Why You Should Learn To Code As A Designer…. And Why You Shouldn’t.

Brandon Rodriguez
15 min readFeb 6, 2024


Day 02 Cover Image

Should you learn to code as a designer?

Here’s the question that many designers around the world ask themselves and struggle with answering. This question is tough to answer because the question itself sparks more questions than answers. Should I learn to code? How will I learn? Is it worth it? How long will it take to learn? What will I do when I know how to code? Will it help my career? These are all valid questions and tough ones to answer. While I can’t give concrete answers to these questions as everyone’s situation is different, I can go over the pros and cons and reasons why you may want to consider learning to code as a designer, and reasons why you may not. In this article, we’re going to go over those reasons on both sides. After reading this, you should be able to make a better decision on whether or not you want to embark on the coding journey.

Why you SHOULD learn to code as a designer

Let’s first go over the reasons why you SHOULD learn to code as a designer. These are things that will make you look up and nod your head. The kind of thing you do when something is making sense and you’re agreeing with something. There are lots of reasons why you may want to learn to code as a designer. We’ll take a look at a list of pros and then we’ll go into each of them in more detail.

Why you should learn to code as a designer — The pros

  • Enhance collaboration with developers
  • Better Handoffs
  • Greater control over final product
  • Empowerment to create realistic prototypes
  • Increased job opportunities and versatility
  • Understanding feasibility and constraints
  • Personal growth and expanded skillset
  • Better understanding of digital mediums
  • Autonomy & flexibility in freelance projects

Enhanced Collaboration with Developers

Understanding coding principles will allow you, as a designer, to communicate more effectively with developers. This shared language can lead to better collaboration, more efficient project workflows, and a deeper mutual understanding of constraints and possibilities in both design and development. A lot of time can be spent on re-designs due to designers not understanding technical limitations or how something done in Figma in seconds can take hours in code. Hours that the project may not have to give and be in the budget. Knowing how to code as a designer can help eliminate some of this. Just like when people from the marketing department assume you can do the entire UI/UX process for a project in one day, designers sometimes make the mistake of thinking the development team can implement all of the ideas from the design team and in a quick way. Having a better understanding of the code that goes into building the things handed off from the design team can minimize misunderstandings and enhance collaboration.

Better Handoffs

By knowing how to code and understanding how the developers on your team will take your designs and build them, you will understand the most important information and assets to give in a handoff. A lot of times as designers there’s so much we can provide in a handoff and we don’t always know if we’re providing our developers with the best and most useful information. There’s sometimes this feeling of ‘did I give them enough?’ ‘Did I give them the correct things they needed?’ ‘Are they just saying I gave them everything they needed to just simplify things?’ As designers, we sometimes spend hours working on deliverables for a handoff and what we deliver still isn’t ideal for the developers and what they were looking for. Meanwhile we could’ve given them exactly what they wanted & needed in just half the time, if we just had a better understanding of code and their workflow. Knowing how to code would change this for the better.

Greater Control Over Final Product

By learning to code, designers gain the ability to directly implement their vision, ensuring that the final product closely aligns with their original design. This skill reduces reliance on developers for minor changes, enabling quicker iterations and refinements. This kind of falls in with giving better handoffs to the development team. If you know how to code your design, you can provide the development team with everything they need to implement your design perfectly. How many times have you sent off deliverables to the development team just to see the final product look like a watered down on-sale version of your designs? If you have a better understanding of how they’re going to build your designs, you can give them everything they need and ensuring a better result for the final product.

Empowerment to Create Realistic Prototypes

Coding skills will enable you to build interactive prototypes that go beyond Figma and static images. These prototypes can better convey the look and feel of a final product, providing a more accurate representation of user interactions and transitions. You may never create your mockups in code in a professional setting, but having the ability to do it is great. Especially if you like to build side projects. And you may not be the one building your mockups in code, but knowing how to code would still allow you to take developed screens and pages and add in transitions and animations.

