Why designers should code

As we all know, the world is going digital, and everything around us is more technically advanced than before. Developing digital services has become both easier and harder at the same time in this competitive landscape we’re living in.

As a designer, answering your mom “what you actually” do has become a lot harder than before. New flexible ways of working and cross-functional teams have blurred out the lines on what we work with, especially in the fields of media and technology, in which the question is, should designers today be ready to participate in copywriting, user research and branding, when developing a service?

As a designer, answering your Mom “what you actually do” has become a lot harder than before.

Design is highly connected to the logic (read: code) behind the services, as without working code or intuitive design the system won’t work properly. Therefore, generalist full-stack designers and developers are in high demand on the market. These people are the ones that build the services and make them available to the masses. On top of that, learning programming online is blossoming.

Certainly, it should be considered a great asset for teams to have technically oriented designers in the service development, who understand what happens under the hood.

Three reasons why designers should code (or at least know how to):

1. Recognize limitations better

As a designer, you have to know what customer needs are being addressed and have an understanding on what potential technical restrictions there are. In developing any digital service you’ll be looking into both technical and design possibilities and it will no doubt help if you know how to code.

When learning new things, you’ll be keeping up to date with technology and follow trends that can open new possible solutions to the things you’re developing.

2. Communicate efficiently with developers

People might have an old way of looking at programmers, those lonesome creatures working in a basement without seeing sunlight for days.

It’s not hard to communicate with programmers if you know how to convey your message and approach them the right way. Equally important is to use a language they understand (pun intended).

By using terms such as the cloud, database and cron job you’ll convince them you know what you’re talking about. Approaching a programmer through instant messaging instead of more traditional email can also be a good way of getting attention.

When you understand technology, it will also be easier to explain technical aspects to other colleagues as well as the end user

3. Think outside the box

Programmers as well as designers are problem-solvers. The more logical you are in your thinking the better you will be at thinking outside of the box. This, combined with being able to challenge existing solutions, will help you optimize the services you’re producing.

If you’re a designer, I’m not suggesting that you change the things you do. Neither should you force yourself to learn how to program. I believe that even a little bit of knowledge of coding and understanding what it’s about is of great benefit. You shouldn’t be afraid to try it out. There is plenty of material online to get you started;  it might not be as hard as you think.

As a wise colleague of mine once said: “Relax. It’s just internet.”

This being said, are there any reasons not to try out some coding?

Originally published for Aller Media.
Thomas Granelund (Djupsjö