Do Web Developers Need To Know Photoshop?

If you were a web developer back in the day, you would create web pages out of HTML and then insert images if need be on a site, and that was it. Web development has, and the job of a web developer has diversified in so many ways that there are separate classifications in terms of their specialty and what they do. In fact, some of them need graphical expertise. 

Front-end web developers that deal with the design and the interface of a website will need to know and understand photoshop on a professional level. These developers are responsible for making a website clean, neat, attractive, and engaging. Photoshop allows them to achieve this goal through various situations of image and video manipulation or creation. 

This article will cover what a web developer’s job is, and we will classify them all and briefly go over them. We will then look at Adobe Photoshop and what exactly it is and what it can do. Then we’ll look at what kind of web developer needs to know photoshop and explain it through a relatable example for a clear understanding. 

Web developer and photoshop overview

To understand if a web developer needs photoshop to develop a website correctly, we need to understand what a web developer’s job is on a fundamental level. Then we need to understand what photoshop (Adobe Photoshop) is in terms of an application, what It¿ can do, and what features and functions it has. By understanding these two aspects, we can then answer the question do web developers need to know photoshop.

working in photoshop
Knowing Photoshop is definitely beneficial for a front-end developer, although not mandatory. If you are given all the designs by a designer, then there is not much of a need for you to do anything in Photoshop as a Web developer.

What does a web developer do?

A web developer’s job is typically to design, create, code, and maintain a website or otherwise web-based applications. This is the tip of the iceberg, and we will need to look a little deeper into what exactly “design” and “create” mean.

We can break web developers down into two categories: back-end web developers and front end web developers

Back-end web developers

These web developers typically on specific software, databases (used to store the site information), and coding (used to create the actual site). This means that these developers are responsible for the website storing and sending information correctly and making sure that the website runs perfectly behind the scenes from what you see. 

Back-end developers will typically have knowledge of several coding languages such as HTML, XML, SQL, PHP, or Javascript. Furthermore, back-end developers can be divided into three categories; those that deal with databases, those that handle client-side scripting (code that executes in a browser determining what you see), lastly, those that handle client-side scripting (code that executes on the webserver behind the scenes).

As you can see that for the most part, no graphical knowledge of design is needed for the jobs that lay with a back-end developer. This is important to note because when we understand what it is that Photoshop allows us to do, we will be able to conclude that back-end developers do not have to know photoshop. 

Front-end web developers 

These developers will usually work on the design and interface part of the website. This means that they are crucial in making the website look good, user friendly, and engaging. There is some form of coding in the front-end as well, such as CSS; however, this language is used for visual manipulation of a website. 

Without going into too much detail, front-end developers will need to be able to manipulate visual aspects of a website, including layout, pictures, videos, and any other form of media, making sure that it all looks good works correctly. 

Understanding this and if you have any knowledge of Photoshop, you might suspect that maybe a front-end developer will require Photoshop knowledge as part of their job description. Let’s look at Photoshop to see what it does to either confirm or refute if a developer will require knowledge of it. 

What is Adobe Photoshop, and what does it do?

In its basic form, Photoshop is a piece of software application made by the company Adobe that is used for image editing and photo retouching. This program allows the user the ability to create, enhance, and edit pretty much any form of a digital image such as artworks, illustrations, photos, or images. 

It is the most widely used application around the world for these purposes and is used by many professionals in various fields. Some examples of professionals who use photoshop are graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, creative professionals, and web developers

As you can see, web developers do indeed use Photoshop and thus do require knowledge of how the application works. We will discuss this in detail below, however, do take note that the level at which a web developer knows photoshop may not be the same as a graphic designer or creative professional.

Useful Article: What is a Creative Developer?

Furthermore, now exactly knowing what photoshop is, we can conclude that in a typical situation, it would be the front-end web developer that uses this application, not the back-end developer.

Photoshop is an application that runs deep with rich functionality and features, and there are many various aspects and diverse avenues you can take to learning the application. Let’s look at what a web developer would use Photoshop for to get a clear understanding of why they would need to know it. 

How do web developers use Photoshop?

We said that it is the job of the front-end developer to know how to use photoshop, and the reason for this is because we also now understand that they are responsible for making the front end (what the user sees when they look at a website in a browser) look appealing, and user friendly in accordance to what the client and the end-user would like. 

For example, let us say that there is a photography website that a developer has to build, and the aim of the client is to allow users to view their portfolio and have their website look neat, clean, and engaging. 

As a photographer, images are typically captured in very high resolution, even to the point past 4k. Furthermore, the file formats for various cameras are different. The web developer could use Photoshop to open any camera file format and downscale the images (making them smaller in memory size) so that they would load fast on a website. 

Remember that large images take up a lot of storage, and websites need images to be small (typically a couple of kilobytes) in order to load fast. Moreover, if the photographer has different scaled images at various aspect ratios and wanted them all the same, so they look neat and clean on the site, the web developer would be able to do this using Photoshop. 

Do take note that this is just one example that we are giving you here and that there are many more situations that will arise where a front-end developer will need the knowledge and expertise of understanding how to use Photoshop. 

Video: Should you know Photoshop as a developer?


We discovered that web developers actually do need to know how to use Photoshop. However, you do get various types of web developers, as we found out. There are front-end developers and back-end developers. 

Back-end developers deal mainly with the behind-the-scenes code, storage, and functionality of a website, while the front-end developer deals with aesthetics (design) and interface. 

Due to the fact that Adobe Photoshop is used primarily for image and video editing and image creating, a front-end web developer would use Photoshop in order to manipulate any digital media such as images, video, illustrations that they would need in order to create websites that are clean, neat, attractive and engaging. 

The last thing that you should note is that sometimes a web developer can do all these jobs. This is not common because companies will usually divide all these tasks amongst various developers, and there will most likely be a team of developers. 

However, a developer capable of doing both front and back-end development is known as a Full Stack Developer.