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March 14, 2014
Time For Web Designers To Get SASSy
 
I don’t mean Saas (software as a service) I mean SASS (Sentatically Awesome Style Sheets) If you are holding out clinging to your photoshop or fireworks comps for web design your time is coming to a close. If you are serious about designing for the web it’s time to get SASSy.
 
What is SASS you ask? An amazing designer and co-founder of Dribbble describes it well here(http://alistapart.com/article/why-sass) and in his book (http://www.abookapart.com/products/sass-for-web-designers) more importantly why should you use it? I have been a web designer for 8 years I moved over to web design from print because I saw the writing was NOT on the wall but on the screen so that’s where I went, head first in the land of pixels. My first couple years at a design agency I would spin up beautiful websites in photoshop and then proceed to spec them out in painstaking detail to hand off to a “real” developer to code into HTML and CSS. That worked for awhile.
 
Soon I started dabbling in CSS and HTML to get working prototypes and styles that were code ready. I am not going to lie it was a steep learning curve when I got started but after a few projects it actually started to become more efficient than comps. As I left the known world of design specs and pixel pushing I found that I was completing designs more than twice as fast diving into the code myself.
 
SASS structures allow for multiple levels of abstraction with mixins, variables, and extends you can build out a very powerful, reusable CSS library. Above all that I have found that this is the “secret sauce” for getting my design nit picks into productions code. Previously I would spend exponential energy specing my static design comp with notes and details to the developer but everytime to my dismay details were overlooked. Five iterations later developers would get it close enough as they said and the page went live. 5px too much on the margins, fonts did not match, colors were close but variance would always show up page by page time after time.
 
Designers getting closer to the code is the best way to battle the disparity between what shows up on screen for your customers and what your intended design specifies.
 
Some last thoughts. Would you say that you receive more requests for digital and online design work than you did 5 years ago? Well the same thing is starting to happen with designers that cannot code. Every recruiter and hiring manager I have talked to say that designers who know code is a rare gift that puts you at the very top of the resume stack for top innovative companies. If working for “the man” is not your thing, that’s fine, imagine how valuable your services would be if you did not have to outsource or partner with a firm to get your code complete? It is the way of the future. How do I know? Sit down with any recently graduated design school student see what they say…
 
More SASSy resources to kick start your journey into this brave new world:
 
Need a pre-proccesor to render SASS into CSS: http://compass-style.org/
 
Styleguides in SASS: http://css-tricks.com/sass-style-guide/
 
Get your feet wet: http://learn.shayhowe.com/
 
Reactions? Opinions? Write a comment below.
 

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Mike DeSart is a Visual/UX Designer at SurveyMonkey.com and general DesignNerd. Connect with him on Twitter @mikedesart.
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