Should designers code… or should developers design?

We all know that one of the most discussed topics in the tech community is whether or not designers should code. There are tons of articles out there about the subject, nonetheless I still see new ones popping up every now and then.

If you just start typing on Google “Should Designers…” guess what it’s the first result to appear?

But tell me now, how many articles have you seen about developers who should design instead? Myself, not even a handful.

It kind of bugs me that while designers are expected to know how to code, nobody really expects developers to have a good understanding of design principles. You might as well have heard some of them easily getting away with the following sentence: “I don’t have a good eye for design and I don’t understand how to make pretty things. I just know how to code”. On the opposite, it comes as a shock when designers admit their lack of coding skills.

Legend has it, every time a designer says “I can’t code” there is a unicorn somewhere that falls down dead.

My two cents

Ok, I’ll admit it: I can’t code. However, I don’t think I’m less good than the others who can, neither I should feel ashamed because of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that designers should just worry about moving pixels around without knowing how things work under the hood. Designers should be familiar with the development process as it will help tightening the gap between design and development.

What I’m trying to say is that, maybe, we are just focusing our attention on the wrong things to learn. The question shouldn’t be whether designers should learn how to code or developers how to design: what we should really learn is how to have a better understanding of each other’s job and gain mutual respect.

In my other post, I already highlighted how designers and developers are no more two worlds apart as they both work towards the same goal of creating the best possible product. The distinction is merely in how we label ourselves as, at the end of the day, we all design and we all develop something.

Designers make decisions upon the look and functionality and visually implement them. Developers make decisions that will shape the outcome of the designs and implement them. We’re all problem-solving.

So, instead of putting a lot effort into learning the intricacies that lie in the fundamentals of the implementation — which the person next to us already knows better — let’s just put our energy into the problems we’re solving.

So, back to the original questions.

Should Designers code?

I don’t think it’s necessary. Of course, if they do it’s good for them but I don’t see it as strictly binding. They should instead learn how developers work and how they think to make the collaboration smoother.

Should developers design?

They already do. Every day, they show creative thinking by writing code that will ultimately shape the outcome of a design.

Let’s learn how to appreciate each side for what they contribute and we’ll all be the better for it.

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