How much coding do you actually do?


This. Well said.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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

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


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.”


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?


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.


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: )


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.


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!


This! Staying current and always learning is what I think makes the difference between a good and a great dev. Unless coding is your primary focus, it’s just not realistic to stay on top of everything. Things move so fast. I learned that the hard way – I wrote software for almost 15 years. I stopped for 8 to have my kids and now I can hardly write a SQL query!


Like to say a lot but writing down some.

  • Anybody can learn to program. The only thing is you need to put effort, dedication, patience and moreover passion. I will never prefer anybody to get to program for their employer. Because if you are learning it for someone, you will always be bounded inside their requirement and won’t get the chance to feel the best part of programming. So do it for yourself. Caution Programming is vast

  • Amending to @katie reply - Rather than programming I suggestion to start document authoring; i.e. HTML and CSS. Why I suggest learning HTML and CSS because first of all, you can learn a universal digital documenting language. On top of that CSS helps you to understand more about digital layout and estimating implementation efforts. Also, it will help you to start with accessibility and programming using Javascript. But as a designer, it’s always good to track the technologies around you because it will bring more opportunity to broaden your thoughts.

  • Before starting designing as my mainstream, I was a programmer and worked with an array of languages/technologies. And then I stopped it once I started. But I only stopped for the employers, not for myself. I Still writes a lot of code for my projects and still loves coding.

  • Does programming skill influence my design? Big Yes! some quick points about it

  • The main part of my design workflow is entirely based on different programming methodologies and paradigms.

  • System Level Thinking.

  • Better bridging with developers.


I don’t do any coding or scripting. I can do it, and I have coded my own website (HTML and CSS). I used to learn PHP and MySQL, Actionscript, some Javascript, as a hobby. Those were still in the years I was in high-school, and it was in the curriculum.

But now, in a job, as a UX Designer? If I do, it’s by choice, but I hardly do (none in the past 4 years). If a recruiter reaches out with a job description that requires some FE coding skills, I politely tell them they are not looking for a UX Designer.

@amirrr made a good point, a UX Designer is supposed to be in so much already: strategy, user research, testing, wireframing, UI design,…coding is simply out of scope if you focus on the full UX. Unfortunately employers don’t fully understand what UX is, as they just think it’s about defining the placement of UI elements on the screen, and taking care of the FE implementation seems like a reasonable thing to ask in their minds.

This might be a really fundamentalist thing to say: if you’re doing any front-end development as a ‘UX Designer’, there is no way you’re really doing UX. Sounds more like UI Design.

Yet again Don Norman explaining his definition of UX, and what UX Designers do:



Of course, there is an issue in terms of maturity. Look at our curriculum, many of us have been in development for years and years, guessing something in the process was wrong, and then switched to UX as a matured status. It needs time, and frustration.

I always feel sad when I hear people talking about UX just in terms of usability of interfaces (i.e. low maturity). It’s sad but at the same time normal. UXD is a difficult subject… coding is hard but UXD has a different type of hardness. If you code you immediately see your output, how can we say the same for UX research, strategy, testing, design, iterations, etc.? We are not focused on the matter, we are focused on the experience through matter (and I find hardness even in reading this last statement! :smile:) I don’t blame people, we can’t expect maturity from people. It’s the environment that has to be already set by a UX matured person.

Awesome! Indeed, only a person who understands what designing experiences is about, can grow a team towards that. For example, I think people at InVision are doing this really really right, they are building a super human-centered design company.


I dont do coding. But now I have problem with a team. They requires it, but I want to focus on substantial things which UX do. One UX in the team knows coding, so they naturally thinks I will do it too. Would you please recomend me how to ‘‘defend’’ in this situation?

Frankly, I dont have ‘‘brain’’ for coding and I never will, sure it is realy reallyy huge plus when UX knows coding, but UX is so wide and I think its in no one’s power to know everything. By UX I do copywriting and a bit of marketing consultancy, so I think its enough for my brain.


Here’s my issue with wanting a UX position to code - the thought process behind design, more specifically UI design, but design in general - is that it uses a different side of the brain than coding does. I can code some rudimentary HTML/CSS stuff, but if I start going down the coding rabbit hole, my design work turns to garbage. It’s a left / right brain sort of thing, and it’s hard for me to “switch” back and forth between creative thinking vs procedural thinking, which is what’s required during coding. Likewise, if I’m doing design work, my code is terrible.

Some small projects want a unicorn, but I don’t think it’s the right choice from staffing perspective. Budget-wise, it’s all some can afford. However, I don’t think most people can do the two tasks well simultaneously.

Luckily, my current job doesn’t require coding, although I do manage a team of coders in addition to UX work, which is another thing entirely…


Lot of talk about T-shaped people. So it is perfectly possible that your fellow UX’er knows how to code, and chooses to do it, and that you don’t. Explain that coding is not within your area of expertis, but that you can contribute to other areas of the project life cycle, which is perfectly acceptable. Don’t let yourself get foced into coding, because it won’t benefit anybody.