UX Designers Need to Know How to Code.

Accelerate delivery, strengthen collaboration, and increase your value by spending a couple of weekends learning the basics of code.

Posted on May 12, 2023

The general sense that UX/UI designers don't need to know the basics of code is troubling. This lack of understanding leads to poor design choices, inefficient collaboration, and a less successful end product. Is it ignorance or arrogance?

It’s Not an Art Project (Unless You’re Literally Designing an Art Project).

The UX boot camps and “I make $100k per month” YouTubers steer many people in the wrong direction with false promises. The number of resumes I receive from UX/UI designers who think they're artists is saddening.

The pretty visuals and fancy template layouts, with just the right stock photo you see on Dribbble, might be eye-catching but don’t forget your role: problem-solving and crafting business solutions for users.

You know, making things that work and serve a purpose  —not just look good.

As a UX designer, your job is to solve people problems. That means all people–even developer problems.

By ignoring the technical side of design, you’re creating a significant disconnect between your design and realistic implementation.

Design choices made in ignorance will lead to a mess of impossible-to-implement designs, leaving design and development teams pulling their hair out.

Artistic and creative aspects matter, but technical knowledge is equally critical in UX design. Embrace both sides of the coin, and you'll create solutions that are not only stunning but functional, user-friendly, and implementable.

The result? Projects that succeed, clients who respect your opinion, and genuinely satisfied users.

About Those Twitter Design Heroes.

Our role in UX demands that we understand user needs and business needs and have an eye on how to execute and deliver. I cringe at the nonsense I see on UX Twitter and Dribbble posts. They’re generally thoughtless, uninformed, and poorly executed.

Businesses prioritize success, and many of those designers you follow get knocked down daily if they don’t deliver product design for business success.

Many of those Twitter UX posts you see are misleading at best and dishonest at worst. Ignore your design heroes–they will bring you nothing but doubt.

Do you want to get a job? Shine!

I see a lot of portfolios, and it hurts to see so many UX designers disregard even the most basic knowledge of how products are developed or the need for basic knowledge of how browsers, apps, and devices work.

Not gonna lie. I’m looking to hire UX folks, and those with basic code skills — simple HTML and CSS — the ones who understand how browsers and devices work are ranked above those who don’t know (or care) to learn any code or understand the fundamentals of technology requirements and implementations.

Architects must know the fundamentals of construction. Automotive designers must know how cars work. So, how can UX designers create digital products without knowing how they are made?

Check the Ego at the Door. Collaborate.

A successful UX process hinges on collaboration. We must work closely with product teams and developers to create visually appealing and technically feasible solutions. With a basic understanding of code, we can create easier-to-implement designs, making time and resources more efficient.

Lacking basic technical knowledge negatively impacts collaboration with product teams and developers. Understand the roles and requirements of the entire product development process.

Trust that knowing how your designs are made is essential for your career success.

Learn to Code. Make More Money.

Learning code unlocks new opportunities and enables the creation of better, more effective designs that can actually be delivered quickly. You can apply that knowledge to your design work when you know how products are developed.

The folks with a fundamental understanding of code are in higher demand and command higher salaries.

They can also take on more complex projects and contribute to a broader range of tasks, making them invaluable assets to their teams and organizations.

Who doesn't want to make more money doing what they do?

Invest in yourself.

With so many free sources available to kick-start your code skills over a weekend, why not invest in yourself? Grow as a UX designer, upskill, and become more valuable to any business (e.g., make more money). Check it out:

  • Code Academy: This is where you start. A (mostly) free guide to understanding the basics of code. Even better, the focus is on how you code your design to make real products.
  • Free Code Camp: When you want to level up. A nonprofit that provides a guide to mastering web development. Get your certifications in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.
  • Mozilla Developer Network (MDN): Now you're just having fun. Start from the basics and broaden your horizons. HTML, CSS, JavaScript. Literally, the source that the pros go to for front-end development.

Closing Thoughts.

Understanding how the development process and browsers and devices work is essential for UX/UI designers to create compelling designs and excel in the job market. Invest in your career growth, learn to code, and become a valuable asset!

  • UX design is about problem-solving and creating functional solutions for users, not just aesthetics.
  • Understanding code basics enhances collaboration between UX/UI designers, product teams, and developers.
  • Designers with coding skills are in higher demand, can command higher salaries, and contribute more to their teams and organizations.

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