Artwork of a User Experience at work

Real Web Designers Design

From the archive of this site in 2013, the age old argument of designers learning to code – here we go.

Front end engineering today feels almost unrecognizable today compared to 2013, so do designers still need to code? I still believe designers should have a basic knowledge and capabilities around HTML, Javascript, and CSS but it’s less important today than it was 11 years ago, especially with the no-code tools we have today. This will probably generate some raised eyebrows, but I still think a designer that can code is better than one that can’t. It comes down to being able to bring what you’re designing to life.

Here’s the original post from 2013:

Real Designers Design. Always Have, Always Will

This is a direct, yet seriously delayed, reaction to a tweet one of my heroes put out a while ago. Jeffery Zeldman tweeted this way back in 2009.

He’s absolutely right, but there’s more

I code. I write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I’m pretty good at it. However, there are a lot of people who are way better at it than I am. I am a designer 1st, a developer 2nd. Maybe even 3rd or 4th.

I completely believe and argue for the idea that designers need to be able to write some code. A designer that can turn their own ideas into something working and moving is better for everyone. A designer that can turn something static into a demonstrable prototype can help themselves in the fight against misunderstanding while selling their vision and help production developers get an idea about what they need to deliver.

Right, so I agree with Zeldman’s perspective and tweet, why then are we here?

Don’t let your coding ability constrain your design ideas

I have been in situations where I’ve caught myself in the middle of a design idea that I’ve almost tossed out because I didn’t know how to code it. I’ve caught myself making decisions with designs based on how I’ve coded things in the past. I’ve allowed my limitations in writing code to constrain design choices.

While having some grounding in what’s possible is always good, we need to remember there are people who can make the magic of our ideas happen in ways we can’t.

Pair yourself with great developers, learn from each other. Let go of the constraints of what you’re capable of coding/building and use your talent to design the best solution for your customer or user. Engage developers in your ideas early and learn from each other. The more you do that, the more you’ll learn about writing code while pushing your design talent at the same time.


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