Should Designers Be Able to Code?

This seems to be a bit of a hot topic on Twitter right now so here’s my take.

The definitions of designer and developer and where you draw the line between the roles is a bit of a nonsense. In reality you can’t box things like this. It’s about the individuals and what skills they have and what fits your team. Overlaps in skills are not a problem, gaps are. So, the handover points will naturally surface out of what works for the team. That said, I do have some more specific thoughts about what might kinds of coding might empower a designer.

I’m assuming we’re talking about designers who already write HTML and CSS and what level of JavaScript they should know or learn. A designer who works in a graphics editor or prototyping environment clearly has a different skill set.

Knowing some basic DOM manipulation techniques can really help to add some life and interaction to designs – “Interaction Design”.

  1. Being able to select a DOM element with document.querySelector() is a good starting point.
  2. Basic event handling with .addEventListener('click', handler) is useful as it allows you to add actions.
  3. Handling events means learning how to write a very basic named function.
  4. Finally being able to toggle properties like hidden and disabled or add/remove/toggle items fromĀ classList enables you to design for lots of different states within the same document.

I think just these few basic steps will enable a designer to achieve a lot more in their designs.

Most beginner’s JavaScript courses I’ve seen seem to start with constructing objects but this is far less useful for UI work. Designers probably don’t need to worry about objects, arrays, classes and the whole data side. Static data is generally sufficient for communicating the design and interactions.

The Web 2.0 concept – the basics

The days of having your website managed by a web designer or design company are now on their way out.

In the past websites were a one-way read only process, an online brochure which people visited to get information. Now, with the whole concept of Web 2.0, it’s all a two-way interactive process with customers or fans playing an active part in a website.

Now, not only can you update all of your web pages or blogs yourself but you can also allow visitors to comment and discuss your website’s content all over the internet, reaching far greater numbers of people than ever before.

This two-way interaction not only improves communications with customers or fans but actually helps shape your products/services by allowing you to see where the demand is – who is buying and what they really want.

With Web 2.0 your web presence goes way beyond what you put on your site. You now need to look at review sites, forums, online communities, social networking communities – in short, anywhere where people can make reference to you.

When you’re looking to launch a new web project make sure it fits into the world of Web 2.0 or risk being left behind.

Want to know more?

I recommend O’Reilly – What is Web 2.0?