Why UX Designers need to learn code……or not

This debate is been around for a few years and there is no sign it will end anytime soon.

Things are moving crazy fast in the tech world and getting a job especially in the front-end industry is more confusing than ever.

Why?

Because the same job titles have different requirements for different companies and there is no exact checklist of skills and technologies you should have for a specific role.

I hope this article will help you understand whether a UX Designer should know how to code or not.

Do we actually need a UX Designer?

The UX Design role as we know it today hasn’t been around for too long…how come we survived without that before? All we needed was either a good Graphic Designer to create some nice skeuomorphic elements or a Web Designer which does both design and code.

The answer to this is easy. Smartphones did not exist, nobody cared about responsive design and competition between apps/websites wasn’t as big as it is today. For example, today we have social media networks such as: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat who are trying to connect people and the most important thing that keep users using them is the User Experience.

The field of User Experience began to take shape to address how research, testing and design thinking can be employed to make products that are better, faster and cheaper.

Ok…so should a UX Designer know code?

I think the question should not be whether a UX Designer should know code or not but how much code should know.

There are 4 types of UX Designers:
– Feels guilty about not knowing code.
– High-level understanding.
– Dabbles in code.
– Learning code seriously.

Jumping from first to third type is easier than you might expect and here are some benefits for doing that:
– Communicating with developers will be a lot easier.
– Will help you get a job much faster.
– Rapidly prototype ideas instead of relying on a developer to bring your ideas to fruition
– You can avoid creating something that would not be possible to implement in code.

In my opinion, if you want to understand what kind of impact your design has on your front-end (and back-end) teams, you absolutely need to be an intermediate practitioner in HTML, CSS and Javascript. The same applies to developers who should hook-on early in the design process to guide and support the UX and visual team.

What if I don’t want to learn code?

I totally understand and I’m not suggesting that all designers should become developers. Without a doubt, a person can become a successful UI/UX designer not knowing programming and development; however, this kind of knowledge can be supportive if used wisely.

 

What are your thoughts? How much coding do you think UX Designers should be able to do?

Andy

Front-end Engineer & Designer based in Dublin currently working @IBM.
I write about: Javascript, HTML, CSS, React JS, React Native and UI/UX Design.

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