Programmers who learn design fundamentals have a better understanding of how end-users will experience their app or software.
Experienced programmers and coders don’t always know basic design principles. They know how to write code, using one of many languages, and they know how to modify and test the applications they create, among other things.
It’s because most development teams include a bevy of professionals, who all work on the same project yet have separate tasks. Web developers, for example, might build up the infrastructure and backend, but they don’t necessarily create the visual elements and UI — designers and graphic artists do that.
Some programmers are experienced in design, and that’s a good thing, but not all developers cross those boundaries. If that describes you, it might be time to consider learning design.
Not only does it allow you to create better applications, but it also helps you understand the critical component of a successful project, the end-users.
Learn Design, Build a Better Product
While coding and designing are both key steps in the software and application development process, they are two separate practices.
Code vs Design
Design almost always comes first, while coding is the technical implementation of design techniques. Design is architectural and lays the foundation for an application, including the experiences it will provide.
Coding, on the other hand, specifically deals with building those applications.
Designers may also layout the logic, creating blueprints, if you will, for the entire application. It incorporates and explores elements like the user interface, main processes, and the foundation — such as databases and other requirements.
Most designers work with abstract concepts and use their imagination to create solutions. Programmers tend to be more logic-oriented.
By understanding design, programmers gain perspective not just into how the project will be developed, but also how the end-users will be experiencing it. Most importantly, it allows programmers to understand what challenges users may face, and how to mitigate them early on.
It’s important to remember that end users interact with and engage code through the visual elements. Every time they click or tap on a button, their actions are being interpreted through code.
There are a lot of articles that talk about designers learning to code, but the opposite is true, as well. Programmers and coders who learn design principles become significantly more valuable to the companies and projects they’re working on.
How Coders Can Learn Design
Learn the basic terminology and initial design concepts first, and then work your way up from there. An excellent way to become more familiar with design is to follow influential designers, whether on social media or by reading their blogs.
Spend some time looking into the history of design, and understand the greatest designers in the field. What made them so good? What were their philosophies? How can that apply to your work and future projects?
You can also study other designs by looking at online marketplaces, browsing well-designed websites and software, and beyond.
Learn Design Online with Free Classes
Just like learning a new language, you can also find a host of free design classes online at places like Udemy, Codecademy, and SkillShare.
There are also tutorials and guides on YouTube. TastyTuts, Design Course, and Learn Digital Design are some good channels to check out.
What Other Skills Are Worth Learning?
Besides learning and understanding design, what are some other valuable skills that coders should learn?
Here are just a few valuable skills that will improve your coding or programming career:
- Time management
- Patience and perseverance
- Anything creative (writing, drawing, graphic art, etc.)
- Computers and related technologies
- Software engineering
By improving these skills you will also be opening doors to new career opportunities. It’s a lot like learning a new language, except you’re expanding your skillset even more.
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