs created by a specifically creative client in Powerpoint… it shouldn’t work, but it did for her and the final website didn’t look too far off her original scamps.
The tools within the tools
Using a broader selection of tools also goes for the tools within the tools. Using Photoshop as an example I have created a drop shadow on a basic square post-it note. I have done this exercise very quickly on purpose .
The post-it notes are identical, but the left one has a default Drop Shadow filter while the right one has a drop shadow created manually.
I won’t go into details how I created the manual shadow; It doesn’t matter since there are several ways to do it, but it took me around 3 minutes to do and I am happy to say I think it looks better than the standard Photoshop Drop Shadow filter.
That is not to say filters don’t have a purpose. In fact I used the Gaussian Blur filter in the process, but I didn’t rely solely on it. I used an array of tools to reach my vision of the drop shadow.
Lesson learned: Use as many tools as possible and use whatever works for you.