We have a dispute regarding who owns which tasks when it comes to the CSS on our live site.

Our designer argues that he is not responsible to log-in to word press and modify the css or use ftp for any changes because that's not his job description while developer argues that since it is css, it belongs to designer and that he is to update the changes to the server and then compare and correct the output.

I'd like experienced people working in professional development environment to put a light on this scenario. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, or is there a separate forum for business development or project management specific questions?

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    Maybe it would be nice if they stop to behave like children and just get the job done. Does the designer know CSS at all or is he just using photoshop? Then the developer should be happy if he keeps his hands from that stuff, since he would mess it up anyway. Are you using any kind of version control and defined deployment process? There should be no login to the server and change stuff manually. Oct 17, 2012 at 12:22
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    Are you the boss? Are you responsible and accountable for the project? If so, delegate the task to the person who's best qualified to do the job. If not, insist that the person who does have this authority make a decision on it.
    – jfrankcarr
    Oct 17, 2012 at 13:11
  • It sounds like your designer doesn't know CSS. If he was good at web design he should have no problem with editing CSS. -- CSS alters how a web page is displayed: the design of the page. Therefor I would say that the designer should be able to make CSS changes per your request. Oct 18, 2012 at 6:34

4 Answers 4


In short, it is a team work. Needs a collaboration to achieve the results. As my previous company logo was saying, "Results matter..."

The developer and designer in your team need to learn how to work and make job done, rather shifting responsibilities from one to another.

  • Agreed, but generally whose plate should this fall into? So that the decision to delegate the task remains fair? Developer says designer should do it so if there's anything wrong with the css he could fix it on the spot, designer says he's pretty much unfamiliar with the wp-admin interface or filezilla. This is a very small team and we need to specify this task permanently on either one's job description..
    – Syed Absar
    Oct 17, 2012 at 13:39
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    CSS, look and feel changes primarily done by designer, functionality is done by developers.
    – Yusubov
    Oct 17, 2012 at 13:43
  • Good advice, but it does not answer the question.
    – Lord Tydus
    Oct 18, 2012 at 3:16

Generally, CSS modifications belong to the designer not the developer. So it would be the designer's responsibility to update the live site.

However, there are some exceptions to that rule.

  1. The designer may not have access to the live site. If so, then someone else is now responsible for promoting to production.
  2. Separation of duties would dictate that someone other than the designer promotes to production. This would imply that your team's developer wouldn't be promoting to production either. Or at least, not for pieces they wrote.

More importantly, what's the past precedent and what does everyone's boss say on the matter?


In our business, the designer is the architect and the developer is the carpenter. CSS is code so the developer writes it up.

However, some of our designers are very good at CSS and we let them write it up. Even then our developer oversees their work.

The problem you may have is that your developer is not design oriented and feels uncomfortable handling that and your designer is uncomfortable handling code. You may just have the wrong people for the job. Or you need a go-between person.


There are two separate issues. 1. Who modifies CSS? 2. Who deploys changes to production?

Of course it depends on how your team defines roles. But here is my take.

  1. CSS defines the looks of the web page. Looks are what UI designers deal with. I'd say this is clearly the role of the UI guy. The underlying issue may be the UI deisgner is using high level tools that automatically generate the CSS. He may not be familiar with CSS.

  2. The task of updating files in production (regardless of CSS or not) should not fall on the UI desginer. The UI guy should just make his changes in the dev environment, check into source control, and that's it. This should not be the responsibility of the developer either. Some companies have a dedicated role for deployment to handle this.

In small companies developers tend to be the "do everything" guy because they are the only people with general computer skills in multiple domains. Developers usually can make a good looking UI. They know how to set up and administer a website. They know how to model data in a database. And of course they can code. It's not uncommon for a developer to be a UI designer, DBA, System administrator, and coder all in one.

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