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Should designers know how to code?

September 2, 2010

Personally, I’ve deliberately steered away from learning technical skills myself in the last few years. Partially this has been more to do with a practical level of wanting to focus any previous personal development resources on expanding and improving my own UX skillset, rather than branching into other areas. Having no formal visual design training or drawing skills is a gap in my skill-set that I’d love to formally plug at some point. And would probably be more directly useful on most of my projects.

There is also a very good argument to be made for not comprising your design skills by becoming more technical. As a professional advocate for the needs of users I believe that this is more important.

In the ongoing struggle in any company for balance between the Business needs, Technical feasibility and User needs, it is always the voice of the User that gets drowned out. Simply because they’re not there in person at the decision making table to argue for their own needs.

Enter the role of the UX Designer. That’s what we’re there to do – represent the user and their needs.

There is usually more than a full-time job just making sure that user insights are what drives the design process. I’ve rarely, if ever, worked in a team that is over staffed with UXers.

Until we reach that utopian land where users roam free and everyone thinks about the user needs first, making UX specialists redundant, I’ll continue to leave the coding up to the Devs and focus understanding and designing for user needs.

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