It’s hard for me to understand how someone can design for interactions in a static environment. Let me explain.
On a project at my current job I’m working with a client who is also a designer. I’ve had to take their Photoshop documents (>150mb PSD file, ouch), make them “pixel perfect” (not my term), and design some additional pages they have not (it’s an eCommerce site).
Typically, I would sketch and then move to HTML/CSS. But, I couldn’t do that with this client because they already had some Photoshop files and that’s what they wanted back. To start, I thought about how limiting Photoshop is. I’ve read about people designing for the web in Illustrator, and thought about that, but decided against it. I decided against AI because I wanted to learn Fireworks, and thought this would be a perfect time. I could still provide the designer with PSD files (FW allows for PSD exports of each page), and still provide developers with enough of a prototype that, hopefully, between the FW HTML output and my notes, they could understand the flows. I’m still not happy with this route because I can’t customize things like I would if I was using some jQuery script.
While doing this, I also started work for another project in Axure. I had never used Axure before, but the project was relaxed enough that I didn’t have to worry about a learning curve and how much of my time would be eaten up by learning something new. After a couple YouTube videos it was smooth sailing. The interactions were easy enough to pick up on and I could add notes inside the prototype to assure the dev understood the more complex pieces.
I couldn’t imagine designing in a static environment and handing these files off to a developer for them to implement on their own. There would end up being so much back and forth like, “Ok, is this menu supposed to slide down on hover or fade in? If it’s fading in and out how long should it take? What about this image slider? What type of transition should I [the dev] be using - fade, slide, cut, etc?” I would be very frustrated as a developer, because these pieces are important, and need to be designed.
Many designers will say they need Photoshop to create their graphics and buttons… and that’s fine. Go ahead, use Photoshop for things that are static. However, when you’re designing for the web, understand this is a place full of interactions, and that’s what you need to be designing for.