Does UX Design Require Coding?

The work of a UX designer usually does not involve coding. Instead, as a UX designer, you are responsible for improving the user experience of a service or product like a website or app. Coding and actual engineering work is the last step in that process, and it is often performed by a separate, specialized worker, like a software developer.

It can be helpful to remember that a UX designer’s workload includes tasks such as: 

  • UX Research: Finding out the specific areas of a product that users are struggling with. This is accomplished by interviewing users one-on-one, sending surveys to larger groups, or discussing the product with focus groups—among other research techniques.
  • UX Testing: Watching a tester attempt to use the product as intended. You might ask them to complete several tasks and see if they are able to or not. 
  • Prototyping: This doesn’t necessarily require coding. For example, you can make a version of a website with a wireframing tool or even sketch it out on pieces of paper. The aim is to visualize how to improve the product based on information gathered in UX research. 
  • UX Strategy: Performing UX design work within a specific UX strategy framework. How will these changes to the product interact with the organization-wide UX strategy, business objectives, and style guide (which you may have written)?

As you can see, being a UX designer involves tasks that are not related to coding. Coding is a separate discipline that often requires problem-solving within coding languages. Once you perform the steps of UX design and propose specific, data-driven changes, a developer or software engineer is the one who actually implements them through said code. That is the final stage of the process, and it is where your hand-off skills and contextual knowledge will come into play

Can It Be Helpful to Know How to Code?

Is it ever useful to understand some UX design coding? Yes, it can be helpful. You can compare it to building a house: the architect needs to have some idea of what the engineer will be doing. They just shouldn’t spend all day at it, because they are responsible for other types of tasks. 

Similarly, a UX designer is responsible for research, testing, prototyping, UX strategy, and making decisions about design. If you spend too much time on complex coding, you won’t have time to interview users one-on-one, perform creative brainstorming, etc.

However, some UX designers enjoy coding. They learn a certain amount about Javascript, HTML, and CSS, which are simpler languages, while leaving the most difficult coding languages for coding specialists. A rudimentary knowledge of coding languages helps UX designers talk to coders more easily, develop UX design ideas that are realistic, and even get jobs where more coding is expected of UX designers.

If you are interested in free or low-cost resources for learning basic coding skills, check these out:

Good bootcamps, such as UX Academy, go through the handoff process from design to development, and also help you create designs that will be implementable by developers. This leaves you to focus on building your knowledge and skills in UX/UI instead.