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PSDs and Their Role in Web Design

“What exactly is a PSD, anyway?”

This is a common question among individuals working with a web design service to create or update their website. PSDs represent one of those acronyms that roll of the tongue for those in the development trade, but can create confusion for the uninitiated.

Below, we address commonly asked questions about PSDs and the role they play in web design.

Q: What does PSD stand for?

A: PSD stands for “Photoshop Document” and refers to a design file generated in the image manipulating software.

Q: How do PSDs function Untitled design (37)

A: PSDs contain the materials a web designer or developer will eventually incorporate into a website. These flexible files support a wide variety of image modes, from Multichannel and CMYK to RGB and Bitmap, making them a popular option for developers. They also offer a multidimensional approach to design, including channels, transparency information, multi-level layers, and clipping paths, distinguishing them from formats that use “flat” images.

Users can edit each component of a PSD’s design separately without impacting other areas of the document. “Layer comps” allow developers to generate variations on the same designs. These documents are also convertible to JPG, PNG, and other types of images, allowing designers to export their designs for myriad other uses.

Q: Why can’t I open a PSD?

A: The easiest way to open a PSD is to use Adobe Photoshop. However, several software products provide limited compatibility with PSDs. These programs include Adobe Photoshop Elements, GIMP, Apple QuickTime, and Corel PaintShop Pro. While these programs allow users to open and view PSDs, they do not possess the full capabilities to read or edit them. Non-Photoshop programs might also not recognize advanced features a designer may have incorporated into a PSD.

Q: Why can’t I edit a PSD? 

A: Users that wish to edit PSDs must do so using Photoshop. The program includes all the necessary tools to view and edit Photoshop documents. Using the right software throughout the life of the document also ensures the widest possible accessibility among everyone involved with a project, including developers, designers, and the end user.

Q: How do developers use PSDs to create websites?

A: Developers create websites by “slicing” PSDs, then converting them into HTML code. With properly organized and “layered” PSDs, users can create attractive and highly functional sites that display various features (such as buttons and animations) and pages.

Although not everyone works with PSDs on a daily basis, understanding their basic structure and functionality can help ecommerce companies better understand what goes into the creation of their soon-to-be-successful websites.

What are your questions regarding PSDs and their functions in web design? Contact SteerPoint for help!