Personal Update

Hey guys, two days ago I started my summer job in Bounce. I joined their team as a React Native front-end developer. And honestly, it has been a learning experience. Working at a startup is way different than working at a consulting company.

My first startup experience.

Do you know when they say working in a startup is like sprinting all the time?

It exactly is like that.

I am so happy about it ;)

Also my tech background iscoming handy and I missed coding. Unlike many UI/UX designers I am coming from a strong tech background. I will graduate in 8 months from Computer Science degree and I understand what K-1 algorithms are(no you don't need this for being a UI/UX designer).

Yet, a question I still ask my self is how important is it for a designer to know how to code? 

Now, Prototypr gave a decent answer to this question a year ago.

Well, why the hell are you writing this article then, Ahmet?

Because the problem is not in the answer but the question.

Should a UX designer learn how to code is an ambiguous question

The problem here is  pretty simple. We don't have a good definition of coding in the question. Programming is a complex field.  A picture is a thousand words. Look at the image below:

Now, learning HTML/CSS to a decent level might take you a few months top. Learning to implement genetic algorithms will take a tad bit longer than that ;)

Thus, the question usually is missing a key component of specificity.

How about we change the question to this:

Should a UX designer have a basic idea of how the technology industry they are

Benefits of knowing just enough coding for the specific industry you are working at as a designer

There are many benefits to knowing just enough code to understand how the technology you are designing for works. On top of my head, there are 3 primary benefits.

1.You will communicate with developers better

Let' say you are a UX designer that specializes in Saas web applications.

You did your research, you talked to the dev team and everything went supportive till you deliver the high fidelity prototype. The front end enginner of your team wants to talk to you in private.

He is worried about the technical debt and he says:

"The change in the pages will take at least 2 weeks to integrate with browser compatibility. Here is a compromise solution I came up with."

You want to understand what the hell is browser compatibility and why is it making your designs turn to shit.

Now, learning some programming has a lot of advantages for you especially if those languages are HTML/CSS and Javascript.

2.You will have the ability to get your ideas out there

While high fidelity prototypes are useful for showing your products to potential clients, with just enough HTML/CSS/ Javascript knowledge, you can  push your ideas to the world.

You can build the MVP of your product. Thus, for those of you who want to start your startup in the future as designers, coding will be an indispensable skill for you.

Look at how  Pieter Levels launched 12 ideas in 12 months with just a basic ability in coding. If you want to ship products and  test if the potential customer will not only use but buy from you, learning to code is a good investment.

3.A new way of thinking to solve problems will help you

While both programmers and designers solve problems for clients, the way they solve problems differ. Programmers think much more in terms of functionality while UX designers most often rely on visual problem-solving.

If you want to get better at figuring out what kind of data you need in each page or screen you are creating in wireframe learning to code will help you a lot.

What kind of the company do you want to work for?

1.UX design position in startups and small Consulting Companies

Here is a UI/UX designer startup job post from angel.co where the job posting says:

"Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is considered an asset
Experience working with WordPress is considered an asset
Up-to-date with the latest UI trends, techniques, and technologies
Degree or diploma in design, or related experience
Experience working in a fast-paced agency environment"

A small startup and a consulting agency will have their employees wear much more different hats. Also, you will work closely with multiple departments all at once because the size of company is too small.

For these companies, if you understand some front technology such as HTML/CSS and Javascript then you will interact better with their dev team.

Remember, each tie you bring a developer a design solution that will

2.UX design position in big companies such as Apple, Amazon

The larger the company gets, the less they care about your coding skill. Because of the company's size, people get to specialize and your communication with dev team changes as well.

You may not even be a UI/UX designer but the job roles might be:

  • UI designer
  • UX Researcher
  • UX Writer
  • etc

Where should I start learning how to code as a designer?

Sites to Learn Programming

  1. Udemy.com
  2. Skillshare.com
  3. Khan Academy.com
  4. Pluralsight.com
  5. Lynda

Specific Online Courses For Programming

  1. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: The Big Picture by Pluralsight
  2. Learn Web Designing & HTML5/CSS3 Essentials in 4-Hours by Brad Hussey from Udemy
  3. HTML Essential Training by Jen Simmons from Lynda

Books to learn Programming

  1. Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set by Jon Duckett
  2. Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics by Jennifer Robbins
  3. Head First JavaScript Programming: A Brain-Friendly Guide  by   Erica Freeman                                              

Call to Action

What do you think about learning to program to improve your career as a UI/UX designer?