Should a Programmer Learn to Design?

I like this article (which I found via Sidebar.) We have many similarities such as age, Amigas, and that growing-up experience going from ‘only kid in my school who was interested in this stuff’ to ‘oh, here are people who actually have talent!’ I feel you are a kindred spirit.

I also love the question you pose in the article’s title and your opening statement. As a career UX designer I feel a growing resentment against the whole idea of ‘UX Unicorns.’ Individual designers are expected to do it all (research, design, code, strategize, juggle, clean toilets…) as though specializing in one area of design, or even the incredibly broad umbrella of design itself, isn’t enough. Yet people in other specialty fields (e.g. programming) are expected to stick to their narrow thing. It’s a disturbing trend bred of ignorance and misunderstandings about the nature of UX work and the value of design in general.

I do have one, big disappointment. You say you are working on a UX app, but all I see is another tool for UI design. Throughout your article you seem to conflate the terms ‘design,’ ‘UI,’ and ‘UX.’ These are three highly related but also very different things. If your app doesn’t somehow help user experience professionals conduct user research, analyze usability, improve accessibility, or synthesize data about user emotions, then please don’t call it a UX app. UX is about human experience, and graphic / visual design is only a part of the experience a person has with a product or service. Your app is merely a UI design tool, and is helpful for only a sub-set of UX work. Please consider naming it appropriately to accurately describe its function and avoid contributing to the confusion about what UX truly is.

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