Should UX designers code?
Updated: Aug 23, 2018
This is a question that has been doing the rounds for quite sometime. When applying for jobs, I have been asked if I would be interested in a developer role or design + develop, given my coding background. And my reply has always been the same - NO.
The reason is simple - bias. All humans are biased, one way or the other. Anyone who thinks otherwise is highly delusional or give up drinking. One time, I was working on a design problem and presented the solution. The feedback I got was,
“This is an excellent solution for an engineer, but I am looking for a designer”
It was a punch in the gut. This was 6 months after having quit my coding job and having worked on several case studies. The saying, “Old habits die hard” is true. When I was pressed for time, my brain switched to the old ways of thinking. The solution was designed from a system perspective but from a user’s point of view.
For the next few days I worked diligently to un-learn the facts I picked up as a coder over the years. As a user experience designer, our primary role is be aware of our biases and not to let that seep into our designs. A designer who spends a lot of time coding is bound to pick up more biases and lose track of the user.
Having a basic understanding of how code works and the underlying frameworks is definitely essential to design feasible solutions. But it is not necessary to know how to code a website or a mobile app. I I were to work on a cosmetics brand, I would not dress up like Lady Gaga.
Understanding the domain and becoming an expert in the domain are two different ends of the spectrum.
If a designer is genuinely interested in learning to code, then code by all means. But coding should not be forced as a skill for a UX designer.