Increased Job Opportunities and Versatility

In the job market, designers who can code are often more attractive to employers. This dual skill set will make you a versatile member of any team, able to bridge the gap between design and development. In larger companies you will likely be hired for a specialized design role, but being a high-level designer with coding skills looks great on your resume. It’s definitely a skill you want to have if you’re working with smaller startups. I personally worked a hybrid design/code role with a fortune 500 company and it was one of the best experiences of my career. So, these roles do exist in larger companies as well and you may, like me, find them to be the roles you’re most interested in. You never know!

Understanding of Feasibility and Constraints

Knowledge of coding helps designers understand what is technically feasible. This awareness can lead to more informed design decisions, ensuring that the designs are not only aesthetically pleasing but also practical to implement. As mentioned in the first point, being able to understand the technical limitations as a designer can help save your team lots of time. Going into a technical review as a designer can start to become one of the worst parts of the job. Not knowing the feedback, the technical team is going to give, not knowing how much time total time you’re going to have to spend making adjustments, not knowing how much push back you’re going to have to give and where it makes sense to give it and where it doesn’t. It’s just a lot. And knowing how to code can really improve the experience of this step in the creative process. Less time in technical review meetings, more time creating.

Personal Growth and Expanded Skill Set

People working in all types of industries are considering learning how to code. It isn’t just the designers who work closely with developers. Learning to code is intellectually stimulating and ‘learning the language of computers’ adds a valuable skill to anyone’s toolkit. It fosters personal growth and opens up new avenues for creativity and problem-solving. Since designers work closely with developers, there’s more pressure we feel on ourselves to learn to code than people in other industries but take a step back and view it from the perspective on a non-designer for a moment. Being able to write and understand code is just a valuable skill in today’s day and age. As a creative, there’s lots of things we want to learn. Our mind is always going, thinking, creating, and wanting to add new skills that can help us bring our ideas to life and make us a better creative overall. Code is something that should be towards the top our list of things to learn. Not only will you be better at writing code, but you’ll also become a better thinker and problem solver in general. Things that will make you better in all walks of life.

Better Understanding of Digital Mediums

Coding gives designers a deeper understanding of the digital landscape. This knowledge is crucial in an increasingly digital world where user experience on websites and apps is paramount. Taking the time to understand how designs are built will give you a much better and deeper understanding about this industry as a whole. If you specialize in UI/UX design, you can’t really be one of the best without knowing a bit about how your designs and all of the projects you work on are being built. Knowing the process from end to end along with A-level UI/UX skills will make you one of the best in the industry.

Autonomy & Versatility in Freelance Projects

If you’re a freelance designer or interested in taking on freelance work now or in the future, coding skills can reduce your dependence on others, allowing for complete control over projects from start to finish, which can be both cost-effective and satisfying. Having both coding and design skills makes you much more versatile and you’re able to delegate the right work to the right people. Depending on the budget for a project and the skills of the people you have to help, you may want to delegate the coding or you may want to delegate the designing. Or a little bit of both. Having both code and design skills opens up this very useful flexibility.

Need to pick something

As designers, we NEED to be able to wear multiple hats and be good at multiple things. If you’re only good in one lane when it comes to design, you aren’t much of a designer at all. Drawing, pen tool, animation, calligraphy, graphics, UI, UX, coding, research, documentation, iconography, logo design, typography, branding, etc. There are so many subsets in the creative process and as designers we don’t need to be great at all of them (very hard to do), but we should have versatility and be able to do more than one thing at a high level. Pick what you want to be great at. If you’re a great graphic designer right now, you may want to stay on the graphics side and focus on logo design, branding, and calligraphy. Or you may want to head towards the other side and learn UI/UX design and then how to code. You may want to learn to draw. Heck, you may even want to become a better photographer if your projects involve lots of photos. The point is, you need to expand your skillset and pick something. A few things. If learning to code stands out to you most on the list for what you want to do, then start to learn. If not, then pick something else. But you need to pick something to compliment and support the area that’s your main focus and what you’re best at.

