Working towards UX of the product but not a good front-end-developer/coder

Hi all,

Let me start by introducing myself and giving you all an over view of my skills.

I am a designer working towards building my career in UX/UI Design. I currently got a job as a front end developer in a start up company, it’s been a week working in the new company.
My past experiences consist of graphic and web designing & illustrations. (almost 2 years of experience) and my highest level of study is in IT Project Management.

My concern with my job is that I am finding programming Javascript from scratch is difficult and I cannot really show any results as days pass by. Right now, feeling very demotivated for that reason!

Although, I know my skills really are in designing and NOT in coding. Creating visually appealing interface and striving to provide the best optimum user experience to a product can have is what I want to do. It is very clear what my strengths and weaknesses are, coding just slows me down and i find it difficult to grasp codes.

I would like some advice/ your opinions and suggestions towards my role please and How should I break it out to my employers/BOSS what I can actually do for them?(i.e. designing, creating wireframes, user interviews etc. Right now there is no workflow/process to develop the product and it is really difficult to work without a process even in an agile development environment.)

PS: Coding in the new company is difficult because everything is coded from scratch and very less of JS framework is used. I am finding it really difficult because my programming basics are not strong and I am not really good at learning it either. It takes me a hell lot of time and as we all know, progress is what they want, but I am really slow in learning codes, that is my difficulty.

Do other designers face this problem too? How do you over-come it?

Is there a UX role where there is no coding required?

Please provide your views over such kind of situation. Thank you all.

Hi Mel,

Sounds like you are in a bit of a sticky situation, did you let your employer know when you applied for the job what your areas of expertise were around? Did they just put you as a font end developer knowing this?

The reason why I ask is that there may have been some confusion around what role you wanted to do and the role of the font end developer.
My advice would be for you to sit down and have a candid discussion with your boss. Mention the fact that you have been trying to teach yourself coding, as your background is design, and that you have been struggling.

Are you the only front end developer?

See if you can make a case for why you could do the UX and UI work instead, this can be great practice for later jobs. When having discussions it is good to mention the difficulties that you are coming up against, but it is even better to have possible solutions. So maybe come up with a game plan of all the things you can do in the UX area, and how they would be beneficial to the startup. As really, they need to be integrated from the start, including user research. After you have come up with a plan, go have the chat, and you may find that you get the go ahead.

But this is coming from a standpoint of not knowing much of your team, the roles, etc. So for instance, if you are the only front-end-developer, then your boss may not be as keen for you to move away from the coding (although personally UX work should be done before writing code).

I’ve found that people find it a lot easier to say yes they like things (or don’t), yes that’s a good idea (or not). So if you show initiative, suggest a plan, try and prove to them that having a workflow and process will benefit the team, and therefore whatever you are trying to create, they are much more likely to get on board.

I think that the requirement to be able to code is becoming much stronger, but again it depends on your team size. I’m guessing that with startups, there may be a lot more mixing of disciplines because of the smaller teams. In the job the I currently work in, I am a User Experience Designer, and I am not required to code. I’m learning web for interest and personal use :). But I also work in a bigger company where they have front-end and back-end developers.

Feel free to ask any more questions!

Hey Mel,
That sounds really scary. I’ve been in a similar position so I know how you feel. Often people gloss over things that they don’t want to hear, and it sounds like your boss did you a bit of a disservice during the interview.

If I was you I’d do two things.

  1. I’d talk to your boss. Be honest. Say that you’re feeling in over your head but that you know it’s something that you can easily get on top of, you just need some extra support. That will do several things. It will take the pressure off you so that you can concentrate on the job, rather than feeling stressed all the time. It will also show your boss that you’re flexible, honest and smart. I personally believe that honesty is always a good approach. Remember that it is going to be a lot more hassle for the company to replace you right now than it is for them to give you some support to upskill.

  2. Take an online course. I work for another company that offers plenty of online Javascript courses (they are relatively cheap, but not free). Check out Learnable. If you don’t have money to spend, there are plenty of free online resources available.

Hang in there. You sound very brave, you’ll get there.

I agree with HAWK, and I can also see how coming up with a plan is difficult, especially with the VP completing the designs directly themselves.

I think it is possible to put forward suggestions without saying that anything is wrong, although when I say possible, I don’t mean easy, especially if the VP is particularly married to the designs that they are creating.

I would highly suggest that you guys at least user test the designs? You don’t want to get to the point that you have built it, and then no one can use it. So at least for validation of concept, and of the workflow etc. Sometimes a good way of suggesting this can be the fact that it will save time and money, but again it will depend on the VP’s outlook.

Anyone else got some suggestions? This one is a difficult one.

Hang in there, you’ve managed to get this far, in a new country! It is difficult, and if you need more help or support, please do let us know.

Good on you for taking action, I hope it works out for you.

Do you need help finding another job in UX? Where are you based? Perhaps we can point you towards some resources.

Hi Mel,

I’ve come a little late to the party on this one I see, but I just wanted to see if you’re ok? It sounds like a really difficult situation and I agree with the advice that was offered by Natalie and Hawk. I think you did the best you could given the situation and I think it’s awesome that you’ve moved to a new country! I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but I found this UXmas article particularly inspiring:

Hi Mel, sorry to hear you had to go through that. I come from more of the coding side and I can tell you Javascript is not easy to just jump into. I actually avoid JS as much as possible. With html5 and css you can do a lot of things in CSS that you used to have to do in JS. Jquery makes it easier but even Jquery takes a basic understanding of JavaScript. Anyways, you did the right thing… glad you got it resolved.