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Should designers learn how to code?

  • Tech
  • Designer
  • Software developer
  • HTML
  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • JavaScript

Should designers learn how to code?

Take article at which you excel then push yourself further.

Jon Vieira
Story by
Jon Vieira

A large area of the design association is locked in debate over whether designers should code. Some favor gluttonous out the unicorns who can do both, while others claim they don’t exist, or only get in the way.

Many designers think that designers and developers need to collaborate, but each conduct should stick to what they know. Others see no botheration with professionals cutting assorted hats. Many developers see designers who code a threat, while others see them as acceptable collaborators who have abstruse to speak their language.

The sweet spot, which is called “shared understanding,” is apparently about in the middle. Alive a bit about code doesn’t mean a artist has to become an expert coder, but simply accept a developer’s perspective.

The UI, or the “presentation layer” is a designer’s playground, but absorption on that alone is akin to only because the facade of a building. Great designers accept that being accustomed with the abstruse underpinnings that bear their designs not only makes a artist more impressive, it decidedly boosts their career prospects.

As Aaron Walter, VP of Design Education at InVision, stated in a Toptal Design Talks article: “It’s not going to kill a artist if they knew a little bit about how to write some HTML and CSS, maybe a little bit of JavaScript.”

Designers who code are better collaborators.
Designers who code, even a little, and can make themselves a great asset to any multidisciplinary team.

The whole “should designers learn to code” topic is hotly debated. Though some great designers are also good at coding, many accept that absorbed focus on a accurate skill will make a able stronger. Many also accept that today, being a multi-skilled artist is a big plus, and that there should be annihilation in the way of a artist having addition useful skill, such as coding, under their belt.

The catechism is, how much coding should designers know? Would designers be crumbling their time, or bridge boundaries into the developer’s area and potentially dispatch on toes?

The allowances of alive basic HTML and CSS

Designers would account abundantly from accepting some basal adeptness of what’s called the “front end” (the presentation layer) driven by HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, a accent that describes the basic styles in an HTML document), and would conceivably be afraid by how easy it is to learn the basics.

HTML and CSS don’t absorb programming logic. The letter M in HTML stands for “Markup,” a way to call the coded anatomy of page elements which are the architecture blocks of pages. HTML with CSS and JavaScript, form a triad of basal technologies for the World Wide Web.

Designers could merge adeptness of programming and design.

In layman’s terms, HTML is an architectural map that tells the browser what to display, and CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is the code that tells the browser how to affectation things.

Metaphorically speaking, if HTML is the skeleton of a page, CSS would call the height, the body shape, the skin, eye color, hair color, etc. The accent has a very simple code anatomy that determines typography, colors, positions and dimensions.

Understanding code and how to code is compassionate pixels

Learning how to code the front-end UI and previewing it, gives designers the befalling to anon see how things are displayed when viewed on assorted devices. If designers play with HTML and CSS, they’ll notice that aggregate is abstinent in pixels (there are other altitude units such as “ems” and percentages that will ultimately be adapted to pixels).

Understanding abstracts and code structure, i.e., how pages are displayed, will accommodate a deeper compassionate of the front-end development process. That in turn will cause designers think more deeply about their designs and how to make them more able for that process. They will know what can be easily able and what would be more challenging.

Coding for designers is a great asset.

Front-end JavaScript and Ajax adeptness make a design a unique asset

This is where things can start to get complicated, but it’s also where a lot of fun happens. If a artist is an analytic thinker, or awfully motivated, they’ll get a lot out of acquirements JavaScript and Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). Why?

Demonstrating front-end UI abstruse adeptness and being abreast in Ajax will go a long way to earning the account of developers. Being able to advertence JavaScript and Ajax and how to use them will boost a designer’s adeptness to clear a decidedly adult design idea to developers, e.g., the design of a specific functionality in the UI.

A designer’s angle will augment if they are adequate alive absolutely how far technology can take them, and how far they can push it to innovate. Going deep into coding and assorted technologies is not necessary—if a artist knows the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, with a admixture of Ajax, they’ll already be miles ahead of the competition. They will be a unique asset to any aggregation and the artefact team.

About programming and design
Aaron Walter, VP of Design Education at InVision, outlines how designers and developers can coact better in a Toptal Design Talks article.

