Why designers should code

Lately I’ve been working on my portfolio. I haven’t programmed for a long time and I decided to code my portfolio from scratch, with no help of any automated site builders. I wanted to prove to myself I still got it, and also show I can code, as a crucial part of the portfolio. This got me wondering whether a designer should know how to code or not. Many designers have shared their thoughts about this topic and I wanted to share some of mine.

TL;DR: They should.

It’s fun!

As a designer, one of the most fulfilling and exciting things is watching your work come to life. The excitement in this is far more powerful when you’re the one who’s bringing your design to life. Coding your design makes you more related to your product, therefore much happier when it actually works.


Break the barrier

Why settle on being just a designer? By being a coding designer that knows how to code, you conquer a huge part of the product development process, making you one of the most important people on the team. While I was studying UX design I learned that the power of the UX designer is making the connection – between graphic design and managers, between the users and the programmers, between technology and psychology. By being a designer who codes, you create a strong connection between designing and programming, and make the collaboration much more fluent.

Know the language

By saying “know the language”, I don’t mean only languages like JavaScript or HTML. Let’s say you’re not actually coding, but designing things for programmers to develop (Like I usually do). By knowing how programmers work, what’s the process and what are their preferences, you’ll have a better connection with them. You’ll sell your design better if you’d know what’s it like developing it. You’ll be even more convincing if you’d have recommendations for developing it (like what libraries are the best for the job). Just don’t be too cocky.

Know your limits

You need to know what’s possible to code and what’s not, so you won’t design something that’s impossible or too complicated to actually create. You don’t need to be the master of programming in order to know what designs are possible and decent for developers; You just need to be good enough to know how your designs generally work in order to determine if they’re possible. Also, you’ll have the authority to say things are possible and argue with developers who say they can’t create something.

Get inspired

Knowing what’s possible and which libraries do what, reading code documentation and patterns inspire you to create things you didn’t think about. A couple of days ago, I’ve searched for a JavaScript library for a certain visual effect and then found some other libraries that do some amazing visual effects I haven’t even thought about. Even if I won’t use it for this specific purpose, I’ll have a good reference in my head in the future.

Go code

So, I’ve mentioned some of the main reasons I think designers should code. On top of it all, I recommend all you designers out there to learn the basics of programming, just to get the hang of it and see if it suits you. I promise you’ll learn a lot and challenge yourself in a very good way.

Do you agree designers should know how to code? Why? Tell me all about it in the comments.

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