How much coding do you actually do?


#1

We talk a lot about the fact that UXers shouldn’t need to code (and in an ideal world they wouldn’t) but the reality is that many employers these days list beginner-intermediate front-end programming as a pre-requisite.

How much coding do you do in your job? Is it a fundamental part of your role?


#2

I’m lucky that I don’t have to code, but I still like to get the foundations laid out where I can to help the devs get started (especially for mocking up more complex interaction/animation ideas).
I have found that they appreciate that you made the effort, so when you do come up with something outlandish, they’re more likely to try and make it work - rather than giving you a flat out "cant be done…"
So. Not fundamental but “politically” useful :slight_smile:


#3

I don’t think it’s essential but I think it is powerful. When a prospective employer asks me how comfortable I am with front end code I tell them honestly, “I’ve spent a number of years writing HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript code but I’m not as good as somebody who’s passionate about writing that code and becoming a developer. My passions lay with architecting the experience and testing my assumptions with real end users.” They usually appreciate my honesty and passion.

Ryan


#4

When I first started my current job I was told I would be required to learn HTML, CSS and Javascript so that I could do some front-end coding. Upon starting I came to realise that they were creating html interactive prototypes, however these were being handed over to devs, pulled apart and re-written. I suggested some prototyping software (Axure) and this became our standard. I still do some html coding to help out the devs if they are busy and I am quiet, and because we use Bootstrap I code check the front-end to make sure all the correct bootstrap classes have been used but I do very little coding any more.
I think working in UI it is worth knowing HTML and CSS, this way you are less likely to get ‘that can’t be done’ and if you do get that response you can argue it with a well reasoned argument!


#5

None in my role as a design researcher. I understand HTML, CSS and ARIA as I need that for my accessibility work, but as a design researcher, I get to work in multidisciplinary teams where the front end devs handle the prototyping and development.


#6

Although I am not in the field yet, I studied Web Development before I found my love for UX. I even did a light boot camp for it.

Going into UX I have HTML, CSS, RWD, some JS, and jQuery under my belt. I’m hoping this helps me as a entry level candidate into the field when i start looking :wink:


#7

From a purist perspective, a “UX Designer” is not required to code, but unfortunately, real world requirements do not favour the purist perspective. So rather than trying to draw the distinct lines, we would be much better off expecting that while there are certain boundaries, there are no distinct lines. In the end, the more capable you are, the more competitive you will be.


#8

This. Well said.


#9

Pretty fundamental for me but then my job has ended up being more UI than UX and I’m waiting on a major delay of BE devs to start buiding what I am designing.


#10

None.

This is probably because I work in Voice UX, where coding is very specific and can be very complex. UX itself is a full-time job and for prototyping, we have an internal tool.

That being said, recently I’ve been doing a lot of Alexa skills development and I tend to use Node.JS but this outside work.


#11

It’s an interesting question, if for no other reason than that the definition of “code” is surprisingly unclear. In some cases it’s the hard-core stuff - languages like C, perl, python; in other cases, it’s the Javas and their relatives - java, javascript, etc – which are a long step down the coding ladder, and then there’s the stuff that I don’t even consider code - HTML & CSS - the first is markup and the second is layout and when I got started in computing you couldn’t do word processing at all without similar methods. But when I’m talking to people who want me to “code” I often find that they mean those two skills. sigh.

In an ideal world, UX practitioners would never be expected to code. We are not front end developers. But in 20 years in this field, I’ve never seen as job in UX that did not either need a visual designer or a coder in the same body.

So, I went into independent consulting and I just don’t do that. I do make sure that I can understand and be understood by coders (and designers and…) and that I know when “can’t” means “really hard” etc. other than that…I just don’t.


#12

I get the feeling (and I could be very wrong) that in the current climate the most common career trajectory is to start off as a unicorn/front-ender/UXer until you have the clout within an organisation to specialise or the experience to go out on your own.

I think that needs to change and probably is, but slowly.


#13

This is pretty much it, for me at least. I’m in a Unicorn role at the moment, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get out on my own within a few years.

What I could really use is some advice on starting your own agency, and the groundwork that needs to be laid before you step out on your own. I’m really unsure of how to lay the groundwork for a successful agency.


Advice on starting my own agency
#14

Hmmmm. Good topic. I’ll start a new thread and see what we can dig up for you.


#15

Indeed. I required a class of Masters students in instructional design to learn Markdown, and several of them seemed to be awed by their new abilities to “code.”


#16

Completely agree, and I don’t have a personal definition, but I’m not sure that it should matter.
What’s the downside to front end devs referring to what they write as code?


#17

Well, what are they doing? HTML/CSS or Node.js or java? all of the above plus a little C? This is the reason it’s unclear, we can’t tell what they problem is if we don’t have a definition.


#18

I guess the flip side of that is that if I was a full stack dev, you still wouldn’t know what I was proficient in, but I’d definitely know how to ‘code’.

What I’m saying is that letting people call their markup languages ‘code’ doesn’t matter on a high level, provided they are clear about what they do and don’t know in an interview.

(I’m playing devil’s advocate here, I’m not intending to be provocative. :slight_smile: )


#19

Understood. But job descriptions being what they are, you can wind up spending a ridiculous amount of time and energy – both of your own and of the recruiter – using your proposed question as a sufficient requirement. This is why we have words and why we have dictionaries: so that certain things have particular meanings.

I always find myself dragging out of recruiters what they mean by “code.” No matter what their answer (and the breadth of those answers is mindboggling), they are invariably surprised to find that theirs is not the Received Definition.

I can understand why some people are unclear on the difference between Markup and Code and any particular language. I do not understand why anyone would be satisfied with the current non-definition and the poor communication that results.


#20

Personally I’ve started 13 years ago as a web developer and I stopped coding more or less 6 years ago when I entered the UI design and then the UX design career. So I “know” :slight_smile: html, css, js, php, mysql, but even c++, java, etc.

For me being UX designer with coding skills helps me a lot when I set up all my UX work that is the basis for other devs. I anticipate problems and have a higher armony with the CTO and the devs during brainstorms and workshops.

But… writing code? Nope! We have tons of stuff to do. Writing code takes a lot of time and skills day by day improved and updated by the super-fast-changing web development industry. How can we do everything? :confused: being a good front-end dev requires a full-time effort. Technologies like React, Angular, and co, are not picnic. I know they are simpler then BE dev languages, but I am pretty sure that you need to stay there full-time to master them and bring home professional results.

I personally think that even UX unicorn shouldn’t code. They already are into UX strategy, design, research, IA, etc. etc. That’s my current status and I’d love to have a UX team!