From UX designer to web developer

Nearly 5 years ago, I started my first day at Integrity as a UX/UI Designer. As someone fresh out of college, I was thankful to find an agency that took a chance on someone with zero professional experience, but a huge love and passion for user experience design. Over the years, I’ve tried to push myself to be a better designer and teammate. Two years ago, I nervously decided to try my hand at front-end custom web development in hopes that it would help improve my skills as a designer.

With the support of Integrity behind me, I began my adventure into the world of coding. I was eager to learn a new skill and apply that knowledge across all phases of a project. From discovery, to design, and finally to development, I could see that even the smallest amount of front-end knowledge could help me better plan and estimate.

I’ve learned a lot along this journey, and I am excited to learn even more. Here are my top three reasons why learning to code will make you a better user experience designer:

1. It helps you know your limitations (and possibilities) from the beginning

Part of being a great web designer, as well as great teammate, is knowing your limitations up front. What’s the design budget? More importantly, what’s the development budget? Knowing your budget is one thing, understanding it is another. If you don’t know what goes into building a website, a set number of ambiguous hours on a document will only go so far. Learning even the basics of front end development can go a long way.

Not only is it important to know your limitations, it’s important to know your possibilities. The internet is a generous place with endless resources on HTML, CSS, Javascript and everything outside and inbetween. With that, comes new possibilities for features that you may have never thought were possible. CSS animations can take your design to a whole new level with just a few lines of code. In knowing your possibilities, you can prepare and budget.

2. It gives you a chance to change things up

For those of us right-brained creatives, we rarely get the chance to exercise the part of our brain that deals with numbers and logic. For myself, a chance to walk outside the gray area of creativity and into the black and white world of code allows my creative side to recharge and come back even stronger.

There are also benefits to working with team members you don’t usually work with on a day-to-day basis. You can learn a lot from shadowing a developer for a day. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll have some pretty amazing team members who are eager to jump in and help you learn the ropes. In return, you can teach them a thing or two about the design process … or some nifty photoshop tricks! If you and your team members are eager to learn and help each other, everyone wins.

3. It makes you more marketable

The industry of website design and development is extremely competitive. With more and more graduates learning the latest tricks and techniques in design and development each year, it’s extremely important to keep growing professionally. By gaining development skills on top of your design skills, you make yourself twice as marketable when you’re ready to move on to your next gig.

Increasing your skill set also allows you the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to build a website from scratch using my own designs. I’ve also been able to lend a hand to other projects that may not need design, but need development support. When you increase your skills, you become a more valuable member of the team.

At first, I was a little nervous and skeptical about taking on a new skill and a new role within Integrity, but I’m so glad I did. I’ve learned a lot in these two short years and I’m excited to keep learning. I consider myself very lucky to work for a company that encourages its employees to challenge themselves to continually grow personally and professionally.

If you want to work with a team that’s always growing and learning, drop us a line!


Originally published at integritystl.com on January 25, 2017.