Is Coding Experience Necessary for UX Design?

Do you need to be able to code to design well?

Photo by Danial Igdery on Unsplash

User Experience (UX) is the overall experience of a customer or user when navigating a website or when using an application. UX has become a key differentiator nowadays. It is one of the reasons why companies like Uber and Airbnb have had wild success. Not only were they solving a problem and creating value for their customers, but they were also easy to use and gave the user a great overall experience.

However, in a moment in history like the one we are living in, where technology is constantly changing and the market is acting accordingly, the ability to test the hypothesis in the market and make corrections as fast as possible is needed for companies to survive. The Minimum Valuable Product (MVP) concept is becoming more and more important, basically mandatory for companies in all industries. Not only this but digitalization and focusing on UX has also become paramount in this market climate.

As such, UX design is something that most companies have started to focus heavily on. Hiring developers and designers in order to make their product or service as approachable and easy-to-use as possible, whilst giving the customer a fresh feel for the brand and values behind it. And this can take a lot of time; time companies do not have anymore.

Although speed is necessary, normal procedures of coding can take longer than the fast-time frames needed to adjust things as quickly as the market needs it.

But, is there really any other option to developing interfaces, applications, and tools in the digital world than lengthy and complicated code?

The answer to this question is: .

There are two growing trends in UX design specially developed to keep up with this rhythm and become part of the RAD world — as in, Rapid Application Development world — those are: Low-Code and No-Code. They allow companies to become faster and more agile when designing UX solutions and applications, whilst achieving the same professional look, accessibility, and adaptability as with native code.

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

The two types of code you need to know about:

Low-Code is a way to shorten the time in which a website or mobile app will be delivered. Instead of taking tens of hours in ideation, design, implementations, deployment, and testing, it makes it all a matter of a couple of hours if not minutes.

The way it does this is by using instead of native code — hand-coded from the beginning — done by programmers, it allows developers and UX designers to use low-code platforms to create apps through a visual interface combined with model-driven logic.

Low-Code is a great option to use for those with some coding experience — although it does not have to be much. However, for those with absolutely no programming background, No-Code is a better approach.

The idea behind No-Code is to outsource every aspect of the project to an off-the-shelf solution. It uses pre-made application templates that can be used for many specific purposes. These platforms or applications are so easy to use that they are targeted to citizen developers, which means people with absolutely no coding background.

Despite being a great way to reduce times, the reason for implementing these tools still needs to be carefully considered and as with any tool, they need to be used correctly to get the results expected.

The greatest advantage they have is that they make the developing of an MVP extremely easy and cheap, and ask for no talent hire. However, these apps or platforms are very hard to customize since they are made to cater to a lot of different needs. They focus on solving one or two kinds of problems, and not all companies want or need this, not even on their MVPs.

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Focus on Design

As you can see these two disruptive trends that limit the need for coding necessary, are becoming more and more popular due to their easy-to-use nature. They help create efficient layouts with well-thought-out systems of transitions with an attractive, clear, and usable visual design that focuses on testing solutions in as little time as possible.

The need to focus less on coding allows UX designers to focus on what they do best: design. Creating a great user experience goes beyond the program or code used, it’s a whole discipline that takes into account human behaviour, human instinct, technology, colour theory, aesthetics, accessibility, and product understanding.

Although software is vital for pretty much everything people do nowadays, the quality of the code is only secondary to the user experience when it comes to a project or business actually succeeding. This makes it a top priority to focus on better design and leaving coding to those that really need to be good at it.

Technical Literacy

As talked through this article, there really is no need for you to learn how to code in order to be a UX designer. However, the main thing that Low or No-Code tools and the like will help you with is to spend more time on the design part of the job.

Nonetheless, it can be beneficial to acquire some minimum level of technical literacy for a few reasons. It will allow you to work with the developers and programmers side by side. You will be treated as someone that understands what they are communicating and will have some sort of valid input on the discussion. Making your job and theirs that much more efficient, and just better.

Additionally, a very valuable aspect of being technically literate is that you will understand how information works. This will allow you to understand better how data is accessed, organized, and manipulated, as well as how to use this data in better ways that will help your user and business have a better experience.

In a world where Microsoft predicts that 500M new apps will be built in the next five years — more than all the apps built in the past 40 years — a quick, effective, and fast way to make solutions and test them has become paramount for businesses of all industries. Not only that, but the demand for mobile apps is growing at a rate 5-times faster than IT departments can deliver, which means that the need for ways to make those with less coding skills able to produce such products is very much welcomed.

Trading off time that you would spend learning how to code and really becoming not just a great designer but a great developer might not be very realistic. After all, not everyone can do everything perfectly. If you focus too much on developing the necessary skills for coding, you might not have the time to develop the necessary skills to be a great designer.

If you want to be an extremely successful designer you might have to really ask yourself what skills do you need to do so. Maybe you do need some knowledge in coding, but maybe you need to focus more on understanding colour or human psychology. Maybe you need to better understand human patterns, etc. Whichever you decide to focus on making it a well-thought-out plan is key to choosing the kind of designer you want to be.

What we do know is that to be a great UX designer you don’t need to have a programming or coding background.

Accessibility Evangelist & Certified UX Wizard. Perfecting the art of humanizing technology at CityWide Automation— more on HasnainBakhtiar.com