Do I have to know programming to be a UX/UI designer?

One of the most popular questions among people looking to become a UX/UI designer is: do I need to know coding to be a UX/UI designer? Or, in other words, does UX/UI design require programming knowledge?

To clear up these doubts, it’s important to understand the differences between a UX/UI designer and a web developer, so let’s take a closer look at them.

What is the difference between a UI/UX designer and a programmer?

To understand the differences between these two roles, and to truly understand if programming for UX/UI Design it’s a must, let’s start by defining each role.

UX/UI Designer

The UX/UI designer is responsible for planning the user experience (UX or User Experience) in a digital product, whether it’s an app, software, or website, and for designing and prototyping the user interface (UI or User Interface) to make it easy, functional, and intuitive for the user.

The UX/UI designer brings together business strategies with user needs, which is increasingly demanded due to the growing digitalization in many business areas.

There are experts in devising and designing effective, useful, efficient, and attractive products in what is known as “user-centered design”. But in addition, their knowledge contributes to the growth of the product and the interaction of its users, which makes them very important assets for companies.

Now, what skills and knowledge do a UX UI designer need to carry out these functions?

Skills needed in UX design

For UX design, the designer must have knowledge and skills that allow them to create an attractive, comfortable, and appealing experience for users. This involves prior research, usability testing, applying content strategies, and, above all, understanding the needs and habits of the user.

Even soft skills like empathy, social skills, or knowledge of psychology can be of great help in this branch of UX/UI design.

Skills needed in UI design

For UI design, the designer must have knowledge and skills that allow them to design a user interface that is in line with UX and is also functional, easy to use, improves the appearance of the product, and increases user engagement.

This involves knowledge of graphic design, drawing, illustration, color theory, photo and/or video editing, or typography, among others. In addition, they should be familiar with UI design and prototyping software such as Adobe XD or Figma.

As you can see, the work of the UX/UI designer is to deliver a tested and validated prototype of the user experience and interface. The prototype is not the final product, but a model of what the final product will be once created.

At the end of the UX/UI designer’s functions, what is obtained is the final design of a product that is not implemented or created, and that the programmer or web developer is responsible for.

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Programmer or Developer

The front-end programmer or developer is responsible for carrying out the design and implementing it through coding and programming in the final software, app, or website.

Now, what skills and knowledge do they need to carry out these functions?

Perhaps at this point, you’re wondering: but if the UX/UI designer has to create a prototype, isn’t it necessary for them to know how to code?

The short answer is: it is not strictly necessary. That is to say, the UI designer has to create the prototype, but the responsibility for implementing it falls on the programmer. The beauty about technology is that we now have software that allow UX/UI designer to create and design prototypes without coding.

It is clear that both parties must work closely together, with the developer following the guidelines of the designer, although in many cases the developer may also provide solutions to a problem that may arise during the implementation of the design.

Therefore, should designers know how to code?

No, you don’t need to know how to code to be a UX/UI designer. You may have heard that user interface design requires programming, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in most cases, what is happening is that design is being confused with programming.

So remember that the UX/UI designer is responsible for ideating and planning the user experience, as well as designing user interface prototypes, while the programmer is the one who takes those designs and makes them a reality through coding and web programming.

However, it should be noted that a UX/UI designer with basic programming knowledge can use it to their advantage when designing and, above all, it will be useful for facilitating communication with the web development team during the implementation phase of their design. It is not something that is essential to becoming a UX/UI designer and being excellent at your job, it will simply serve as another support.

But what if a UX/UI designer wants to study programming or vice versa?

That would be great, in fact, in many small companies, both tasks are usually assigned to the same employee, something that if they do not have the necessary training, can end up being very expensive since:

  • A basic UX/UI designer does not know how to code.
  • A basic web programmer does not know how to design.

So if you want to train in both areas, you will have the opportunity to offer a much more complete professional profile. However, both areas require a lot of time and effort, so the ideal is to divide the work among a team of professionals where each one is responsible for a particular area.

Shirly Nowak
Shirly Nowak es una experimentada Project Manager y Copywriter, con más de 5 años de trayectoria, en los que ha podido trabajar en proyectos de diferentes sectores.