Why you SHOULD NOT learn to code as a designer

Just like there are plenty of reasons why you SHOULD learn to code as a designer, there are also plenty of reasons why you SHOULD NOT, or reasons you should at least consider if you’re looking at things objectively before just diving right into the hype of ‘learn to code!’ After reading the first half of this article you may think I believe all designers should learn to code and that I don’t see any potential downsides of doing so. This isn’t the case at all. While specializing in UI/UX design with a strong understanding and ability to code is the path I chose, it doesn’t mean I think everyone should choose this path. Since I chose this path and to focus mostly on these things, it means I sacrificed somewhere else and the things I sacrificed may be the things you personally want to actually focus on. There is no one size fits all approach. I gave you some positive reasons you may want to consider learning to code as a designer but now, let’s get into some reasons why you may NOT want to. Just like we did for the pros, we’ll take a look at a list of cons and then we’ll go into each of them in more detail.

Why you should not learn to code as a designer — The Cons

  • Specialization Focus
  • Time and Resource Constraints
  • Creative Focus
  • Stress and Burnout
  • Viewed as a Jack of All Trades, Master of None
  • Career Goals

Specialization Focus

In the world of design, specialization allows for a deeper understanding and mastery of specific design areas. As I went over in the pros section, there’s so many sub areas in design that even if we focused strictly on our design skills and nothing else, we still wouldn’t be able to master everything like calligraphy, typography, graphics, branding, logos, UI/UX, drawing, research, writing, etc. With all of these things and more falling under the digital designer’s umbrella, should we really look outside of these and take on the learning process for ANOTHER skill? When designers choose to focus solely on their area(s) of specialization, they can hone their skills to a higher degree of proficiency. This can lead to becoming an expert in a particular niche, which often translates to higher quality work, recognition in the field, and potentially higher demand for their specialized skills. Dedicating time to learn coding might detract from this focused effort on specialization, diluting their expertise in their primary field.

Time and Resource Constraints

Learning to code is a significant investment of time and resources. For designers, this means allocating hours that could otherwise be spent on advancing their design skills, exploring new design tools and trends, or working on projects that enhance their portfolio. The time and effort required to achieve proficiency in coding can be substantial, and for some designers, this investment may not align with their career objectives or personal interests. Balancing the demands of ongoing design work with the added task of learning to code can be challenging, especially for those working in fast-paced environments or handling multiple projects. With so many things for us to learn and with such a finite amount of time, learning to code just might not make the cut to fit in our schedule, and rightfully so.

Creative Focus

Designers often thrive in creative, visually oriented environments where they can experiment with color, layout, and visual storytelling. Coding, by contrast, is more structured and logical, focusing on problem-solving and functionality. For some designers, venturing into coding might mean spending less time in the creative ‘zone’ and more time dealing with code syntax and logic. This shift can potentially lead to a reduction in creative output or a feeling of detachment from their core creative passions, impacting their overall job satisfaction and creative fulfillment. It’s the classic left side of the brain vs the right side of the brain dilemma. While learning how to code to the point where you understand enough to code the layout of an app or website and becoming a full-blown software engineer are very different things, the former can still change your way of thinking to a point you don’t like.

Stress and Burnout

Juggling the responsibilities of design work with the added challenge of learning and applying coding can be stressful. The cognitive load of managing two distinct skill sets — especially if coding is not a primary area of interest — can lead to increased mental fatigue, decreased productivity, and even burnout. The pressure to maintain high standards in both design and coding without adequate time to rest and recharge can adversely affect a designer’s overall well-being and work quality. If you’re a good designer, you likely hold yourself and your quality of work to a high standard. If you want to learn to code, don’t be too hard on yourself and just have fun with it. Especially in the beginning when it’s all brand new to you and not making a whole lot of sense. Taking it seriously and trying to get good will add stress to your plate that you just don’t need. If you want to code professionally, then you’re just going to have to go through that stress to hit a professional level and it just is what it is. But, if you just want to learn as a hobby to add some skill and understanding to your toolbelt, try to just have fun with it and don’t be too hard on yourself. I can definitely say that if it wasn’t for me wanting to code at a professional level, I would’ve never gotten even close to the point I am at now. Learning to code can be very frustrating and stressful at times. Even if you’re trying to just have fun with it, it’s still going to give you some headaches along the way. And for some people, it’s understandably not worth it to them.

