UX Careers: To Code or Not to Code?


The narrative being pout out there isn’t that designers could learn additional skills, it’s that designers SHOULD learn other ‘complimentary’ skills.
Lets look at this a little more. There is a massive difference between 'could’ code and ‘should’ code. I don’t think I need to pull up a dictionary to differentiate the two words.
Secondly, what is complimentary to design? Code? Yes. Business strategy? Yes. Art? Yes… anything can complement design if it really wanted to.
Where this argument gets tiring is that there is a preconceived notion that designers are so versatile and flexible they SHOULD do a lot of things. Why should they? I think this is unfair. Which is why when I reverse the question I hear crickets. Suddenly coders see the vast array of design methodologies, theories and tools they would need to be good at so that they SHOULD design. You get me?
Don’t get me wrong, I started my foray into design from being a developer many many years ago. I like getting my hands dirty with some code sometimes. But do I want to do it as part of my role as a designer? Heck no! Do i expect other designers to do the same? No. There are coders for that and thats it. Could we have hybrids and unicorns? Sure, in every indusry we have them but i wouldn’t expect every designer to feel anxious about learning how to code especially when they haven’t felt the need to ever in their lives.
Let’s just get real and drop this nonsense of 'complimentary skills and master what we love please.

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@ari_rahmati totally agree to your point :smiley:

I believe, this is majorly due to the lack of education about how UX designers adds value to a company.

Often people call design as common sense, but what they might not be realizing is that its not very common to have common sense (keeping users at center). This is also because most of the products in early 90’s were dominated by technological revolution which contributed to business majorly, but yes the recent realization of tech industry about User Experience is revolutionizing the end users experience and business.

Long way to go for User Experience Design :slight_smile:

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Answer is “A Designer must have basic knowledge of coding to understand Developer’s perspective and constraints” so that you don’t get fooled by Developers.


Another point to add is doing Design is a full-time job. So is coding. So do you want someone who is only partially good at both? People who say designers should code don’t fully understand design. :grinning:


Should musicians learn how to read music? Paul McCartney has been making music for 60 years; still can’t.

It’s going to vary from person to person, and even job to job. Do you want to learn to code? Do you need to? At the very least you need to learn a bit of the common language to work with developers (they should be learning a little about design too!), but beyond that do what works for you.

For me personally, I’ve been dabbling in HTML and CSS since high school (because it’s always fun to show off your geocities page to friends, right?). Early on in my career I worked at small ad agencies, and always ended up being known for my scrappiness, which helped me survived a couple rounds of lay-offs.

I went to school for graphic design and all of my jobs have focused around design… but things always came up. We need someone to edit these videos or build this email sign-up page? Sure, I’ll do it… how hard can it be :upside_down_face: ? I’ve taken on photography, video editing, copywriting, IT, customer interviews, illustration… I helped style food for a photoshoot when we didn’t have the budget. My employers got a lot of bang for their buck (and I lost a lot of free time trying to be good at things I had no experience in).

As I continued on in my career this became more and more valuable, not necessarily because I could do those skills well… but because I knew how to talk to the people who could.

Moving on from ad agencies I found that I needed to wear fewer hats and focused back in on traditional design, UX, and front-end development. I think in hindsight these were always the skills I was most interested in and were constant threads throughout all the other insanity. I wanted to learn how to code, so gradually I did. Now I’m doing some form of design and development work every day.

This is a consideration for sure. I spent a lot of time learning how to do things (some valuable, some not)… but in the short-term the designers who were only designing were often producing better design work. And of course they were, they were accumulating experience faster. It took me longer to pick up those skills because I was picking up other stuff along the way… but that’s what worked for me.

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Love this.

My opinion on this topic hasn’t changed in years and it is very much aligned with yours (thank god). I think it varies from person to person and job to job. I started out doing a design degree and ended up as a software developer. It wasn’t what I planned but that’s got a lot to do with the fact that the internet was only very new when I was at university.

The bottom line for me is this… if you narrow your mindset you’ll limit your opportunities. Be prepared to follow the breadcrumbs.


As a musician and a UX-guy (and former programmer) in one person i can say first hand:

It is not neccessary to be able to read music to be a (very) good musician, but it can help you to get a way better musician.
On the other hand it can completely turn the other way, it can hinder you to think as free as you would do without the knowledge.

It is the same with coding and UX.

But this is only my personal opinion and experience. May not work for everybody.


When I started out I ended up having to write my own websites HTML CSS and some Javascript. I got quite good at it and I say I use that knowledge in my day-to-day UX work.

It’s not a must, but it helps to give context to what you propose.


I think this is a great one line summary.

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