Hey Designer: if you don’t want to learn code, don’t.

The debate of whether UX/UI designers should learn to code has been going on for over a decade. If you Google it, you’ll get countless arguments on either side.

So why did I decide to write about it? What opinion could I offer that hasn’t been waxed poetically on already?

Well, it’s pretty simple: if you’re a designer who feels pressured to learn code and you dread the idea or tried to learn but were frustrated, then don’t do it. Don’t buy another “Build your first iOS app in 30 days” course. Put down the Javascript book. Stop trying to figure out what the fuck Node.js does. Give yourself permission to not give a shit about any of that.

Liberating isn’t it?


But if you decide not to code, you do need to step up your game in a few other areas:

  1. Create mind-blowing designs. You know what I’m talking about. Work and aspire to be the kind of designer you see on Dribbble where you simultaneously think, “Holy shit that’s awesome/I’m jealous/I’m inspired.”
  2. Master micro-interactions. Microinteractions are the little details that make great usability. O’Reilly has a book on it (albeit a little old but the basics are there), and this is a great website to get inspiration. Train yourself to habitually consider such interactions in every design you create. You’re solving problems after all.
  3. Use a damn grid. The same one your development team’s framework uses. Don’t get uppity that your vision doesn’t fit the grid. Grids are beautiful.
  4. Understand what’s feasible. Virtually anything is possible now, but is it feasible? How difficult/time-consuming are your design ideas to implement? Can they be simplified and still benefit the user in the same way? Can your dev team using existing UI libraries/components/plug-ins that can save time and only be slightly different than your intended concept? The only way to know — communicate with your developers.
  5. Be accommodating and ridiculously easy to work with. Designers are stereotyped as a fickle bunch. Break the stereotype and be the person everyone wants on their team. Be helpful. Get people the assets they need in the format they need them. Respond quickly to emails. Don’t brood, don’t sulk, and lose your ego. Communicate.

Follow these five principles and no one will care that you think a Class is something that you go to school for and a Function is an event you attend after work. You’ll be in demand, well-paid and sought after.

Want more advice you didn’t ask for? Follow me on Twitter or Dribbble.