Viewed As a Jack of All Trades, Master of None

There is a risk that designers who split their focus between design and coding might not achieve deep expertise in either. In professional settings, being a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ can be a disadvantage, especially when competing with specialists who have dedicated their careers to mastering one specific area. Employers and clients often seek individuals with deep, specialized knowledge and skills in either design or coding. As a result, designers who are moderately good at both might find themselves overlooked for roles that require advanced expertise in a specific domain. The worst part is that even if you’re great at both design and code, most people won’t view you that way unless you work with them on a project and they’re able to witness it firsthand. Otherwise, most will automatically make the judgement that you’re just mediocre at both. This is funny because lots of hybrid designers/developers I know are better designers than most people I have worked with who are not senior level. I think it’s because people who take the time to learn both obviously invest lots of time into their craft and are very interested in this space typically seeing it as more than just a job. Meanwhile there are tons of designers out there who get into the field for a paycheck. There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just highlighting why I think a lot of hybrid creatives I’ve come across tend to be great at both. But even though they are great, the industry has a general view that if you know both how to code and how to design, you aren’t very good at either. Learning to code and adding it to your resume can make people view you this way.

Career Goals

The decision to learn coding should align with a designer’s long-term career goals. If a designer’s aspirations are firmly rooted in areas that do not require coding knowledge, such as print media, branding, advertising, video animation, etc. then learning to code might not be a worthwhile investment. Additionally, if a designer’s primary goal is to become a leader, strategist, or educator in the field of design, their time might be better spent on activities that build leadership skills, strategic thinking, and pedagogical abilities, rather than on learning to code. It really just depends on your unique goals and where you want to go both personally and professionally. Don’t just follow the ‘learn to code!’ hype. Think about where you see yourself in 5 years. Then in 10 years. Where does the ability to code fall into the picture?


I just threw a lot at you and gave you lots of information on the topic of whether you should learn to code or not as a designer. Long story short, there’s pros and cons to learning and it all comes down to your own unique goals and where you want to go both personally and professionally. There’s lots of things to consider, but you can simply put it as do you see yourself wanting to have the ability to code in your skillset in 5–10 years from now? And not just wanting it because I’m sure if anyone could snap their fingers and be a great coder, they’d do it I mean there’s no downside to that. But do you really want it? Is it something you’d look back on 5–10 years from now and be happy about the time and effort you invested to build up your coding skills?

For me personally, I love that I learned and that I stuck with it to get to the level I am at now. It was one of the best decisions i’ve ever made. But, that’s because it aligned with my goals and with what I wanted to do. I knew I couldn’t be great at everything when it came to design and code, but I wanted to be great at UI/UX design and front-end development. That was my goal and i’m still working on it to this very day and very moment. Some designers do not have that goal and would rather focus on other areas. That’s fine. Like I keep saying, don’t be pressured into learning to code just because that’s where a lot of the hype is right now. I didn’t choose to master logo design. I didn’t choose to master the ability to draw. I didn’t choose to master after effects. We still need people who are much better at these things than I am. If these things are calling you more than code, than invest your time into those instead. But, if you’re like me and you want to be able to code the things you design and have that versatility, then dive into coding. You may find that you love it and you never want to stop. You may find that you hate it and you never want to do it again. Just jump in and try. Find out for yourself. I hope this article helped you and I wish you all the best! Keep creating!