Should designers code?
First off, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer for this. Each individual person has their focal skill sets and those that they want to pursue and expand.
Getting into the nitty-gritty of it all…
There are many different types of designers out there. I have grown into a lead design position from a user research background where I really understood behavior and emotion before I jumped into designing. Most designers have a similar story… they originally came from a visual design, marketing, product, phycology, [insert other awesome background that gives a cool new perspective] background before they found their design chops.
This creates different flavors of designers… which is a great thing! Each company is organized a bit different from the next. Finding the right arsenal of designers is important and how they fit into the product development ecosystem is just as important.
You need all types of background to make a great product. You need engineering minds, UX minds, visual minds, strategic minds, analytical minds, and so many more. But, it is important to remember one person can not be all things design and to it well, it takes a team. The team you build to create your products will have many different types of roles and those roles will have many different flavors.
For me, it simply boils down to that individual, what their background is, and what they want form their career. It may include coding… it might not. That doesn’t make them a bad or underachieving designer, it simple gives them a different flavor.
The great thing as a design leader, is that I get to pick and choose my own flavors, picking up a bit of this and that on the way. Those who hire designers (and all roles really), need to look for a complement to their product development ecosystem.
The last point I want to make is that it is still the job of the designer (and I would argue as people) to understand and empathize with those around us (just like we do with our users). In this scenario, we are talking about those who code. I expect empathy and respect from those I work with, we need to remember to give it back.