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Should Designers Code?

Should designers know how to code? It seems lately I can’t get away from this question. I’ve read countless blog posts and online discussions answering the question in varying levels of detail and with differing opinions. Though not a reliable sampling, anecdotally I’ve noticed that job descriptions for User Experience or Visual Designers lately have almost always included the ability to create presentation-layer code as a requirement or a nice-to-have. A colleague recently shared a recruiter’s description of a job’s requirements: “Mix between development and design; wants someone who is more technical with an artistic sense that can create a cool UI.”

Here are a couple of other snippets from job descriptions:

  • …Also uses JSPs.  Hooks up business logic using JSP (exposure to J2EE environments would be a plus, but they will not be asked to code in J2EE)”
  • “I’m looking for a designer with experience with HTML, visual design and retail/html email experience.”
  • “Experience with hand coding HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.”
  • “Web Development (HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript) and Flash experience a plus”

I’m not going to add my 2 cents on the topic because I feel many of the industry’s top names have expressed their reasoning quite thoroughly. If I had to vote I’d go for the old standby: “it depends”–on where you work or want to work, what your definition of “code” is, how much free time you have to commit, your future career goals, etc. Rather, I wanted to provide links to some of the posts and discussions as a roundup of recent opinions. Enjoy!

 

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One thought on “Should Designers Code?

  1. dbland

    Nice. Understanding of the medium you are designing for makes you a better designer. If you design for print, you don’t necessarily need to be able to operate an offset press, but understanding how the device works improves your thought process and creativity – my 2 cents.

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