This article was published on September 23, 2017

Why designers should learn to code — or at least consider it

Why designers should learn to code — or at least consider it
Stefan Miodrag
Story by

Stefan Miodrag

Stefan is a product designer serving in fields of front-end development and human-computer interaction. Stefan is a product designer serving in fields of front-end development and human-computer interaction.

It’s an old question: should designers code? And it gets a lot of people riled up whenever brought up in a conversation.

So, why are we still talking about it?

Well, there’s a few reasons as to why, but it’s mostly because of the reality that, now more than ever, companies are searching for designers that understand HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Hold on.. so does that mean I need to learn coding now too, on top of my design qualifications? Not exactly, but there’s definitely some good reasons for why you should at least consider it.

Understand the limitations

Not just from a technical perspective, but also from a time and economical aspect. Although you might have a deadline for when the design should be completed, you shouldn’t feel peace of mind when you’re handing off the final design files, because believe it or not; developers also have deadlines.

Understanding how developers would approach implementing your design will help keep it easy for them to work with, save time, and prevent any unnecessary reworks.

Speak their odd language

Being comfortable in explaining your thoughts to developers, making it easier for them to turn your design into what you’ve envisioned.

You’ll also be able to bring forth concerns that you might have, ask for specific feedback, and understand what’s being asked of you. Plus, it’ll make you everyone’s favourite designer — which is a valuable position.

Improve your designs

Understanding the basics of development will benefit you in several ways when designing, such as considering all the stages of its creation and implementation.

You’ll be able to take in consideration things that you’ve might have otherwise overlooked, like loading times, code complexity and code maintenance.

It’ll help you make decisions easier, and they’ll also be backed up with technical and legitimate reasons, rather than being based on personal conclusions. Of course this could also be done by asking a developer for their opinion, however this way you’ll save yourself the trouble of walking over to their desk or bug them on Slack — isn’t that great?

Become more valuable

Learning to code will give you the power to turn your designs into fully working prototypes that can be used as a foundation. Animate interactions of your design using CSS and JavaScript, or by using Framer’s CoffeeScript.

Or, you could even use your newfound abilities to build and launch a product. If that doesn’t interest you, don’t worry, it’s still a valuable asset that your current, or future employer will value.


So, to sum up:

A person can design without coding; however it’s definitely an added bonus which might help you in several ways and could potentially make you a better designer.

It’s all about the knowledge of how to construct, develop and produce smart products, and how to use materials that matter. I believe that a lot of people take the question too literary.

No one’s asking you to make the finished product. Leave it to the developers to do the assembly. It’s for you to expand your current skillset, that’s all. It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve ever considered learning to code, you should definitely do it.

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