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6 Benefits of Learning to Code as a UI/UX Designer – MUO – MakeUseOf

September 18, 2023

Level up your UI/UX design skills with coding! Here are some key benefits that make learning to code invaluable for designers.
In the tech world, it’s commonly believed that coding and UI/UX design are opposite ends of the spectrum. Several designers don’t interact with code, and some see no reason why they should. From most viewpoints, UI/UX design is for creatives, while coding suits analytical minds, and these two have no middle ground.
But this opinion couldn't be any more wrong, as a basic understanding of coding is essential for any designer. Here, you’ll learn six benefits of learning to code as a UI/UX designer and the necessary coding skills you’ll need on your journey.
In most cases, there seems to be a gap between the designer’s wants and the developer’s final work on several projects and teams. It’s common to hear designers complain about the developer’s poor implementation of their designs due to misunderstandings and poor communication.
Thus, learning to speak a developer’s language helps you explain certain design techniques and requirements. This way, you can better convey your message, correct irregularities, and understand the developer’s thought process, eventually resulting in seamless project execution.
Creativity is paramount for a UI/UX designer; your work should always be distinct and eye-catching. Yet, a stunning design is useless if it’s not feasible on the developer’s end.
Learning to code as a designer gives you a reality check whenever your designs are on the verge of being impractical. With this knowledge, you can design with programming principles in mind to have a mental picture of the end product even before the developer comes in.
On the other hand, without the basics of coding, you risk turning out blind designs and exceeding the developer’s visual or graphical limits.
You may think you can request a revision of any project that fails to meet your expectations but doesn't this affect your team’s speed and efficiency? Continuous mistakes on the developer’s end due to miscommunication or misunderstanding translate to wasting time and money on a project.
When you understand coding, you can communicate your exact instructions and, thus, spend less time making corrections. This way, you’ll finish jobs faster and move on to the next, generating more profit and solidifying your reputation with clients. Getting it right the first time makes for a general increase in productivity, not to mention no one loves incessant mistakes and reviews.
A complete understanding of user experience is a UI/UX designer’s key responsibility. You must be able to research a user’s problem and think up logical design solutions to that issue.
The analytical and problem-solving nature of coding provides deeper insights into addressing user challenges and enhancing reasoning skills. Of course, this doesn’t imply that you’ll be a bad designer without coding; many successful UI/UX designers have zero coding knowledge. But, it will strengthen your ability to see the smaller, more manageable problems within a huge, complex task.
You may currently enjoy your UI/UX profession, but remember, many ponder how to switch to other careers after garnering years of experience in a field. A new career path presents a new challenge and more excitement in your tech journey. Because design and development are closely related, coding may pique your interest over time.
Now, having coding skills equips you with any possible future changes to the development field. If you ever decide to become a full-time developer, you’ll find it easier to pick up programming languages and more complex principles with these basics mastered. On the other hand, starting from scratch will be more time-consuming, painstaking, and require additional commitment.
Learning how to code as a designer increases your value to employers because your ability to carry out two roles reduces the need to hire a developer. The more value you offer, the more your earning potential skyrockets.
It’s also worth mentioning that many top companies list fundamental coding skills in their requirements for a UI/UX designer. Although this isn’t the norm, having these skills puts you in the ring for such roles and gives you an edge when competing for regular design jobs.
Additionally, coding helps you become more analytical and a better problem-solver, so you'll inevitably see improvement in your design process. This extra experience increases your chances of getting promoted or moving up the ranks. Thus, if you’d like the title of “Senior Design Lead” someday, coding may help you achieve your goal.
Although this doesn't apply to a few gifted individuals, most must focus on one skill and fine-tune it to gain mastery. Programming is an intricate field, and juggling these two worlds without a detailed strategy can be more detrimental than useful to your design career.
You’ve seen a handful of the numerous reasons why understanding how to code benefits UI/UX designers. So, what level of coding knowledge is required to prevent future confusion? We’ll get into it below.
HTML (or Hypertext Markup Language) is the basic building block of the web. In other words, it’s used to write what the browser shows or displays and forms the main content you see online.
An introduction to HTML will teach you to understand better how your elements are placed and the final product on your user’s screen. As previously emphasized, this inevitably helps you make more realistic designs and also enables you to code your work personally if you decide to.
Note that despite its name, HTML isn’t a programming language and is remarkably easy to learn.
While HTML determines what goes on your web page, CSS (or Cascading Style Sheets) enhances its aesthetic appearance. As the name implies, CSS styles and breathes life into a typically bland webpage.
HTML and CSS are the most important coding skills to understand, as they majorly implement your UI designs. Visual elements like color and shape and the more practical parts of your design are handled using them. A good grasp of both will help you visualize the exact outcome of your work.
Here’s where your main task in coding lies. While HTML and CSS aren’t programming languages, JavaScript is very much so and is among today’s top programming languages. Its use and applications are countless in programming, scripting, and creating animations and interactive UX prototypes.
JavaScript adds functionality to a webpage and can change your style, positioning, and more. You’ll also need it to impressively model your design for developers and clients, especially for your more complex work. Keep in mind that JavaScript runs deep and is pretty much endless, so unless you’re ready to be a full-time developer, you only need the basics.
Learning is essential for growth, so acquiring only primary design skills isn’t enough and will do nothing for you. The more in-depth knowledge you possess about your design field, the faster you progress and thrive. By mastering coding and other technical skills for UI/UX design, your career will surely be on the upswing.
Joshua is a staff writer at MUO who’s been passionate about technology since 2018. Starting in 2021, he’s been sharing his expertise on career navigation in the tech industry through his writing. Joshua previously worked as a social media manager but has since pivoted to freelance writing, intending to also build a career in UX writing. In his free time, you can catch Joshua diving into random topics or experimenting with new recipes.


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