Should designers code?


One of the questions I often receive from my mentees, and my response is simple; I always ask them back.

And here are my questions:

  • If you've been working as a designer for several years, can you find the reasons why you should learn to code?
  • Do you often experience frustrating relationships with developers?
  • If it's not coding, what other skills will differ you as a designer from other designers?
  • Are you the type of designer interested in making side-projects such as design tool plugins, websites, or mobile apps?
  • How do you feel about coding? Do you have an interest, even just a little?

If your answer to the last question like "I don't like coding at all". Then why do you even still asking the question?

No standard says, "as a product designer, you should know how to code." Still, several companies list HTML/CSS knowledge as one of their requirements.

I would put aside coding if I were in my early career. There are more essentials skills for designers to master, like problem framing + solving, critical thinking, reasoning, and craftsmanship in visual/UI/Interaction design and prototyping.

There is nothing wrong with learning a new skill if you insist on learning how to code. I believe it will give you a new perspective on your design process and boost collaboration with developers.

It may give you confidence that you are well-understood what you design will align with the technical-side. It will set you apart from other designers; someone said a designer who can code is like a unicorn, a rare breed. It will also help you expand your network reach if you put your side projects on Github or Product Hunt sites.

I hope you find my opinions helpful to find the reasons why you should learn how to code.