Special guide for UI/UX designers choosing a programming language [2021]

When looking at the big bad world of the programming language - where does it all begin for the UI/UX Designer?
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    Choosing a programming language

    The most important piece of advice you should take out of this article – if you’re brand new to UI/UX design or even if you are a pro UX’er – is that you need to constantly keep learning and developing your skill sets such as picking a programming language

    One of the best ways the modern-day (or want to be) UX’er can quickly upgrade their skill bag is top it up with some extra programming swagger.  

    You are probably familiar with some layers (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD, etc.) – keeping everything in your design assets neat, tidy and organized. This is actually a great place to start to dip your toe.  

    1. HTML

    As a UI/UX designer at some point along the road it’s likely you will want to put together your professional portfolio.

    A step past putting together a standout CV – Usually put together in something like Adobe Indesign and saved as a PDF – the next step here is to build your own website.

    This is usually the UI/UX designer’s first foray into the big bad world of HTML.

    • Learning about responsive grid frameworks eg. Bootstrap.
    • Learning about building and hosting a website.
    • Finding out about content management systems eg. WordPress and Django
    • Saving yourself a bunch of time with UI/UX design templates (shameless plug)

    Learning a programming language like HTML would now be considered almost a standard skill set amongst the UI/UX community.

    It would almost be expected to know at least the basic markup tags such as:

    • headings (h1, h2, h3 etc)
    • paragraph
    • bold
    • underline
    • etc
    • font-awesome inclusions.

    2. CSS

    Once you have HTML down pat and you’ve got the basics of your portfolio covered it’s time to take things up a notch and progress into the programming language world of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

    It’s important to remember here – Pick your specialty! If you’re a UI/UX designer then try and play in your sandbox. Remember there are entire careers based on being a ‘Front-End Developer’… so try not to fall into the trap of getting too caught up in the weeds with this one.

    It can be an easy trap to spend (chew) a lot of time dabbling into a little bit of CSS and suddenly you find yourself knees deep building an entire React Front-End – Probably not time best spent.

    Our Tip: Unless you want to move into Front End Dev then learn enough to be really dangerous here and get your projects looking brilliant then keep moving forward. 

    • The basics will get you a really long way.
    • It’s constantly evolving and changing.
    • Test and learn as you go.

    3. What Programming Language? Pick One… We Like Python

    Choosing a programming language is like picking out a car from the dealer. Some people like Ford… some people like Toyota – at the end of the day it really comes down to personal preference.

    When you are beginning your programming language adventure our suggestion is to try out a few different languages to see which one you find easiest to work with and which one you feel works with you.

    From our coding journeys, we have found using Python works for the things we like doing for several reasons.

    • It is generally simple in setup and construct.
    • Works easily on a Mac – which is what we typically use as UI/UX designers.
    • Is easy to read and follow along with someone else’s code.
    • Is well supported by the biggest companies. eg. Amazon, Apple, PayPal etc.
    • There is heaps of tutorials, books, courses and demos online.
    • Is a great programming language to do a bunch of automation tasks to make our life easier.

    4. Data-Driven Language

    UI/UX in our opinion has more and more research, data and analysis components than ever before.

    If you’re not working as part of a large team with dedicated research facilities then being able to process and crunch the data in more productive ways eg. using some of your newfound pythonic data analysis skills will only go to make you a more effective UI/UX’er.

    5. UI/UX Skills

    Our takeaway is that learning any programming language can only enhance your thinking and ability as a UX’er and no matter what stage of your UI/UX career you are at it is probably a good time to brush up on some of those base skill sets.

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