No, most UX Designers are not required to code (at least, not at an advanced level). However, it’s still to their advantage to develop an understanding and appreciation for what Developers do. And if they are able to code? Even better.
Should UX Designers learn to code?
Yes, UX Designers should learn to code. While it might not be required, the more programming knowledge a UX Designer has, the better they’ll be able to communicate with the rest of the development team. During the prototyping phase, for example, UX Designers work alongside Web Developers, Mobile App Developers, and others to create a model that will embody all the final product’s main ideas.
End users don’t care how the feel or function of a product was achieved. They only care how it works—and that it works. The first concern (how to use the product) is the UX Designers’ job; the second (that it works properly) is the Front-End Developers’. This essentially describes two complementary imperatives: user requirements and software requirements. It’s to the advantage of everyone for both of these camps to have their champions, focused solely on their own priorities. But that said, the more effectively they communicate and cooperate, the better.
For this reason, UX Designers need to be able to speak the language of both users and Developers. Design often begins with real-world research into the people who will use a product and the environment it’ll be used in, which demands a real ability to listen and place yourself in other people’s shoes. Gaining that insight is the UX Designer’s job, not the Developer’s.
Thus the UX Designer also needs to be able to think like a Developer, to translate user needs into specific design features and communicate those details in the language of development—of deadlines and budgets and what technology can and can’t do. If a Developer tells you a given feature is impossible, how are you going to refute them without first understanding how to make it happen? As UX Designer and Information Architect Ben Shoemate puts it, “Real Designers make their own design work.”
UX Designers who do want to learn to code have plenty of options, with coding bootcamps standing as a popular choice to gain coding skills in a relatively short period of time.
It’s also worth noting that, while UX Designers may not be expected to write lines of code, they will be expected to be fully fluent in multiple software platforms.
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