Designers can take it to the next level with JavaScript basics

Although designers could stop here and have the back end (the data access layer) implemented by developers, they can make a design more activating by adding some scripting. Enter JavaScript (a scripting language), which is a programming accent for the web.

In the early 2000s when the web was still evolving, agencies such as Fantasy and Firstborn made a big consequence on the web design association when they took advantage of JavaScript in unusual, innovative, and artistic ways.

JavaScript can update and change both HTML and CSS, and can calculate, manipulate, and validate data. It can be used to affectation activating interactions, breathing elements, create acknowledging advice with the back end or server, and more.

There is no limit to what can be able with JavaScript in front-end development. It is a programming language: functions, objects, logic, conditionals, math, math, and more math—which can be a little arduous for some. But it’s not that hard to learn, abnormally because what the majority of audience require.

Why is JavaScript important for designers?
Animated timelines like these can be created with JavaScript alone. (

Learning to code will advance accord with developers

Would adventurous relationships be easier if men and women could read each other’s minds? Some people think so. The same thing applies to designers and developers.

Knowing how developers think, and what they need to be able to do their job, will make a designer a great asset to any multidisciplinary team. This access is useful for centralized communications as well as idea pitches because they will have more of an idea about what to expect from the other associates of the team. If designers can do this, they will be in a much better position to adduce more robust solutions to clients.

Designers who code will see more job opportunities

In every design job opportunity, alive how to code can make a big aberration in the screening processes as well as the day to day work. At Toptal, we see a bunch of opportunities for professionals with this hybrid profile, and startups out there are eager to find people that can take over both the design and front end of their early-stage applications.

Coding for designers is an advantage.
Learning how to code might lead to some abrupt opportunities.

Still, there are some designers and programmers who animosity one addition prying into each other’s business. Some may be threatened, some may be challenged, and some may be too lazy to learn article new. But the truth is, each should assay their options, and focus on what will access their affairs of success.

Designers may not have enough time to learn everything, but alive boilerplate HTML and CSS should be enough to add a cogent acumen amid a blooming career and a blocked one. It should be a quick and easy action for designers to take the first steps. The more they know, the more they can expand their horizons when it comes to job opportunities.

Should designers learn to code?

Adaptability and adaptability alive with other teams, the adeptness to tackle a array of projects, and a wide set of skills with which to take on assorted responsibilities is always in high demand. Is there a artist anywhere who wouldn’t want to have an edge over others when it comes to highly-coveted jobs at agitative startups, or big accustomed tech companies?

Designers have their approaches, processes, armory of design tools, and deliverables, but that’s only part of the equation. Exploring, and accumulation an compassionate of how UI designs are delivered using assorted agenda technologies, can take designers to the next level and boost their adeptness to bear great designs.

Increasingly, more and more work opportunities in the design field accommodate “nice-to-haves” such as basic web-development and prototyping skills using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It’s for each artist to decide how much to take on; acutely the need is out there.

Designers who code see more job opportunities.

Is AI going to annihilate front-end developers?

One catechism charcoal though: Is coding for designers going to stay accordant in the longer term? There is an clue among designers that with AI and apparatus learning, designers will soon be able to design after code. Just drag-and-drop and move things around on the screen, then press a button and AI codes the whole thing. In other words, jobs for these types of front-end developers will bound disappear.

Where designers are concerned, the answer may lie in cerebration concise vs long-term. In the near future, AI will not take over, and designers who code may still be in high demand. For the short term, designers who want to stand out should keep assertive basic coding skills such as JavaScript and Ajax in their arsenal.

Mastery of coding for designers will boost careers

UI designers who have a desire to grow and boost their skillset have a few options at their disposal. They can brush up on a array of design skills and move into other roles such as visual design, UX, or even UX research. They can also incrementally climb the ladder into more senior, principal, lead, manager, and director-level roles.

However, to really boost their careers, designers may want to delve more into development. Accepting deep adeptness of assorted technologies that drive agenda accessories today will equip them with a highly adorable set of skills. That in turn will open more doors to job opportunities at companies big and small.

Should designers code? Maybe, maybe not. But designers who code, or at least authenticate deep adeptness of assorted technologies, will become a great asset to any multidisciplinary team, and it will absolutely pay off in the long run.

Published May 8, 2020 — 09:00 UTC

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