• barry saundersbarry saunders, over 6 years ago

    not really. Having lead design teams and hired designers, I'd take a talented designer who can design over a someone who's ok at design and code.

    Should designers know what code is? Yes.

    Should designers be able to articulate what can be done with code? Yes.

    Should designers be able to use code prototyping tools? Sure, if it's relevant.

    Should designers write production code? Jesus no. That's what engineers are for.

    14 points
    • xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx, over 6 years ago

      My thoughts exactly Barry, there are some really talented folks out there who can whip up great design and quality code blindfolded, but most of the time it's better to specialise and be really really good at one thing and have top-level knowledge of the wider skillsets.

      2 points
    • Sean LesterSean Lester, over 6 years ago

      I wouldn't even know how to find the time. At Match I'm constantly swamped with work, more than I could ever do and much of the polish that we really should be doing gets neglected for this reason — and I've done so well here largely because I turn around work fast.

      Maybe I can see where the people saying this kind of thing are focusing heavily on the Silicon Valley world or thinking somewhat futuristically about automation (as well as an arrogant assumption that since products mostly all use the same solutions now, that we've "figured design out" and design will just get more brainless)

      2 points
    • Tyler Cecchi, over 6 years ago

      I don't buy with this notion that if you know how to write code that makes you a mediocre designer.

      Code is just a medium. How you apply it is what matters.

      You can use it to solve computer science problems, architecture problems, product problems, or design problems.

      When we talk about someone who's "good at design", what are we really talking about? Someone who can create a great visual representation of something? Or are we talking about someone who can craft a great solution based off some information?

      While there may not be a ton of people who are good at creating visuals and code, there are a ton of people who craft great product solutions and write code, which if we're talking about "design" as more than aesthetics and visuals, makes that person a great designer.

      Visuals and code could be considered two mutually exclusive disciplines. However the ability to craft strategy, understand research, create solutions to business/product/user problems, and write code are not.

      2 points
      • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 6 years ago

        The core design skills:

        Requirements gathering

        Gap analysis

        Market analysis

        User analytics


        Product strategy


        Content strategy

        Information architecture

        Understand psychology and HCI

        Apply psychology and HCI

        Keep current with academic psychology (big psychology replication crisis going on right now)

        Do user research

        User interviews

        User ethnography and contextual inquiries

        Survey design

        Create personas

        Run workshops

        Sell a solution

        Scenario planning

        Create a product vision

        Do stakeholder management

        Do accessibility testing

        Do user testing

        Do heuristic analysis

        Understand motion design

        Understand colour theory

        Understand typography



        Create comps

        Art direction


        Increasingly: service design

        Now in my career I've known a couple of extremely talented people with maybe half of these skills. The reality is there's just too much in design alone for one person to know all of it. I've met a few people who can do maybe a quarter of this plus code, but they are extremely rare.

        Is it possible for one person to know all this? Sure.

        Is it possible for one person to know all this plus code? Again, sure. Unlikely, but possible. I've never met one, but I'm not ruling it out.

        Is it reasonable to expect a designer to learn to code? Sure, if they are specifically a production focused designer and someone else in the business is doing the research and strategy. I've met a couple of people like this. Often they're frustrated cause they just get treated as another developer and don't get to do the research and strategy aspects of design.

        Is it good advice for designers to learn to code? Well, if you like production focused work, there are a lot of startups and ad agencies who'll hire you.

        2 points
        • Tyler Cecchi, over 6 years ago

          If you see writing code as simply factory-type production work, then you're just as narrow minded as the person who looks at "design" as simply aesthetics.

          Gap analysis, Market analysis, User analytics, Specification, Product strategy, Information architecture, Understand psychology and HCI, Apply psychology and HCI, Sell a solution, Scenario planning, Create a product vision, Prototype, Wireframe, service design, Create personas, Do user research, User interviews, Do stakeholder management.

          These are not designer skills. They're used in design, but not exclusive to people who:

          Create comps, Art direction, Understand motion design, Understand colour theory, Understand typography

          Many of the things you listed are shared responsibilities among product, design and tech. Building great products is a team sport after all.

          1 point
          • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 6 years ago

            I don't see code as simply factory-type production work, but I've rarely seen a business that's structured to take advantage of creative coders. Every designer / coder I've met has been frustrated by being pushed into production work.

            I agree that building great products is a team sport. Good design comes from creative tension between people with different specialisations. Which is why the constant push to learn code instead of all those other design specialisations is frustrating!

            0 points
    • Mike MulveyMike Mulvey, over 6 years ago

      Thank you!

      1 point