Designers shouldn’t learn how to code.
You often hear this statement going around the tech X/Twitter bubble:
“Designers should code.”
The intention behind it is good, but the delivery is off.
Why should designers learn how to code? It doesn’t make much sense. It’s not a part of their job. It’s the engineer’s job to make sure the code is great.
And they are right to think so. In parts.
Designers should understand the medium they are designing for
The same way a print designer has to understand how a printer works — the type of ink to use on a specific type of paper, or the amount of space the printer requires around their design so it doesn’t cut off —, a software designer has to understand how a computer/browser works.
Understanding the constraints of the medium you’re working for is essential for a great outcome.
Some of the constraints when designing for the web are: speed, accessibility, responsiveness, the box-model, and browser-specific features:
- Yes, you want the images to be crisp, and huge, but that might cost you on speed and performance.
- Yes, you want that crazy interaction that looks like it came from the future, but will it adhere to accessibility standards?
- Yes, you know there’s a new feature on Firefox to make your designs look prettier, but is it available across all different browsers? What’s the percentage of systems that support that feature?
Coding is not a part of a software designer’s job.
Understanding the medium is.