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  • Writer's pictureYG Design Studio

Do UX Designers Need to Learn How to Code?

The user experience (“UX”) of any web or mobile app plays a large role in whether that app is successful. Because of this, UX designers need all necessary skills and tools at their disposal to successfully do their jobs.

Yes, there are many great tools on the internet, ranging from Sketch to Webflow. Nevertheless, when discussing compulsory skills and tools for UX designers, the conversation naturally shifts to whether UX designers need to learn how to code. Those who argue in favor of learning to code say things like “It will allow you to prototype faster” and “It will make you stand out compared to other UX designers.” Those on the opposite side of this debate, however, point to the most successful designers (like Steve Jobs) who never learned how to code.

“ Do UX Designers Really Need to Learn How to Code?Company never asked me for coding. However, I realized I need a coding for user centered design. "

This is a heated debate with no clear answer. But if you were to ask me, I would respond this way: it depends. While learning how to code can be a terrific idea for many people, it may not be a wise investment if it is going to slow you down in your quest to become a better UX designer.

You ultimately need to make the decision yourself. However, if you are struggling with this decision, I wanted to outline several things that you should think about. Doing so can help you make the best decision for your career while minimizing wasted time.

Things to Consider Before Learning to Code

Before picking up your first book on Python or JavaScript or signing up for an account on Codecademy, it is critical to understand “coding” in the UX context. Luckily, “learning how to code” in this context does not mean that you need to be a so-called full-stack developer. Instead, even learning something as simple as HTML and CSS can provide you with some coding expertise. HTML and CSS—while relatively simple languages—are still extremely useful in web design. As we will discuss below, understanding these languages can make you a quicker, more efficient UX designer. Ultimately, however, before making your decision, it is helpful (and perhaps reassuring) to know that you don’t need to spend many years studying coding for it to be valuable in your UX career.

Next, consider the general benefits and costs of learning to code. The most significant benefit of learning to code is that you can rapidly prototype new ideas. You can hack together small examples of your thoughts, which can also reduce some of the communication frictions between UX designers and developers. And lest we forget, learning to code is a lifelong skill that can pay massive dividends down the road.

As far as costs, however, the most significant cost will most likely be your time. Regardless of your intelligence or IQ, becoming a competent programmer is challenging. It requires many hours of work and you need to consistently practice your craft. Because of these time commitments, it becomes increasingly tempting to use wireframing and other UX tools (like Sketch or Webflow) that allow you to rapidly prototype without learning to code. These alternative tools are extremely helpful, intuitive, and cheap. Essentially, they provide all of the benefits of learning how to code without actually learning how to do it.

Finally, think about whether learning to code will interfere with your goal to become a better UX designer. Learning to code in and of itself isn’t useful. The real value comes from applying those coding skills to UX problems that you encounter in your life. Therefore, if you foresee this task swallowing up your time and preventing you from improving in your UX craft, it is likely in your interest to drop the coding work.

An Important Debate

This “code versus no code” debate still exists today and will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, as a UX designer, it is important to grapple with this question yourself. It may not be easy, but it is absolutely worth your time.

Even though I can’t provide the precise answer for you, I encourage you to consider the questions and ideas above when making your decision. By being deliberate and coming to a rational, calculated decision, you will be making the best decision for your career in UX design.

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