Photoshop to HTML to WordPress

February 24th, 2012 by

Why the Artist will defeat the Engineer in the 21st Century


There is an extremely close relationship between one of the world’s most popular graphic editing suites and the creation of websites on the World Wide Web.

If Photoshop just popped into your mind you would be right.  This highly versatile tool is arguably the mainstay of any web designer toolkit as he punches out new dummy designs that eventually become websites. But, lets take this a little bit further and examine the chart below which illustrates the explosive surge in a side-industry which focuses on converting PSD templates into HTML websites.

This is both a lesson in outsourcing and innovation, as it demonstrates the inevitable march towards automation that’s one of key drivers in lowering costs and speeding up turnaround times.   A Google search reveals over 87 million results for services, tips and tutorials relating to this segment, illustrating what a key role it ‘s playing in generating new websites.

Pakistan, India and the Philippines dominate the trifecta of nations accounting for most of the related ‘service’ activity in this area.   For as little as $99 a designer can leverage their services to spit out a HTML version of their website.  Most of the time they can expect the result to be XHTML complaint and conform to new HTML 5 standards. (Well, on this last point there is some controversy, which we discuss further below).


Of course, this may also become an opportunity for them to up sell you for additional SEO services and load speed optimization plans.

There are also more native options to Photoshop to consider including plugins such as PSD breaker that claim to convert any PSD layout into “clean W3C, standards compliant XHTML with full CSS support, in an instant.”

Here is a short video demonstrating their approach:

One wonders of course, if the developers in India and Pakistan are using similar tools as part of their service offering, or simply building their own versions which they choose to keep in-house!

This cottage industry of PSD slicers and HTML bakers, may be softening if you consider this blog entry from HTML Cut which observes a decrease in PSD-TO-HTML services listed on the website over a three year period.

Intriguingly, the author does not use Google Insights to compare benchmarks, although there does seem to be some correlation between the two data sets highlighted in this article.

“HTML5, CSS3, and technologies like responsive web design will gradually move from a hot marketing promise into a day-to-day practice,” predicted HTML Cuts.

Further, he concludes that HTML5 may be one underlying reason for limiting the growth of this industry, which is in affect recalibrating its skill set to accommodate new technical and conceptual challenges in this arena.

But, it’s not just PSD to HTML that is a target for automation. This is being superseded by other conversion services and plugins that accommodate WordPress, Joomla and other Content Management Systems.  A CMS is of course another sign of growing automation in website creation arena, as users become more sophisticated in their requirements, and no longer wish to manually update content or custom-build code that plugins can handle.

Take for instance the following graph from Google Insights, which reflects a similar leveling out of services in 2012 for PSD-to-WordPress, but also shows remarkable historical growth. Perhaps the key takeaway here is how competitive the both the UK and US are in this sector, something that may not have been immediately expected.

Over 83 million results come up for “PSD to WordPress” almost as popular as “PSD to HTML” and perhaps likely to overtake it considering WP’s rising popularity.

Guest Blogger: Jason Stevens from / Freelance web developer, tech writer and follower of cloud computing trends. Follow him on Twitter @_jason_stevens_

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