In Chapter 3, I presented the case for a browser-based approach to web design. In this chapter, I’ll take the browser approach down a peg, but I don’t want to diminish its importance in a responsive workflow. The browser is still the centerpiece of what we’re doing. But we need to work Photoshop back in to the fold—and not just because we’re Photoshop fanboys and fangirls. If it didn’t make sense to include Photoshop, I wouldn’t waste your time advocating its importance in the responsive web design (RWD) workflow.
The good news is that Photoshop, more so than any other tool I can think of, fills an important role missing in a browser-only design process.
Photoshop Is the New Vinyl
Have you ever had someone send you a link to a YouTube video and, before you know it, you start going down a never-ending hole watching related video after related video? That happened to me recently, and it started with the popular show “How It’s Made.” My binge-watching led me to a fascinating piece on vinyl records. (If you just had to Google vinyl records, you’re probably not the only one.)
The history of vinyl records is arguably more interesting than their manufacturing. Many of us remember their popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Even when the cassette tape began to dominate music sales in the mid-1980s, records were still holding their own. It wasn’t until the compact disc (CD) became the preferred music medium in the 1990s that vinyl records really fell out of favor. In fact, CDs were so superior to records for most music consumers’ purposes that they pushed vinyl to the brink of extinction.
CDs offered a smaller, portable format that could fit significantly more music than records. They were even more durable, depending on how you stored them. It’s no shock that CDs were became more popular than vinyl. When the iPod ushered in the digital music revolution of the mid-2000s and began to marginalize disc media, you would assume it made vinyl go away altogether, right?
Wrong. An incredibly strange thing happened: In 2006, people started buying more records. Today, vinyl growth is steady, and while it’s by no means equal to digital in sales and mainstream consumer use, it remains relevant. Amazingly, market analysts have assigned no single concrete reason for vinyl’s uptick in popularity (see Figure 4.1).
Figure 4.1 Vinyl has withstood some major innovations in music media, staying relevant even to the current day. Can Photoshop do the same in the face of new apps such as Sketch and workflow alternatives such as designing in the browser?
So, who or what gets the credit for sustaining the life of the vinyl record? Two main audiences: audiophiles, who prefer vinyl’s sound quality and treasure their massive record collections, and disc jockeys (DJs). DJs have mastered the art of combining the digital and the analog, so to speak. Digital tracks play off a computer while the DJ spins a record on a turntable for scratching, looping, and adding a host of physical effects.
Curious, I sought after some rationale from a friend of mine who is a popular Boston-area DJ. Why does he prefer to use vinyl in his work? It’s the same thing we Photoshop users enjoy but sometimes have trouble putting words to: direct manipulation.