Does Pixel Perfect design exist?

If you’ve been involved in design or UX for a while, you’ll hear this – “Pixel Perfect Design.”

From web agencies to smart web clients, they strive to achieve the mystical phrase that has eluded every designer.

So what does Pixel Perfect mean?

Pixel perfect in terms of web development means coding a website to match the web designs pixel by pixel. In reality, this is achievable only for a fixed set of screen resolutions, so the general meaning of the term is “web development that follows the web designer’s intent perfectly”.

“Pixel perfect” has been widely criticized as a concept because it sets an impossible standard for responsive development. What looks just like the designs on one screen or device may look different on another. But it’s still a useful term to express that you expect a perfect result from your web developer, so it’s better to explore the implications of it than to abandon it.

Simply put: Pixel perfect is the process where you take every element into consideration, down to individual pixels.

Some web designers and agencies pride themselves in never having a pixel off. They make sure the typography is correct everywhere in the designs, and each element is sized and placed consistently across the site. However, far from every professional web designer checks their work with that rigor. Why? It’s too time-consuming, and often not even necessary to get a perfect result.

If developers were asked to literally follow the web designs with pixel perfect development, they would copy all the mistakes made by the designers through the use of unique CSS classes. For example, to set a margin to 22px instead of the 20px used across the rest of the web designs.

Before asking for pixel perfect web development, ask yourself if it’s worth the effort and if you have taken the right measures to prepare for it.

You’ll want the website to look great, but if you have a few pixels off here and there I’m sure only fellow designers will notice. Pixel perfect standards will increase the time needed for both design and development.

To give the developer a good chance of succeeding, designers can prepare web designs that reuse symbols and components across the site with tools that allow developers to copy-paste the CSS styles.

Even with all the measures taken, it’s possible that some discussions are needed to decide on the direction for non-obvious responsive behavior. And even with the best developer and designer on the project team, thorough quality assurance will help guarantee that nothing important was overlooked.

“Close to pixel perfect web development” is our default as a more affordable option than pixel perfect, but we offer additional precision for those who prefer.

What are your standards? Send us a note to share your thoughts on the importance of pixel perfect development and how you achieve it.