As a UI designer, your primary goal is to ensure that the look and feel of the user interface is visually stimulating, attractive, and cohesive. So, is it necessary to know how to code to do your job properly? This is a confusing question. In the design community, most of us wear multiple hats. So, it isn’t unusual to find UI designers who know coding. But how far is this knowledge of coding necessary, or even helpful for a UI designer?
Do UI designers need to code? No, a UI designer doesn’t need to code to do his/her job. A UI designer can successfully create interface designs without writing a line of code. However, it does not hurt to know how to code. In fact, it can help a UI designer to understand the scope and limitations of what is possible to develop. So, we can say that although UI designers need not code, this skill can help their careers.
If you are unsure of whether you should learn to code or not, let me help you make your decision.
Read on to understand why coding isn’t essential for UI designers and find out what are the perks when you know it.
Two Main Reasons Why UI Designers Need Not Code
I already mentioned that UI designers do not have to code to do their daily jobs.
It is certainly not needed, and here are two main reasons why…
Reason 1: UI Designers Are Expected To Design The UI First, Not Code It
UI, or User Interface, is the graphical interface that connects users to an application. It includes buttons, images, data entry boxes, sliders, and everything else on the screen that the users interact with.
As a UI designer, your job is to decide how all these elements appear on the final screen. So, you should choose the colors, sizes, and shapes of interactive elements for optimal results.
To succeed in your task, you need a strong design mindset to identify and link the expectations of the business and end-users. Only then will you be able to design an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly interface.
Since a good design directly impacts user experience, your primary goal will be to create a mind-blowing UI spec that works for the user and the business. Meanwhile, it is the developer’s responsibility to take this spec and develop the interface using HTML, CSS, and other related technologies.
Although it is normal to have some overlap between a UI designer and developer’s role, UI designers should mainly focus on the design part. The responsibility for the implementation of the design lies primarily with the developer. So, UI designers needn’t worry too much about it.
Reason 2: Prototyping Tools No Longer Force You To Code
Making a prototype is very important in UI design. The prototype is a medium to communicate the UI designer’s idea to the developer and other members of the implementation team.
So, prototyping helps to transfer a UI designer’s vision or idea into something tangible that can be understood by a third person. Such a model allows the designer to test parts or entire UIs and their interactions to see if they are feasible.
Prototypes also help to make sure that all the members involved in different stages of developing the product are on the same page. This helps to preserve design consistency.
Ideally, UI designers do not need any knowledge of coding to create prototypes that communicate their vision and ideas. You can use something as simple as a pen and paper to express ideas.
However, a lot would be lost in translation with this type of low-fidelity models. So, you will need to use prototyping tools that will help you to create mock versions of a final product.
Older prototyping software required some extent of coding knowledge to create better models that could communicate a UI designer’s ideas.
Fortunately, with the UI prototyping space booming, newer tools are appearing on the scene every day. These modern tools allow for higher levels of design without any need for coding.
However, high-fidelity prototypes have lots of functions and interactions and contain rich design elements, visual effects, and better testing options. So, today’s prototyping tools use simple inbuilt elements to develop complex prototype models.
Mockplus, for instance, allows UI designers to complete entire design projects using built-in icons and components. It uses a simple drag-and-drop mechanism to achieve various interactions. Hence, tools like Mockplus will allow you to focus entirely on the design aspects without having to bother about a single line of code.
Nevertheless, knowledge of coding presents its own benefits. Let us explore this in greater detail.
Interesting Further Reading:
- How I Designed the Home Page of Kandan Web Chat Client
- What is a Wireframe – The Complete Guide to Wireframes
One Main Reason Why UI Designers Need To Learn Code
As a UI designer, you can have a successful career without coding knowledge. Lack of this skill will not render you redundant in the job market. Nevertheless, coding can give you a competitive advantage over your peers.
Being a multi-skilled designer is a big advantage in this industry since boundaries between different job profiles blur as you climb the ladder.
At various stages, UI designers will have to work closely with developers to bring their design ideas to life. In such situations, you can collaborate better with developers when you understand how they code.
However, it isn’t necessary to be an expert. Even with a limited understanding of coding, you can understand a developer’s perspective better. Once you realize the limitations of code, you can correctly gauge what is possible and impossible to develop. This will help you to design and innovate in the right direction and waste less time on fruitless discussions.
Since designers are usually in direct contact with clients, knowing technical details will also enable you to propose practical and feasible solutions to your clients.
Another factor to consider is that many companies, especially in the start-up stage, prefer designers who have a good idea of how coding works. This additional skillset gives you the ability to tackle a wide range of projects and take on more responsibilities.
So, knowledge of coding may throw open more career opportunities.
Nonetheless, coding is a serious business and takes time and dedicated efforts to master. If you are curious about how things work at a fundamental level, the vast world of coding will interest you. You may like to pursue coding if you enjoy designing at a technical level and understand how HTML and CSS work.
Recommended Further Reading: UX and UI Designer Salaries – Stats From Multiple Different Sources
You now know that coding is serious work, and it isn’t suitable for everyone. UI designers should code only if they want to; it is not a direct requirement for design profiles. Acquiring this skill entirely depends on your personal interest and whether you have the inclination to master it.
However, designers who code or at least have basic knowledge of how coding works enjoy certain perks. Firstly, they are better equipped to understand the development process and come up with realistic solutions. They also will be able to assess the implementation team’s limitations and communicate their expectations clearly.
Finally, hybrid UI designers are assets to organizations that require experts with multidisciplinary skills. Basic knowledge of code will enable you to explore more career opportunities and will be an asset to your career in the long run.