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Experience Design

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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Molly Malsam

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