Designing Happiness, Balancing Code and Creativity
Written on Dec 30, 2020

The ongoing debate surrounding whether designers should acquire coding skills has been a persistent topic within the industry, often sparking passionate arguments and attempts to persuade others to adopt one stance or another. Nevertheless, the answer to this complex question boils down to a matter of personal preference.

In the 43rd episode of the "Design Detail" podcast, Jon Gold offers a wise perspective on this matter: "Do what brings you happiness." If coding brings you fulfillment and delight, then by all means, embrace it. However, if it doesn't resonate with you, explore other skills that genuinely bring you joy. It's important to remember that there are numerous instances of accomplished designers who do not possess programming skills, so it's perfectly acceptable not to have coding in your toolkit.

The field of design encompasses a diverse range of skills, including visual aesthetics, people management, systems thinking, interaction design, storytelling, communication, writing, and research. No single designer is expected to excel in all of these areas, but collaboration within a team allows designers to complement one another's strengths and weaknesses.

Personally, I view coding as a form of creative expression. It empowers me to be a creator, enabling me to construct exciting and enjoyable experiences. Proficiency in coding grants me the freedom to bring my ideas to life. As @rsms aptly puts it, "Software is the medium through which I express myself."

In a professional context, coding can be an added asset, facilitating effective communication with developers and fostering a systems-oriented mindset. Nevertheless, I've come to recognize that my true value as a designer lies in my design skills. I might not be the most proficient programmer, nor do I have a strong desire to constantly keep up with the latest coding design trends. My passion lies in experimentation and creation, and I fear that coding would lose its appeal if it became my sole focus.

In conclusion, as designers, our primary focus should be on pursuing what excites and fulfills us, without imposing dogmatic expectations on the skill sets of our fellow designers. Whether one chooses to learn coding or not, the key lies in discovering and embracing what brings them happiness and satisfaction.